Migrant crisis a challenge to Christian unity, claims bishop

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Brussels, Nov 30 (IANS/AKI) The ongoing migrant crisis has caused discord within churches in Europe and raises questions about its identity and future, a Catholic bishop told a high-level EU summit on Tuesday.

“This crisis has undermined unity in Europe, and, admittedly, also within the churches in Europe,” said the auxiliary bishop of Malines-Bruxelles, Jean Kockerols, quoted by Vatican Radio.

A common solution to the refugee crisis “is a question that touches directly upon the values and the future of Europe”, Kockerols told European Commissioners and religious leaders attending the summit.

“It is our duty to recall that every refugee has the right to receive a fair and human treatment,” said Kockerols, who is vice-president of the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community (COMECE).

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Populism and intolerance, as well as the vital role of education in improving social cohesion were among the themes of the conference.

“With the rise of nationalism, xenophobia and extremism, we must ensure that our society remains welcoming – especially to those fleeing from war and in need of international protection – while preserving its core values and principles,” said Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos.

Pope Francis in September last year asked every parish in Europe to take in a refugee family.

The same month, EU ministers agreed to mandatory quotas relocating 120,000 refugees from Italy and Greece over a two year period. But several states have refused to take any and resettlement has progressed at a sluggish pace, exposing rifts within the bloc over migration.

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