ZAGREB, July 17, 2018 – The chairman of the “Justice and Peace” (Iustitia et Pax) commission of the Croatian Catholic Bishops’ Conference, the Archbishop of Đakovo and Osijek, Đuro Franić, has said that despite endeavours by responsible office-holders in the European Union, the EU has not yet found the answer to the arrival of migrants fleeing wars, poverty and other plights affecting some Asian and African countries.
Hranić held a news conference in Zagreb on Tuesday to present the commission’s statement on challenges stemming from the migrant crisis in Europe which he described as a large-scale population movement from the Middle East, including persecuted Christians from the oil-rich areas in sub-Saharan Africa and economic migrants from various parts of the world flooding into Europe.
The archbishop warns that Europe, preoccupied with the protection of its own security and its own economic interests, often fails to recognise human beings in those wretched people. “We forget that among them there are many Christians from the Middle East and other areas, and they are the most persecuted religious communities in the world today,” he said mentioning, for instance, the Aramaic community.
Due to the distribution of powers inside the European Union, countries such as Germany were able to invite, on their own, potential immigrants, thus causing chaos along transit routes in southeast Europe, and all that happened because the Europeans in general, particularly the Croats, “are less and less open to life”, reads the document, alluding to low or negative birth rates in European countries.
Europe is ageing at a fast pace and demographic projections indicate that the continent will soon need more people to provide for economic growth and viability of the health and pension systems, the commission says.
Facing those difficulties, the EU must find a way to define joint immigration policy criteria and protect its external borders, and the international community is supposed to work on the return of people who were forced to leave their countries of origin due to wars, according to the statement.
The Justice and Peace commission believes that the question of how people who have left their homes due to natural disasters should be treated is “an outstanding issue”. When it comes to migrants who have fled their home countries due to wars or poverty and economic plight, the Europeans should agree among themselves and accept refugees of this kind in accordance with the abilities and needs of each individual EU member-state, the commission says.
The commission also calls for the respect for civilisation and ethical principles, noting that all migrants are supposed and expected to honour the customs and values of the host countries, which will facilitate their integration. However, the Croatian Catholic bishops are against the assimilation of those migrants who, they say, should not be supposed to cease practicing their customs and religions or speak their native language in their private life.
The commission also raises its voice against illegal routes and illegal crossings into the European Union, warning that arrivals of people without any documents can undermine national sovereignty and public order and security of citizens. Also, it is not good to create separated areas or ghettos for migrants on the fringes of the EU, the bishops warn.
The commission says it has issued the statement in order to raise public awareness of the problems of refugees and persecuted people and give guidelines to possible solutions in line with Christian tenets.