His Grace Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom, spoke of the challenges and opportunities of the current refugee crisis at a World Council of Churches Consultation in Munich, Germany, jointly hosted by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Bavaria (ELKB), the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD) and the World Council of Churches (WCC).
During his address, Bishop Angaelos said:
“We are not only witnessing the immense displacement of vulnerable people fleeing war-torn countries, but a dehumanisation and a loss of dignity of those people…they do not leave their countries unless they feel that they no longer have a viable presence there. We need to look with a new heart, to encourage our states and governments, and all who make decisions, to look at these people as more than mere statistics.”
Speaking of ways to address the crisis, he went on to say:
“This epidemic that we are seeing needs to be addressed collaboratively, across the Church and across religions, nation states, organisations, and international bodies. This crisis is larger than any one person, state, religion, or organisation, and so we need to encourage one another to move on in active collaboration. Without a streamlining of our efforts, we will see a wastage of both human and material resources.”
In conclusion, Bishop Angaelos gave a message of hope:
“As Christians we believe that there is always hope; this is a great opportunity for us all to be light in an abject darkness, and a light that can and will make a difference.”
In speaking about the consultation shortly after his address, Bishop Angaelos said:
“This is a welcomed initiative of WCC and its member Churches to bring Church leaders together from across Europe and discuss the implications both, in the Middle East and in Europe, of what we see unfolding at the moment.
It is widely agreed here that there is a major and complex situation in the Middle East, and that Christians and others are facing immense pressures, living in great risk because of the conflict that is occurring around them.
As I have been saying all along, the complexity of the unfolding situation in the Middle East necessitates a coordinated and collaborative response encompassing nation states, as well as religious and non-governmental organisations and bodies. While this is a great challenge, it is not one that cannot be met if we work together to safeguard those most vulnerable.”
Taking part in the consultation were 35 bishops and Church leaders from 20 countries, and representatives from a variety of Churches across Europe.
The programme included presentations and discussions surrounding values and perspectives in the public sphere, along with discussions of possible future strategies and steps for action to assist those affected by the crisis.