Bishop Alan McGuckian SJ, Chair of the Bishops’ Council for Justice and Peace, has asked for prayers for Afghanistan and urged Ireland to do more for forcibly displaced persons.

While welcoming Ireland’s intervention at the UN Security Council on the crisis in Afghanistan, and appeal for safe and reliable humanitarian access for its people – together with the commitment of Government to accept 150 refugees under the Irish Refugee Protection Programme – Bishop Alan McGuckian has urged that the processes involved be accelerated and that the acceptance of additional refugees in Ireland should be considered as a policy priority.

Bishop McGuckian said, “Ireland, as one of the wealthier nations of the world, must do more for forcibly displaced people in terms of welcome and integration through State and community supports.  Yes, our hearts are deeply moved by the panicked scenes of people fleeing, but it should not take such scenes and circumstances to force governments to act.

“According to the UNHCR, at the end of 2020 there were 82.4m forcibly displaced people worldwide. Yet 85% of these are being looked after in the least wealthy nations, with only 15% being accommodated in the wealthier countries of the world, including Ireland.  What does this say to us about solidarity and fraternity in our world today?”

Bishop McGuckian continued, “This unfolding crisis presents Ireland with another opportunity to demonstrate our commitment to the protection of human rights, including access to education for all, and to welcome the stranger among us.  As Pope Francis reminds us, we are called respond to such challenges with four actions: welcome, protect, promote and integrate.

“I ask people to pray for the safe protection of the people of Afghanistan and other war-torn regions of the world.  In the interest of justice and peace, refugees should be welcomed and integrated in our communities.  The values of our Irish faith tradition teach us that outreach, encounter and authentic dialogue can bring the true peace that the world needs at this time.”

Bishop Alan McGuckian SJ is Bishop of Raphoe and Chair of the Council for Justice and Peace of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference

ENDS