The Summer General Meeting of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference concluded in Maynooth last week. During the meeting, bishops discussed the response of the Church in Ireland to the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine.

Following the special Church collection over 26 and 27 March to help the humanitarian crisis arising from the Russian invasion and war in Ukraine, over €4.3m has been received from parish collections throughout the country.  These funds are being channelled to assist those who are suffering devastation to their lives and livelihoods.

Bishops said, “our parishes have responded with enormous generosity and compassion and we are most grateful for that.  It is also heartening that some parish communities have established direct links with Ukrainian parishes and local charitable projects to support refugees and those remaining in Ukraine.  The proceeds are being sent to the international Catholic Church agency, Caritas Internationalis, which is currently operating on the ground in Ukraine and its surrounding areas.”

Bishops discussed the ongoing war in Ukraine and its tragic, traumatic and dehumanising impacts for her people.  In praying for all those affected by war, bishops joined with Pope Francis, and with bishops from across Europe, in calling for an end to the human misery being inflicted on Ukrainian people.

Bishops analysed the response in Ireland to the Ukrainian refugee crisis, and expressed welcome to the more than 35,000 Ukrainian people – mostly women and children – who have come to Ireland since 24 February last.  Bishops also expressed their thanks and recognition to the many parishes, religious and Church groups, as well as various community organisations, who have provided and helped provide accommodation for refugees.  Bishops encouraged parishes and faith communities to continue to reach out to those living in their local area to ensure adequate provision for their pastoral and spiritual needs.

While welcoming the initial response of the European Union and the Government of Ireland in welcoming refugees, bishops expressed their concern about reports on the conditions that some Ukrainian and other refugees are experiencing in Ireland.

Bishops said, “It is incumbent on civil authorities – North and South – to assist those who have experienced hardship and displacement, and this should include cross-border cooperation on the island of Ireland.  As a Church, we are working to improve the quality of life, and to uphold the dignity, of those who have come to our country for refuge.”

ENDS