Bishops' Conference criticise decision not to support migrant rescue services in the Mediterranean

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference for England and Wales has issued a statement criticising the Government’s decision not to support migrant rescue services in the Mediterranean.

Baroness Anelay, who is a foreign office minister, said that supporting future search and rescue operations can encourage more people to attempt the dangerous crossing in order to enter Europe.

Bishop Patrick Lynch, chair of the Office for Migration Policy at the Catholic Bishops’ Conference Department of International Affairs issued the following statement: “Last summer at Lampedusa Pope Francis challenged us to take responsibility for our brothers and sisters. He warned us against losing our bearings in a culture of comfort and becoming insensitive to the cries of other people. Since the tragedies of last October, the Italian navy has led efforts to save many thousands of lives but now this is a time for all European governments to recognise that others’ suffering is our business.

“While efforts are being made to find lasting solutions to these challenges, we have a duty to heed with compassion the cries of our wounded brothers and sisters, and not to pass by on the other side. Britain is still Europe’s leading naval power, and to refuse to join in Mediterranean search and rescue operations would be a misguided abdication of responsibility to those thousands of men, women, and children who have been driven from their homes by persecution and war and forced to risk death at sea.”