For World Refugee Day, 20th June, Bishop Paul McAleenan has called on society ‘to reflect on how we can better help refugees, both through welcoming them into our society and communities, and through supporting refugees globally…a society is judged by how it treats the most vulnerable within it, and in England and Wales we must do more.’
He encouraged catholics to ‘welcome refugees into our communities, reaching out to the most vulnerable groups through the community sponsorship scheme for Syrian refugees. We should also keep refugees in our prayers, and look on practical ways to help.’
‘Our society must be mindful of the challenges and abuses refugees face, and look to protect them,’ he said.
‘Refugees and asylum seekers must be integrated and their cause promoted so they can flourish and contribute to our society. We must recognise the value and gifts that they bring; instead many currently face barriers to work, effectively barring them from our society.
‘Refugees abroad, and the organisations that care for them, also need support, and I commend the work done to support those groups.’
In a statement issued in May, Bishop Paul had called on Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to suspend the charges while they are reviewed and cancel any planned extension of the charging regime to emergency or GP care for non-UK citizens receiving healthcare. Citing concerns over endangering patients and wasting healthcare staff time, he explained. ‘These changes are already beginning to inflict unintended harm upon patients, the medical profession and our society as a whole.’