Introduction

Racial Justice Sunday 2016 - Refugee Crisis in Europe

14/01/2016 3:54 pm

Refugees travel through Greece

Racial Justice Sunday this year focuses on the Refugee Crisis in Europe caused, in the main, by civil war and conflict in the Middle East North Africa (MENA) region.

The theme of the day this year comes from Matthew 25 : 40: "Whatsoever you did to the least of my brothers and sisters, you did for me." This follows that famous passage "For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you made me welcome, lacking clothes and you clothed me, sick and you visited me, in prison and you came to see me."

For many years, we celebrated Racial Justice Sunday on the Second Sunday of September - and indeed did so on 13 September 2015. However, from 2016, it has been decreed that we'll celebrate the day three Sundays before the First Sunday of Lent on 24 January. So this, in a sense, is the changeover year and the day comes a mere four months after the last.

In 2015, Europe faced an unprecedented wave of migration of refugees, asylum seekers and unaccompanied young people from the Middle East and North Africa region in the main, but also from afar - including Pakistan, Somalia, Nigeria, Congo, Uganda and the Balkans. This development challenges us as Christians to examine critically the call by the Church to welcome the stranger.

In their reflection on this theme, the Commission of Episcopal Conference of the European Union (COMECE) have called on Catholics to reach out to those who come to "us from afar, especially those with pressing needs". Cardinal Reinhard Marx, in a letter to his brothers bishops in Europe, also called for more commitment and courage:

"We must encourage public authorities, civil society and the faithful in our respective countries to strengthen their solidarity towards those in need, including migrants and refugees who are crossing or coming to our lands. For us, Christians, it is imperative to love our neighbour and welcome the stranger. The extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy in 2016 is an excellent occasion to remind ourselves that ‘welcoming others means welcoming God in person!" December 2015.

Resources

We are providing the following:

The hope is that this will help you to focus on our brothers and sisters in need that have come to us for clothing, sustenance and safe haven in desperate times.

Related Links

catholicnews.org.uk/rjs16
Our web section for Racial Justice Sunday 2016.

catholicnews.org.uk/refugee-crisis
How the Church in England and Wales is responding to the Refugee Crisis

catholicnews.org.uk/e-action
The government has promised to accommodate 20,000 refugees over the next five years. Follow this link to urge your MP to
contact the Home Secretary to encourage her to devote sufficient resources for domestic and international resettlement
mechanisms, so that as many people as possible can be accommodated within the first year and the potential of extending
the government’s offer of sanctuary to others can be considered.