Three European Catholic cardinals have written a letter to the Episcopal Conferences of the European Union calling for refugees and asylum seekers in Greece, in particular on the island of Lesbos, to be relocated to other EU countries.
Three leading European cardinals have called on all European Bishops' Conferences to help relocate refugees stuck in Lesbos and other reception camps in Greece, Vatican News reported on February 20.
The cardinals are Jean-Claude Hollerich, president of the Commission of the Bishops' Conferences of the European Community (COMECE), Michael Czerny, undersecretary of the Migrants and Refugees Section of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, and Konrad Krajewski, the almoner of the Pope.
Repeatedly quoting Pope Francis in the letter, the three cardinals urged the Bishops' Conferences to support efforts to transfer asylum seekers and refugees from Greece, in particular Lesbos, to member states of the European Union.
'Projects for humanitarian
The letter begins by recalling that Pope Francis in September 2015 urged ''parishes, religious communities, monasteries and shrines throughout Europe'' to ''express the Gospel in a concrete way and host a refugee family,'' Vatican News reported.
At that time, the pontiff also called for the support of all the European bishops for his appeal, recalling that ''Mercy is the second name of Love'. A few months later, Pope Francis visited Lesbos.
The cardinals' letter highlighted the pontiff's concern for the more than 20,000 adults and over 1,100 unaccompanied minors living in precarious and overcrowded structures "in Europe but outside of the European society," as the Pope put it then.
The cardinals also suggested that the Bishops' Conferences should "agree on a project for a humanitarian corridor from Lesbos and other first reception camps in Greece" in collaboration with their individual governments.
Several missions on the Aegean islands carried out by Cardinals Krajewski and Hollerich stemmed from the pontiff's concern, the letter said further. A positive outcome of recent initiatives to relocate refugees were also highlighted in the letter.
"Recently begun experiences in some countries have shown that the chances of a positive reception are higher than hoped for; in fact, many minors have been welcomed into families, while adults and families have been well received by the religious communities, parishes and families who have made themselves available for this service," the letter read.
'It is necessary to rescue and save'
The letter ended by quoting the Pope's words during a meeting last December at the Vatican with refugees who had arrived from Lesbos thanks to humanitarian corridors.
"'How can we fail to hear the desperate cry of so many brothers and sisters? How can we "go further," like the priest and the Levite of the parable of the Good Samaritan, making ourselves responsible for their death? Our sloth is a sin!", the Pope said.
"We must help and save, because we are all responsible for the life of our neighbor, and the Lord will ask us to account for this at the moment of judgment," Francis concluded.