Appeal of the Council of the Polish Bishops’ Conference
for Migration, Tourism, and Pilgrimages
after the Lesbos refugee camp fire

The news and pictures of the fire in the camp and the encampment, as well as the dramatic fate of several thousand refugees on the island of Lesbos, strike terror and are raising extremely dramatic appeals for solidarity with the victims. The voices of many people who have been asking that refugees be freed from the camp and welcomed in European countries have met neither understanding nor a response worthy of a human being and a disciple of Christ. The tragedy of the fire makes it impossible to remain passive.

Postponing the solution to the problem of the refugees’ stay on the Greek and Italian islands, in the overcrowded towns of southern Italy and Malta, exacerbates the growing humanitarian crisis and burdens the consciences not only of politicians in our country and Europe.

In this year’s Message for the Day of Migrants and Refugees, Pope Francis, recalling the image of the Holy Family fleeing to Egypt, helps us to see the presence of Jesus in the people forced to flee to save their lives. “In the faces of the hungry, the thirsty, the naked, the sick, strangers and prisoners, we are called to see the face of Christ who pleads with us to help” (cf. Mt 25:31–46).

We appeal to the authorities, state services, institutions, local governments, and non-governmental organizations to make it possible to respond conjointly to the calls for help of these people, especially orphans and minors from the Moria camp on the island of Lesbos, who have lost their parents and guardians on the way to Europe. The idea of humanitarian corridors, modeled on the successful undertakings of the Sant’Egidio community, is the most proven, legal, and secure way to save people whose lives are endangered. We cannot keep our eyes and ears closed to these cries for help. In addition to humanitarian aid “on the spot” of the tragedy of wars and expulsion, there must finally be an attitude open to receiving refugees who are begging to be rescued.

In agreement with the Presidium of the Polish Bishops’ Conference, we ask the Priests / Cardinals / Archbishops / Bishops to permit the parishes to place collection points in front of the diocesan churches, after each Holy Mass, on September 27th, the Sunday marked by the World Day of Migrants and Refugees. The funds collected for the victims should be sent to the account of Caritas Polska PL 77 1160 2202 0000 0000 3436 4384.

We ask all the faithful and people of goodwill for their support and a gesture of solidarity through material help and prayer.

Bishop Krzysztof Zadarko
Chairman of the Council of the Polish Bishops’ Conference
for Migration, Tourism, and Pilgrimages