The statement made this week by the Moderator of the Church of Scotland, Rt Rev John Chalmers reflects the sentiments of many, and expresses eloquently our Christian response to the devastating news of the hundreds of deaths of refugees seeking to cross from Africa into Europe. We are dismayed that the warnings made about the consequences of cutting back the humanitarian search and rescue mission were unheeded.
He speaks for many in saying: “I welcome the European Council’s latest agreement on a 10 point plan to tackle this crisis. I now urge the Government to fully participate in agreeing and resourcing action arising from these proposals when the European Council holds an extraordinary session to address the situation in the Mediterranean on Thursday. Many of these actions are to attempt to combat this evil trade in human beings, but in particular I want to see our Government support the EU’s resettlement initiative, and offer sanctuary to refugees in need of protection.”
We recognise the God-given worth and dignity of every individual who has perished, and in expression of our common humanity, deplore any system, structure or individual that places human life and wellbeing in jeopardy.
We pray for wisdom and courage for those leaders who are gathering to address this situation; as those who represent us, that they might act with justice and determination.
We pray that all might recognise and address the underlying evils of which these events are a symptom:
- Criminal gangs, ready to exploit with indifference the desperation of fellow human beings;
- Instability and fear that rages in countries like Syria and Eritrea
- The enduring injustice of European prosperity being built on the exploitation of Africa.
- The need for effective and constructive intervention to build peace and wellbeing in the world’s most desperate places.
God of every tribe and nation;
Source of our humanity, in whose likeness each of us is made,
We lament any needless loss of human life;
But especially our hearts cry out
For those who have perished
In their quest for hope and sanctuary
Within the continent of Europe.
We confess the failings of those economic and political structures,
From which we often benefit,
Yet leave traffickers and exploitation unchecked;
Rescue Services inadequate;
And fellow human beings so desperate,
That they will risk life itself
In search of what has been denied them
By the self-interest and indifference of others.
Make us restless in our pursuit of justice, hope and security
For everyone with whom we share your world. AMEN