– We have a holy, human and Christian obligation to help people in need – said Cardinal Kazimierz Nycz during the ecumenical service “To Die of Hope” in the parish of St. Barbara in Warsaw, celebrated as part of the Week of Prayer for Refugees.
The ecumenical service “To Die of Hope” was organized by the Community of Sant’Egidio. Liturgy as part of the seventh Week of Prayer for Refugees was held on Tuesday evening in the parish of St. Barbara. During the service, the names and short stories of refugees who lost their lives on their way to Europe were mentioned.
– We did not expect that, apart from the names of people who died on their way to Europe, we would also have to mention people who died on our Polish-Belarusian border – said Magdalena Wolnik, responsible for the Sant’Egidio Community in Warsaw. She said that “prayer is not only a remedy for the feelings of shame, pain and helplessness that accompany us, but it allows us to hear the cry of the poor, the rejected, persecuted, and helps us to lift our eyes, sometimes focused on ourselves, to see the world in the right perspective.” – We believe that prayer has the power to change hearts and change history, it opposes what is the greatest trap, i.e. indifference, and is also an expression of solidarity with those who still live with hope – Wolnik pointed out.
Cardinal Nycz warns against dividing people
The metropolitan of Warsaw emphasized that we will be grappling with the problem of migrants and refugees for a long time. – Due to various social, political and demographic conditions, this is a problem that will face us for the next several dozen years – he said. He emphasized that it is not enough to pray for refugees, those who suffer, because it is the minimum. – One must pray for human hearts to be warmed up so that the modern world, especially the world of richer people, to whom people emigrate, want to escape, have hearts that are sensitive to human needs and human circumstances – indicated Cardinal No.
Referring to the papal message for the 107th World Day of Refugees and Migrants, the hierarch warned against dividing people into “we”, “you” and “them”.
He pointed out that “God will judge us out of love, not declared love, but concrete love, because ‘I was hungry and you fed me’, ‘I was thirsty’, ‘I was a stranger’, ‘I was a stranger and you took me over'”. – Our Christianity was not only pietistic, limited to prayer and piety, but to translate into our lives and the concrete help we provide to other people – pointed out the Metropolitan of Warsaw.
The hierarchy also referred to what is currently happening on the Polish-Belarusian border. He said that “we are finding deceased refugees at the Polish border is an important warning.” – Earlier, we could explain that it is far from Poland, which was a twisted translation, but today we know that it concerns us. Any constructions we make to justify ourselves will not help – said Cardinal Nycz referring to the so-called the hierarchy of helping St. Thomas Aquinas. – It applies in a situation where the one who has and should help – is poor and needy himself – he explained.
“A distinction must be made between a migrant and a refugee”
At the same time, he pointed out that according to the social teaching of the Church, “in the extreme case, we have everything in common and everyone has the right to everything.” – We do not have such a situation today, so we come up with some constructions in order to justify – one or another our actions and to cleanse, calm our human and our Christian consciences – assessed the Metropolitan of Warsaw.
He pointed out that “a distinction must be made between a migrant and a refugee, that is, between the one who migrates because he is looking for a better, easier, richer life, and the one who is a refugee who flees from death, martyrdom, suffering and hunger”.
– Today’s societies – the rich have tools in their hands to distinguish and evaluate who is a migrant and who is a refugee in a human, humanitarian, and not Christian way, and not to look at everyone in one way – said Cardinal No.
As he added – it is all the more important today, when we face a huge demographic problem and we need people who will come to help us, not just to improve our lives.
– We have a sacred, human and Christian obligation to help people in need – declared Cardinal No. Among the available tools, he identified “humanitarian corridors” which, he judged, are effective “provided they meet the cooperation of those who rule the world.” – We must all face the problem and the challenge together – pointed out the metropolitan of Warsaw.
He admitted that each country has the right to defend its own borders. – We have the right and duty to defend the borders of Europe, but between defending the borders that no one is questioning and humanitarian aid and human, Christian aid, to which we are obliged by the words of the Gospel – there must be no contradiction – said Cardinal No.
– You need the maximum of good will and not to play on the problem of side, other, particular, social or political interests, because then we will not solve anything well, but we will always be at the starting point – summed up the hierarch.
Those who died on the way to Europe were mentioned
The ecumenical service was held at a cross brought from Lesbos in the Aegean Sea, made of the wood of migrant boats that wrecked off the coast of this Greek island. This year there were also two children’s vests that volunteers found on the island of Lesbos. During the prayer, those who died on their way to Europe, all those who were just on their journey and those who had already found refuge were remembered.
The “To Die of Hope” service will also be held in Poznań. Prayer for refugees on Sunday, October 3 at 15.30 in the Basilica of St. Joseph on St. Wojciech will be led by Bishop Szymon Stułkowski.
This year’s “Die of Hope” Refugee Prayer Week began on September 26, the 107th World Day of Migrants and Refugees, and will last until October 3. The initiative was held under the patronage of the Polish Episcopate Council for Migration, Tourism and Pilgrimages.
The community of Sant’Egidio has been preparing the service for refugees “To Die of Hope” since 2015, when the largest – so far – migration crisis broke out in Europe, and the waters of the Mediterranean Sea claimed 3,771 lives. Since 1990, nearly 41,000 people have died in the “journeys of hope” to Europe. refugees.
The community of Sant’Egidio was founded in 1968 in Rome on the initiative of Andrea Riccardi and a small group of high school students. Today it is present in 73 countries on all continents. Over 60,000 people belong to it. The community – wherever it is – lives the same spirit, based on prayer and reading the Word of God, friendship with the poor and work for peace. All over the world, she is committed to people who are poor in various ways: the homeless, lonely elderly, street children in Africa and Latin America, young people growing up in Peace Schools, prisoners, migrants and refugees. He runs, among others humanitarian corridors project, allowing for safe arrival in Italy and efficient integration of refugees. The community in Poland operates in Warsaw, Poznań and Chojna, and friendly groups inspired by its spirituality also in other cities.
Main photo source: Wojciech Olkuśnik / PAP