World Orthodox

Joint Declaration by Pope Francis, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, and Archbishop Ieronymos II of Athens and All Greece (16/04/2016)

We, Pope Francis, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens and All Greece, have met on the Greek island of Lesvos to demonstrate our profound concern for the tragic situation of the numerous refugees, migrants and asylum seekers who have come to Europe fleeing from situations of conflict and, in many cases, daily threats to their survival. World opinion cannot ignore the colossal humanitarian crisis created by the spread of violence and armed conflict, the persecution and displacement of religious and ethnic minorities, and the uprooting of families from their homes, in violation of their human dignity and their fundamental human rights and freedoms.

The tragedy of forced migration and displacement affects millions, and is fundamentally a crisis of humanity, calling for a response of solidarity, compassion, generosity and an immediate practical commitment of resources.  From Lesvos, we appeal to the international community to respond with courage in facing this massive humanitarian crisis and its underlying causes, through diplomatic, political and charitable initiatives, and through cooperative efforts, both in the Middle East and in Europe.

As leaders of our respective Churches, we are one in our desire for peace and in our readiness to promote the resolution of conflicts through dialogue and reconciliation.  While acknowledging the efforts already being made to provide help and care to refugees, migrants and asylum seekers, we call upon all political leaders to employ every means to ensure that individuals and communities, including Christians, remain in their homelands and enjoy the fundamental right to live in peace and security. A broader international consensus and an assistance programme are urgently needed to uphold the rule of law, to defend fundamental human rights in this unsustainable situation, to protect minorities, to combat human trafficking and smuggling, to eliminate unsafe routes, such as those through the Aegean and the entire Mediterranean, and to develop safe resettlement procedures. In this way we will be able to assist those countries directly engaged in meeting the needs of so many of our suffering brothers and sisters.  In particular, we express our solidarity with the people of Greece, who despite their own economic difficulties, have responded with generosity to this crisis.

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