Edinburgh Archbishop ‘would offer home to refugee’

Archbishop Leo Cushley. Picture: Jon Savage
Archbishop Leo Cushley. Picture: Jon Savage
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SCOTLAND’S two archbishops have said they want to help refugees fleeing for safety - with one saying he would be willing to offer a home to someone trying to escape persecution.

The Archbishop of Glasgow Philip Tartaglia has written to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon offering to help the Scottish Government accept refugees.

In a letter sent on behalf of Scotland’s eight Catholic dioceses, Archbishop Tartaglia pledged to “place our parish resources at the service of those 21st-century newcomers who find themselves in greatest need”.

Meanwhile, Leo Cushley, Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh and head of the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland, has said he would be “happy to give a home to somebody fleeing war or oppression”.

Earlier this week, Ms Sturgeon announced initial funding of £1 million was being allocated to co-ordinate Scotland’s response to the refugee crisis. She also said that Scotland would accept 1,000 refugees as a “starting point” and urged Prime Minister David Cameron to do more to help tackle the humanitarian crisis.

Mr Cameron has said the UK will accept 20,000 Syrian refugees by 2020 but said he had to ensure housing and schools were in place first of all.

Archbishop Tartaglia wrote: “Earlier this month, Pope Francis called upon every Catholic parish community in Europe to offer support to refugee families currently fleeing to our continent from the Middle East.

“In support of your response and inspired by Pope Francis, I write to offer the assistance of the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland in any plans that may emerge in the months to come to support and assist the new arrivals to our country.

“Many of our parishioners hail from families with a history of fleeing conflict and poverty in the 19th and 20th centuries to find a new home in Scotland.”

He added: “In the subsequent decades we have established an effective network of parishes that exist to promote the Christian faith and thus contribute to the common good.

“I have been asked by the bishops to place our parish resources at the service of those 21st-century newcomers who find themselves in greatest need.”

Speaking on BBC Good Morning Scotland, Archbishop Cushley, a close adviser to the previous and current Pope and who replaced disgraced Cardinal Keith O’Brien, said: “As a visible example of our willingness to help, I too would be happy to give a home to somebody fleeing war or oppression. Hopefully, though, we can find each family their own home.

“Scotland is a big country populated by big people with big hearts. Today, we ought to be able to welcome among us these people, real people, in real need, just as the Scots have always done in the past. Within the next few hours the First Minister will receive a letter from the bishops of Scotland.

“Contained within it will be our offer of complete co-operation in giving both welcome and support to any refugees who arrive in Scotland in the months to come. That’s every diocese. Every parish. All 452 of them. The length and breadth of this country.”

Earlier this week, the Rt Rev Dr Angus Morrison, Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, Archbishop Tartaglia, Dr Javed Gill, convener of the Muslim Council of Scotland, and Ephraim Borowski, director of the Scottish Council of Jewish Communities, issued a joint statement to the Scottish and UK governments.

“We are concerned by the dehumanising language used to describe people who are so desperate that they risk their lives, and we share the belief that all people have an inherent dignity and right to life,” they wrote.

“We welcome the UK and Scottish governments’ willingness to offer a safe haven to these people.”