Cardinal Bozanić: Helping without selfishness and hypocrisy


Faced with the ever increasing phenomenon of migration and the refugee emergency “we are seeing an often confused Europe, which seems to lack a real culture of welcome as well as a real solidarity between the nations which make up Europe”, said Cardinal Josip Bozanic, Archbishop of Zagreb and President of the “Migration” section of the CCEE Caritas in Veritate Commission, speaking at the opening of the meeting of bishops and national directors in charge of the pastoral care of migrants in Europe taking place in Vilnius until Thursday 2 July.

He went on to say that “we cannot, however, at the same time cease from reminding our directors and our leaders that it falls to the political sphere to find solutions which facilitate a responsible welcome of people just as it falls to European politics to commit itself to helping without selfishness and hypocrisy to resolving the situations of war and poverty which are at our doors”. According to the Archbishop of Zagreb, the “spiritual challenge of welcoming people is linked to the responsibility of each person to proclaim his or her ‘Yes’ to those who arrive” and “only the person who does not lose sight of the infinite value of the human person before them is capable of gestures of welcome”.

For Cardinal Bozanic, “in a world where individualism tends to close each of us in our own bunker”, welcome is fitting because it is not “problems” being welcomed but “a human being who brings with him or herself an inalienable value and dignity”. So “the question of welcome can never be an issue discussed in an ideological manner, but first of all must be an existential attitude experienced both by the individual and the community”. For the Archbishop of Zagreb, former Vice-President of CCEE (2001-2011), welcome also means reciprocity, because it is not just offering something to someone in difficulty, but also “leaving room for the encounter. Welcome is therefore an encounter which then generates a new relationship”.

Hence the need, Cardinal Bozanic emphasised, for education in welcoming for Christian communities, too, so that welcome also means integration, which “expresses the desire to confer stability to those who arrive”.

But to integrate, the Cardinal said, “there is need for patience and love”. In this sense, concluded Cardinal Bozanic, “the challenge of welcome is not just aimed at those who arrive as foreigners in our countries, but is also addressed to all those who are called to welcome and who with the same patience and love must be understood and embraced in order to be encouraged to open themselves to those who arrive.”

Attending the meeting, promoted by the Council of European Episcopal Conferences (CCEE), are 40 delegates from 21 Bishops’ Conferences in Europe. (Press Office of the Archdiocese of Zagreb/CCEE Media Office)