The Papal Nuncio Archbishop Charles Brown has said that refugees should not be turned away from the United States.
Speaking after giving
the traditional address on behalf of the diplomatic corps at the 2017
New Year’s Greeting Ceremony at Áras an Uachtaráin on Tuesday, the
Nuncio said the executive order banning Syrian refugees and citizens of
seven Muslim countries was against Christian principals.
“My personal feelings are reflected precisely in what the American
bishops have said. We’re talking about people who are fleeing dangerous
situations at home and who are looking for comfort and security,” said
Archbishop Charles Brown, who comes from New York. “As Christians and
Americans we need to welcome them and not turn them away.”
He accepted President Trump had been elected by the people of America
and governments had to work with the President, but this did not mean
accepting all his decisions. Christians had a duty to accept refugees
with compassion and acceptance, he said, citing Pope Francis, who had
urged Catholics to accept refugees in their countries.
Earlier Archbishop Brown addressed President Higgins on behalf of the
diplomatic corps. In his talk he said that the centenary of the first
World War showed the “tragic, unintended consequences” when countries
pursued narrow national interests. Countries had a right to pursue their
own national interests but not at the expense of other nations, he
Archbishop Brown identified inequality as the root cause of global
discontent. “When inequality is not effectively addressed, established
government policies and even long-standing international agreements can
come under political pressure.”
Thanking the Nuncio, President Higgins said that the Archbishop
represented a papacy which “continued, throughout 2016, to challenge not
only growing inequalities and exclusions across our world but also the
quietism with which they are being accepted.
“Pope Francis put it so well when he warned us that we should be
worried if we come to a point when our consciences are anaesthetised,”
said President Higgins. We can never afford to forget that peace,
prosperity and equality are fundamentally based on justice, the
Turning to the UN, he said the “pinnacle of multilateralism” had
“enormous, life-saving achievements to its name”, but today it was not
“connected to the citizens who depend on its moral authority”.
He was critical of the way the UN’s moral purpose was frustrated at
times “by the blatant pursuit of interests” and the use of the veto.
“Far too often we have seen conflicts prolonged, lives lost and untold
misery visited on the innocent by the deployment of vetoes.”
Looking back on 2016, the year Ireland celebrated the centenary of
the Easter Rising, he said that for millions of “children, women and
men” who were on the move, global leadership had fallen short. “We have
seen a terrible loss of life, the displacement of entire communities,
including those pertaining to small and ancient cultures, such as the
Yazidis, and the destruction of civilian infrastructure in armed
conflict and natural disasters across the world.”
The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the UN (FAO) estimated that
over 17 million people were currently in crisis. Close to 12 million
people across Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya were in need of food
assistance, he said. Africa, the youthful continent, had to be allowed
to be the “continent of opportunity for all Africans,” said President
Higgins, and he called for the sharing of “science and technology in
innovative clusters to Africa and Asia as part of our global sharing”.
In Europe and the United States, deepening inequalities, racism and
xenophobia were gaining ground, he continued, “exploiting fears and
ignorance in ways that could destroy democracy itself”.
He said that “Inequalities and the exclusions they breed are now
being exploited by extremists, preaching claims to exclusive forms of
propriety and entitlement which ignore the fundamental truth that we are
all but migrants in time and space, who can best flourish in
sufficiency [and] creativity, and destroy ourselves and our planet
through mindless insatiability.”
There is an urgent need to look into the deep and quiet corners of
those lives deprived of a right to participate at all levels of society,
because these lives deserve, again in the words of Pope Francis, a
“dignified welcome”, said the President.
Turning to the European Union, President Higgins said the challenge
was to “recover a sense of hope and solidarity, between and within
Member States. For its architects and its peoples, the European project
was always about more than the creation of a single market and a single
currency. It was about sharing prosperity, security in life, achieving
freedom from poverty. Cohesion enjoyed as much prominence as
productivity. The energy of that vision has been lost. It must be
The loss of trust we currently see on the “European street” is
alarming, continued President Higgins. “The public presentation of
accommodations reached, and the formal text of policy instruments used
by the EU, have, at times, had the effect of separating European
institutions from the people they represent.
“The discourse has not reached the street; the words lack moral
political choice or intent. Often they constitute a mask for failure,
confusion, impotence or even evasion in the face of challenges. If
political parties lose support, the people can decide to remove them at
election time. If, however, it is institutions that lose popular
support, what results is a legitimation crisis that can threaten
But irrespective of its failings and imperfections, the European
Union remains a visionary and vital project, he said. Northern Ireland
was a “living example of the positive impact of European Union
membership in supporting and framing a peace process”.