Catholic World News

Polish bishops rap fearmongers on immigration

July 25, 2016

Just before the opening of World Youth Day in Krakow, the Catholic bishops of Poland have released a statement decrying efforts by the country's political leaders to incite hostility toward immigration.

The statement from the Polish bishops' conference was released through the Vatican press office, suggesting a concerted campaign by the Vatican and the Polish episcopal conference to address the issue of immigration before Pope Francis arrives in Krakow. 

In fact, the Polish bishops' conference observes, only 0.4% of Poland's current residents are immigrants, and most of these are from neighboring countries rather than from the Middle East. Poland "is not located on the road of the main migratory flows in Europe," the statement notes. 

Nevertheless "great fears exist" because of misunderstandings about Poland's situation, largely because of "the lack of public debate," the statement says. Although the statement from the Polish bishops' conference does not dwell on the question of Islam, the implicit message is that unlike other European countries, Poland has not, to date, seen a large number of Muslim immigrants.

The statement notes an increase in the number of asylum applicants from Syria and Turkey in recent months. "The phenomon of immigration in general... is new, different, and strage to the average Polish person," the bishops say. They suggest a public effort to educate the Polish people about religious and cultural diversity. 

The statement reminds readers that the Polish Catholic Church, responding positively to an appeal from Pope Francis, pledged last year to "do everything within her power to assist refugees in their dramatic situation." 

The bishops point out that the flood of immigrants has been fueled by "wars in the Middle East and in Africa," and suggests that the faithful should pray for the restoration of peace in those regions.

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  • Posted by: unum - Jul. 26, 2016 9:30 AM ET USA

    Events in the rest of Europe are "whipping up fears" in Poland and the rest of Europe. A call from the bishops and the Vatican for prayer and restraint would be appropriate, but criticism of political leaders trying to manage a dangerous situation is inappropriate!

  • Posted by: Lucius49 - Jul. 25, 2016 6:10 PM ET USA

    Given events in Europe/Scandanavia with refugees and the U.S. there should be fear. How about the latest axe-attack in Germany? The bishops should be worried about what Hungarian archbishop Gyula Màrfi, Archbishop of Veszprém cited as an Islamic invasion. The Holy See and the polish bishops need a reality check. It's not about immigration in the abstract!

  • Posted by: rjbennett1294 - Jul. 25, 2016 5:44 PM ET USA

    "(T)he implicit message is that unlike other European countries, Poland has not, to date, seen a large number of Muslim immigrants." And does Poland know what is happening in other countries - Germany, France, England - that HAVE seen a large number of Muslim immigrants? A related question: why hasn't Saudi Arabia to date taken a single immigrant from Syria or Iraq? Saudi Arabia is a country of vast wealth, with a small population. And yet Europe is expected to accept these immigrants? Why?

  • Posted by: wsw33410 - Jul. 25, 2016 2:38 PM ET USA

    I would be careful in claiming that above referenced statement truly represents Polish Bishops. As it is said: "The press release (...) was written by a spokesman for the Polish Bishops" ... and I'd not be surprised that he is quietly reprimanded by his superiors in the Conference. The bishops in Poland are collectively opposed to certain "new ideas" of the current Pope.