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Finland: Lutheran Bishops of Turku and Porvoo on refugees, “see Jesus in the marginalised and persecuted”

“As Christians in this Holy Week, we meet Jesus who is present in a special way in the suffering of each of our brothers and sisters. To love, for a Christian, means to help people in a practical and selfless way, depending on the needs of each one”. The Lutheran Bishops Mgr. Kaarlo Kalliala of Turku and Mgr. Björn Vikström of Porvoo wrote this in an article published in the Turun Sanomat and relayed on the website of the Finnish Church. In a situation of social “stalemate”, asylum seekers whose applications have been rejected are particularly vulnerable. Following changes to the law in 2015, Finland stopped the granting of temporary residence permits on humanitarian grounds to asylum seekers from poor countries, the Bishops explain. “This has generated a lack of trust, despair, and intolerance”. There is a need to re-launch the social and political debate to “assess whether granting a temporary permit may turn out to be beneficial to all”. According to Kalliala and Vikström, this would build trust and be a sign that society “makes every effort to support and protect” people. “In similar situations, each one of us would like to feel supported and protected”. In the year in which we celebrate the 100th anniversary of Finnish independence, it is important that we “say to one another and to all in this country: you are not alone, we will not abandon you. To take on our Christian responsibility means to see Christ in all those who are marginalised and persecuted”.

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