CHURCHES COLUMN: Pope’s words show we are all able to do something helpful

As the war in Ukraine intensifies, millions of its citizens have fled the country, mostly to neighbouring Poland, writes Jane Rebika of St Joseph's Church, Whitnash.

The British Government initially allowed refugees to join family members already settled in the UK, availing a few hundred this avenue of escape.

Now there is the host-a-refugee scheme which allows British citizens to open their doors and offer any Ukrainian refugees a safe haven.

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I’ve not heard of such a scheme before.

Society reacts differently to some refugees

To my mind it begs the question: “Why has such a scheme not been put forward for the other refugees that have arrived on European shores in recent years?

“Why the apathy and virtual indifference for one set of refugees over another?

“Why are some earlier refugees from Iraq or Syria not given the same opportunity?”

Here the focus is on society’s indifference.

Pope Francis was interviewed before lockdown for a book entitled Let Us Dream.

He observed: “… we can’t serve others unless we let their reality speak to us”.

He expounds on this, identifying three ‘blocks to reality’: narcissism; discouragement; and pessimism.

Reading on, I was shocked to realise that these blocks applied to me!

Narcissism: News is only good if it’s good to me personally; if it’s bad, it’s because I’m the chief victim.

Discouragement: A sadness in spiritual life… a worm that gnaws away at you from the inside. Eventually it closes you in on yourself.

Pessimism: A door you shut on the future and the new things it can hold.

Pope Francis surmises: “The [attributes mentioned above] are all… about preferring the illusions that mask reality rather than discovering all we might be able to achieve.”

I don’t want to be the ‘blocked’ person described above, ignoring the suffering and needs of others.

I don’t have a spare room to offer, but I can offer my services – when I can – to charities that help those in need.