The French Bishops' Conference has told government officials that its dioceses are ready to help rehouse refugees and migrants forced to leave the "Jungle" camp at Calais that was closed down last week. The Tablet reports.
The delegation, including conference head Archbishop Georges Pontier and Paris Cardinal André Vingt-Trois, told Mr Valls the Church was canvassing dioceses across France to see how it could help house the migrants.
The conference’s National Pastoral Service for Migrants agreed that the camp was a squalid slum and the refugees had to be moved. The government plan was “controversial, but goes in the right direction,” it said.
It said housing the migrants was the State’s responsibility but bishops and priests should work with local officials and accompany the newcomers “so they are not only an administrative file.”
Not all Catholics, however, agreed with the Bishops' decision to support the camp closures.
Both Secours Catholique (Caritas France) and Emmaus, a Catholic association for the homeless, pleaded for a delay because they said the rehousing of refugees was not yet assured.
Vincent de Coninck, the Secours Catholique regional director, said the camp closure was “a security operation that has nothing humanitarian about it except its name. The exiles will be hunted and, what’s more, the result will be zero.”
But a local court turned down a suit filed by a dozen NGOs, including Secours Catholique, calling for a delay.
The reaction at parish and diocese level has been mixed.
Several Bishops have called for solidarity with the migrants, echoing the call of Pope Francis, but some opposition has arisen at the grassroots level.