Archbishop Tartaglia’s Letters and News Reports – Welcoming Refugees

Archbishop Tartaglia has signed the following statement Issued on behalf of the Catholic Church in Scotland, the Church of Scotland, the Muslim Council of Scotland, and the Scottish Council of Jewish Communities.


Our faiths instruct us not to fear the stranger, but to love our neighbour. We view the desperate situation facing refugees currently seeking sanctuary in Europe with growing alarm. We are compelled to speak out on this issue.

Our faiths in their different ways are rooted in the refugee experience, in what it means to be forced to leave a place where one’s very existence is threatened in search of somewhere safer. Our scriptures teach the importance of love and compassion for all who are destitute. We are concerned by the dehumanising language used to describe people who are so desperate that they risk their lives, and we share the belief that all people have an inherent dignity and right to life.


Archbishop Tartaglia’s article for the Herald newspaper – 7 September 2015

Taken from the Archdiocesan Website


We welcome the UK and Scottish governments’ willingness to offer a safe haven to these desperate people. We urge them to back this with practical action to help as many refugees as possible, and we call on our communities to support this and make them welcome.

Every so often a picture changes history. An image captured through a camera lens speaks more eloquently to the hearts of people than a thousand sermons or political speeches.

I remember the impact of the famous photo in the 1960s when I was a student, of the young Vietnamese girl running for her life, burnt with napalm. For many people it summed up the futility and horror of the Vietnam War and probably hastened its end.

A similar landmark moment occurred, I think, last Wednesday evening when the images of Aylan Kurdi, the tiny child whose drowned body summed up the horror of the human crisis facing Europe, flashed across computer and TV screens.

Who, on seeing that tiny body, inert as the waves washed over his face, every detail of his humanity on show, down to the soles of his trainers, doubtless recently bought by loving parents, could help but weep?

I watched with amazement in the course of the week as various tabloids and politicians redefined what they meant by a “crisis of immigration”. At the start of last week, that “crisis” was the fact that 300,000 more people had entered the UK than left it last year. (The fact that most were EU citizens coming to work here was an inconvenient detail which was largely omitted from the hysteria.) Just as the “crisis” headlines hit the press, the real crisis manifested itself in a refrigerated truck in an Austrian lay-by which had turned into a death chamber for 70 or more poor men, women and children. And what of the 200 or so who died trying to make the crossing from Libya to Italy? (taking the total of Mediterranean drownings to 2500 this year). That detail wasn’t regarded as a crisis, perhaps because it happened far from the smartphone screens of western society. It took the poignant, tragic, senseless horror of little Aylan lying lifeless on that beach to bring our society to its senses.

In my view the refugee crisis is a test, not of political shrewdness, but of common humanity. What is happening in the Mediterranean, Calais and other access points is a heartless affront to human dignity.

The UK should be generous in providing a safe haven for refugees and asylum-seekers; Britain’s policy in the Mediterranean of rescue and deposit elsewhere is mean-spirited and unhelpful to the nations who are bearing the brunt of the migrations, especially Italy and Greece.

Germany and Sweden lead the way in opening their borders – and more importantly their hearts – to those in need. The people of tiny Iceland put us to shame in their generosity, with more than 11,000 families offering to open their own homes to fleeing refugees.

Yesterday, the Prime Minister made a welcome but vague promise to allow in more desperate people fleeing chaos, but appeared to offer no hope to those who have already reached Europe. Instead extra effort goes in to procuring newer, sharper, higher, barbed wire fences to keep out the desperate refugees at Calais.

Pope Francis in recent remarks on the subject, was typically blunt. He called the rejection of human beings fleeing violence “an act of war”.

He said the situation where desperate refugees were bounced from country to country seeking shelter was “an unresolved conflict… and this is war, this is violence, it’s called murder”.

The victims of that war, that murder, are sometimes invisible to us. Their invisibility allows us to feign ignorance of their human plight.

After seeing that iconic image of little Aylan, that defence of ignorance is gone. It is time to open our hearts and open our borders



Article from STV news – Catholic Church will ‘support and assist’ refugees to Scotland    –    Link to Webpage


The president of Scotland’s Catholic Bishops’ Conference has written to Nicola Sturgeon saying the Catholic Church will assist the Scottish Government in welcoming refugees.


Archbishop of Glasgow Philip Tartaglia has offered his support to the First Minister who has made £1m of funding available for those affected by the humanitarian crisis in southern Europe.

Ms Sturgeon also encouraged the Prime Minister to do more to help refugees coming to Britain and David Cameron has since said the UK would be able to welcome 20,000 Syrian refugees over the next five years.

Archbishop Tartaglia said he was was “inspired by Pope Francis” and the church will “support and assist the new arrivals to our country”.

In the letter, sent on behalf of all of Scotland’s eight Catholic Dioceses, he wrote: “Earlier this month Pope Francis called upon every Catholic parish community in Europe to offer support to refugee families currently fleeing to our continent from the Middle East.

“He said ‘In front of the tragedy of the tens of thousands of refugees escaping death by war or hunger on the path towards the hope of life the Gospel calls us, asks us to be ‘neighbours’ of the smallest and most abandoned.’

“In the days since, the UK Government has unveiled its plan to accept up to 20,000 refugees from Syria over the next five years and I note that your government is fully committed to cooperating with the UK authorities In whatever action needs to be taken to help alleviate this humanitarian crisis.

“In support of your response and inspired by Pope Francis, I write to offer the assistance of the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland in any plans that may emerge in the months to come to support and assist the new arrivals to our country.

“Many of our parishioners hail from families with a history of fleeing conflict and poverty in the 19th and 20th centuries to find a new home in Scotland.

“In the subsequent decades we have established an effective network of parishes that exist to promote the Christian faith and thus contribute to the common good

“I have been asked by the Bishops to place our parish resources at the service of those 21st century newcomers who find themselves in greatest need. Caritas Christi urget nos; The love of Christ compels us (2 Cor 5:14).”



From the Glasgow Evening Times    –    Link to Webpage


ALL 450-plus of the country’s Catholic parishes are prepared to welcome and support refugees, the leaders of the church in Scotland have said.

In a letter to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, Archbishop Philip Tartaglia said the church is ready to “place our parish resources at the service of those 21st Century newcomers who find themselves in greatest need”.

It followed claims by his counterpart in Edinburgh, Archbishop Leo Cushley, that Europe was facing the greatest migration of people since the Second World War.

He added: “What is more, many Scots Catholics, myself included, hail from families that once fled oppression and poverty in all sorts of places in the 19th and 20th century, to find a new home in this country.

“So how could we not place ourselves at the service of those 21st century newcomers who are in the greatest need?”

As well as a placed within established community networks, the offer from the Catholic Church would bring with it the full support of its charitable and social care organisations, taking on some of the services the state would be expected to provide.

It comes as it emerges the Episcopalian Bishop of Glasgow and Galloway has written to David Cameron, calling on the UK government to respond “warmly and generously to the plight of people fleeing from desperate situations in their homelands”.

In his letter Archbishop Tartaglia said he supported Ms Sturgeon’s response and was “inspired by Pope Francis” to “offer the assistance of the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland in any plans that may emerge in the months to come to support and assist the new arrivals to our country”.