The Mediterranean has become a mass grave for migrants. Thousands have died in their attempt to reach Europe. ‘Our’ Europe. In a recent visit to the historic sites of Auschwitz and Birkenau, the presidents of the European Forum of National Laity Committees (ELF) were reminded that we cannot stand idly by while this tragedy unfolds. In 2013, Pope Francis, while visiting Lampedusa, asked ‘Who is responsible for these people?’. A clear and resounding answer to this question is long past due.

The European Forum of National Laity Committees (ELF) is a platform where Christian people meet and share information, experiences and ideas. The common responsibility is to participate in the Christian mission as lay people in society and in the Church. The Forum acts  to promote the mutual exchange of experiences and information between its members on questions of European importance. During a recent meeting in Cracow, Poland, the presidents of the different national committees visited Auschwitz and Birkenau. There, they were reminded that people should never again be victims of violence and ‘Fremdenhass’ or racism. Therefore the current critical situation of the boat refugees demands a clear statement. Because are we also not transgressing against our fellow human beings by doing nothing?

A very real situation

Millions of people today are escaping to Europe for different reasons. Many of them losing their lives during their ordeal. Ultimately, even those who survive have given up everything. Everything, but their humanity. All these refugees are fellow human beings, our brothers and sisters. So we have to ask ourselves, what does European solidarity even mean anymore? Have we given up our own humanity? Especially for Christians this disgrace to our modern society is a challenge we can no longer ignore.

Parishes and organizations

Catholic people must be prepared to do something. Words alone are not enough, we must take action. We are aware and thankful that many people are already doing something to help. We must make a stand against violence and racism, also in our own communities. Commitment, individual and of all our organizations, is key to influence public opinion and to educate people. We stand with Pope Francis in saying “We must never tire of appealing for a more extensive commitment on the European and international level.” So please speak out in support of the refugees.


The European Union must take responsibility and do more to help migrants and look for opportunities, not exclusion. These are long-term goals. We must support the refugees here and in their homelands. There must be solidarity with the European countries where refugees are coming in. We call for a much broader involvement from European countries to reach these goals. Who is responsible? We are all responsible.

ELF - Cracow - July 2015