BY Ian Dunn | July 8 2016 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print

9-BISHOP-GILBERT

‘We want you to stay’

Bishop Gilbert of Aberdeen urges love and gratitude towards immigrants after EU vote

Bishop Gilbert of Aberdeen has urged his flock to show ‘love and gratitude’ to the immigrants next to them in the pews.

Responding to what he called a ‘dark and deplorable’ surge of xenophobia after the EU referendum, he wrote a pastoral letter that was read at every parish in his diocese saying “I would like to reassure all those in our congregations from elsewhere, and especially from the EU, that they are a welcome and cherished presence.”

 

Reassurances

The bishop also urged the British government to ‘offer those from abroad the practical reassurances they deserve’ regarding their right to stay in the UK.

Theresa May—the favourite to replace David Cameron as Prime Minister of the UK—has so far declined to guarantee EU citizens the right to stay in Britain after it leaves the EU.

Bishop Gilbert said his diocese had ‘welcomed so many fellow-believers from other countries, not least those of the EU’.

“We must reaffirm our love of them as our brothers and sisters in Christ and show our gratitude for their presence, their faith and a fervour that often puts us to shame,” he said. “We don’t want you to leave. We want to make our common pilgrimage of faith with you to the one God who is Father of all, over all, through all and within all.”

 

Uncertainty

The bishop said that ‘the recent referendum has thrown us into uncertainty.’

“Some of this, please God, will be of short duration, but other elements will be with us for longer,” he said. “We are not used to this. The whole world, indeed, seems particularly volatile and tormented at present.”

He added that in ‘times of transition, things usually hidden can surface.’

“They can be dark,” he said. “Our political leaders have already spoken out against recent expressions of xenophobia, directed at people from elsewhere living in our country. There has been a rash of them. They are deplorable. As people who believe that all men and women are created in the image and likeness of God we should be especially sensitive here.”

The bishop said that ‘beyond all politics, ‘leaving’ and ‘remaining’ are the two sides of life and history.’

“We live change and stability, stability and change,” he said. “One grace of a time of transition is that it compels us towards what is firm and lasting. We are stripped of the secondary and can rediscover the essential. One of those essentials  is to love the stranger in our midst. May we do so.”

 

—ian@sconews.co.uk

 

—This story ran in full in the July 8 edition print of the SCO, available in parishes.

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