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Bishops call for asylum tolerance
The Bishop of Bradford, the Right Reverend David James, joined fellow Bishops across West Yorkshire today to urge people to show greater tolerance towards asylum seekers.
Faith leaders from across the region have called for greater Christian compassion for the plight of those who have fled war-torn areas to seek asylum in the UK.
They point out that many asylum seekers are among the most impoverished and destitute in our society, unable to work, and deprived of benefits and healthcare.
In particular the leaders, from various churches and groups including the Anglican, Catholic, Baptist and Methodist faiths, sought to remind people of the words of Christ, pointing out that he too was a refugee.
The Church leaders specifically identified prejudice towards asylum seekers, the failure of the legal process, the levels of destitution among asylum seekers and the trauma experienced by those who are deported to their homelands where they may face torture or death.
The joint statement, issued by the Church leaders, said: "We, church leaders in West Yorkshire, express our concern at the plight of asylum seekers in the UK.
"Continuing the long Christian tradition of hospitality, many churches across our region are extending a ministry of welcome to asylum seekers.
"We have become aware of the emotional, psychological, physical and spiritual needs of some of the most vulnerable people in our society.
"We wish to express our concern at what appears to us to be aspects of inhumanity in the official processes undergone by asylum seekers.
"We express our support for the hundreds of volunteers who generously give their time and resources to assist the stranger in need."
They also urged Christians to use the period of Lent, which began today, to be more understanding of those who seek asylum here and to grow in awareness of their special needs.