Dalai Lama worries about refugees in Europe as religions struggle to respond to crisis

Posted June 5

Religious communities around the world can't agree on how best to respond to the refugee crisis, as they balance concerns about safety and resources with a spiritual call to serve people in need.

The Dalai Lama surprised observers Tuesday when he told members of the German press that there are now too many refugees in Europe. The Buddhist leader argued that countries should be working to rebuild these people's homelands, rather than offering them a new life.

"Europe, and for example, Germany, cannot become an Arab country. Germany is Germany. There are so many (refugees) that it becomes difficult," the Dalai Lama said, according to Quartz.

Other faith leaders have adopted a much different approach to the migrant crisis, urging their followers to do more to help.

"Someone who lets people drown in the Mediterranean also drowns God — every day, thousands of times," said Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki, archbishop of Cologne, Germany, last week, according to The Washington Post.

Pope Francis visited the Greek island of Lesbos, a common landing site for refugees who escape by sea, in April, praying for those who risk their lives to bring their families to safety, The Guardian reported at the time.

"Before they are numbers, refugees are first and foremost human beings," the pope said. He brought 12 refugees, including six children, with him back to Italy, where they're welcome to put down roots.

In short, people of faith, like politicians, can't agree on how to respond to the millions of people seeking refuge. There seems to be no more consensus today than there was in February, when the Deseret News reported on religious reactions to the refugee crisis.

In the U.S., some conservative Christian groups have broken with the party line and urged GOP lawmakers to increase aid to refugees, Politico reported in November. Faith-based humanitarian organizations like World Relief are leading the charge to provide resources to migrants in need.

However, some high-profile evangelical leaders have criticized President Obama's plan to welcome 10,000 Syrian refugees to the U.S.

"If we continue to allow Muslim immigration, we'll see much more of what happened in Paris — it's on our doorstep," wrote the Rev. Franklin Graham, son of famed preacher Billy Graham, on his Facebook page, according to the Deseret News.

Email: Twitter: @kelsey_dallas


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