As theological debates on sexuality and marriage become more and more central, many Christian denominations are being asked to clarify their views.
You can sink the boats on the African shores. And then what? A serious reflection on citizenship in the global world is needed.
As far as we can see, there are three dimensions to the Mediterranean migrants crisis that need to be taken together if we want to address the problem in a responsible Christian way.
1. The humanitarian issue. People are dying. Hundreds if not thousands of them are dying in the Mediterranean Sea. In a sense, we cannot say we don't know the risk and cannot do anything to stop the tragedy. Before all other consideration, our responsibility is to address the crisis. We may have different views on how to deal with the global phenomenon of migrations in the long term, but we cannot escape our responsibility here and now to avoid the death of many desperate people who are willing to risk their lives to run away from conflicts and wars and poverty.
2. The political/global issue. Global migration in order to escape wars and persecutions is not something that a single nation or few nations can address on their own. It involves millions of people, several regions in the world, a complex history behind, religious movements. The whole of the international European community should learn to address it. Europe is very committed to preserve its financial stability and monetary wealth, but it's still totally unprepared to have a global vision of its own role in the world. Europe's regulations on how to address migrants are totally outdated and wrong in approach. You can sink the boats on the African shores and then what? A serious reflection on citizenship in the global world is needed.
3. The spiritual issue. Many migrants escape from religious persecutions. Islamic fundamentalism is part of the problem and wants to oppress minorities. Materialist ideology is inadequate to come to terms with the issue. There is a spiritual dimension that cannot be overlooked. Moreover, many Muslims seek to come to Europe and this opens up challenges and opportunities for gospel witness. Is this a threat or is it an opportunity? Perhaps both, but you need a Christian spiritual mindset to begin to think it through.
I think that Evangelicals should contribute on all three levels. There are those whose interest is stirred by humanitarian reasons but they don't want to approach the issue globally. Others see only opportunities to evangelise but their approach is spiritualistic and inadequate. We need an integrated, holistic, evangelical reflection and action.
Leonardo de Chirico is a pastor in Rome (Italy) and is member of the board of the Italian Evangelical Alliance (AEI).
You can read an interview with Leonardo de Chirico on how Italian evangelicals help migrants who arrive to their coasts.