Bulgarian church urges govt to stop migrants

2015-09-25 19:52
(Yasin Akgul, AFP)

(Yasin Akgul, AFP)

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Sofia - The Bulgarian Orthodox Church said on Friday the Balkan country's authorities should not let any more migrants cross its borders, encouraging government's determination to tackle an influx that has overwhelmed its neighbours.

"We consider that our government should in no way allow more refugees into our country," the church said in a statement, signed by Patriarch Neofit, the head of the Orthodox Church, and other members of the Holy Synod - the church's top executive body.

The Black Sea state, a member of the European Union but not of the border-free Schengen Area, has deployed more border police, installed cameras and motion sensors, and is extending a security fence to cover 160km of its border with Turkey. But more migrants keep arriving.

Tens of thousands of migrants, most of them fleeing war and hardship in Syria, are trying to reach Western Europe through Bulgaria's neighbours, non-EU members Macedonia and Serbia.

The church expressed its compassion and solidarity for those already in the country but said the problem should be solved by those "who created it".

"For those who are already here, it is right for us, as Orthodox Christians and as a society, to look after as much as we can and as much as our scant resources allow us, but not any further," the church said.

"The Bulgarian Orthodox people should not pay the price of our disappearance as a state."

Some 4.37 million Bulgarians, around 75% of those who wished to reveal their religion at the most recent national census in 2011, say they are Orthodox Christians - the mainstream religion also in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Greece, Romania and Serbia.

Only few, however, see churchgoing as important to their lives.

Trust in the Orthodox Church was shaken after a history commission showed a few years ago that many bishops collaborated with the former communist era secret police.

Read more on:    bulgaria  |  migrants

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