Scottish Episcopal Church leader condemns Rwanda deportations during meeting in Edinburgh

The UK Government’s decision to send asylum seekers to Rwanda was condemned by the Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church on the opening day of the church’s General Synod.
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At the church’s annual three-day meeting in Edinburgh, the Most Rev Mark Strange, Bishop of Moray, Ross & Caithness, highlighted the imminent fate of migrants in his opening address. Deportations are expected to begin next week.

The Primus reminded members that the opening day of Synod was also the feast day of St Columba, “who found himself caught up in aggression, war and difficulties, and who got in a boat with a few friends, and sailed across eventually to Iona”.

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He continued: “We are now informed that the deportation of some of those who risked their lives to reach the UK by small boats will begin on June 14. Those people will be sent to Rwanda under an agreement between the UK government and the government of Rwanda. There are many reasons why this is not an acceptable policy, and I will again write to the Home Secretary on this issue.

“Those being deported came to the UK not out of choice but in an act of desperation, to flee persecution at a time when their lives were in danger. Their need is obvious and their fears are real, and yet our response is not to help them but to send them away, send them far way, into further uncertainty.

“There must be another way; there has to be another way. For we are called to love one another as God loved us. Whatever else we do, we must make it known that we cannot simply pass our issues on to other places. We must be welcoming. We must find ways of truly being community.”

The situation in Ukraine is also on the Synod’s agenda, along with progress towards net zero carbon emissions by 2030.

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After two years of meeting online, the Synod this year is taking place, mostly in-person, at St Paul’s & St George’s Episcopal Church in York Place, but with a small number joining online.

On the opening day, many Synod members dressed in black to show support for the “Thursdays In Black” campaign, a global movement urging an end to violence against women.