Portsmouth's Rejection of Asylum Seekers is 'Mean Spirited and Narrow Minded' says Cathedral

Portsmouth Cathedral has condemned a "crass" decision made by the City Council over asylum seekers.

In a strongly worded statement, the Cathedral said it was "embarrassed" by the City Council's vote to ask the government to remove Portsmouth from its list of designated hubs for asylum seekers.

The council met this week after two councillors said they wanted Portsmouth's status as a 'cluster area' to be removed. The reason given was a lack of funds and to ease pressure on public services.

The vote passed by 21 votes to 16, with one abstention. The majority of those in favour were Conservative councillors, and the majority against Liberal Democrat.

The Cathedral, however, has now slammed the motion, branding it "unworthy of the city".

The Council's "rejection of asylum seekers is mean spirited and narrow minded," a statement released yesterday said. "The Cathedral has generous hospitality as one of its core values, and we are proud that this trident has always applied to the whole City...Our Christian perspective demands that we see all people to be made in the image of God and of equal worth.

"Offering a home to a small number of people and recognising that asylum seekers have much to offer to the city is demanded by our common humanity."

Portsmouth has been a designated cluster area for 15 years. In asking to have this status removed, "the City Council has given the message that Portsmouth is not a welcoming City," the Cathedral said.

"This seems to fly in the face of the recent outpouring of support and care from ordinary people in Portsmouth to those in Calais, and other places...The Cathedral is and has been deeply involved in the life of the City, and is embarrassed and appalled by this crass decision. City and Cathedral should both show generous hospitality and a spirit of welcome to those in the deepest need."

According to Portsmouth News, lead councillor Donna Jones said that the Council merely wants to control the number of asylum seekers who come to live in the city.

"While people are twisting this as the Tories being anti-asylum seekers, this couldn't be further from the truth," she earlier said.

'We have compassion and care deeply about the atrocities that have gone on under the Assad regime in Syria. We are not saying we don't want any more asylum seekers in Portsmouth. We simply want to be in the same position as the rest of the towns and cities in the UK where we are in a position to offer help, as opposed to it being imposed on us."

This article was originally published in Christian Today. 

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