The Catholic Primate of All Ireland Archbishop Eamon Martin has said there is a pressing need for prompt and politically-led strategic action that weds together a cohesive plan to welcome, integrate and sustainably resource refugees arriving here.

The Archbishop of Armagh also urged parish pastoral councils to continue liaising with church and other agencies in order to co-ordinate the response to the growing global refugee crisis.

In a pastoral letter from Rome where he has been attending his Church's Synod on the Family, he also asked for prayers for refugees and humanitarian workers and for a just response to the emergency in many parts of the world.

Archbishop Martin said he had been greatly moved by accounts from synod participants from various parts of the world of families separated, grieving and oppressed because of war and persecution in their homelands.

He said an African bishop had told the gathering that massive numbers of refugees had poured into Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Zambia and Malawi.

Dr Martin said some of the poorest countries in the world, such as Malawi, have been inundated with people fleeing war and destruction and that Malawi alone has been dealing with over 400,000 refugees.

He said that, so far, Ireland as a whole has been asked to take in only a small fraction of that number.

He likened those displaced families to the blind beggar Bartimaeus in today's Gospel, sitting on the side of the road and crying to passers-by to take pity on him.

The Primate said the Catholic Church has been playing its part in responding to the crisis, instancing "great work" by a host of individuals, groups and parishes throughout his cross-border diocese.

He singled out for mention Trócaire and the Saint Vincent de Paul society, parish pastoral councils, schools and other agencies and thanked all concerned for their generosity and solidarity with what he called "the plight of these tragic people". 

Welcoming the many financial contributions to charities dedicated to relieving the refugees' sufferings, he appealed for continued donations through Trocaire.

The Primate - who leads the Irish Bishops' Conference, said the governments north and south of the border, must do more to protect the human rights of refugees.

"We are being confronted with a human tragedy that requires a generous political and church partnership to help meet the needs of these vulnerable people," he told the Catholics of his diocese.

He said Irish people have not always handled refugees with the respect that they deserve and that  lessons need to be learned from the mistakes made here in the past.