“We ourselves need to see, and then to enable others to see, that migrants and refugees are brothers and sisters to be welcomed, respected and loved.” Pope Francis
JRS UK is working with Caritas Social Action Network and CAFOD to send messages of hope to refugees as part of Pope Francis’ Year of Mercy. You are invited to write words of welcome to be dedicated at a special service later in 2016 and sent to refugees in the UK or around the world.
Hundreds of handmade crosses carved by an Italian carpenter from the driftwood of capsized refugee boats are being shared with Catholic communities across England and Wales.
Pope Francis carried a ‘Lampedusa cross’ – so named for the Italian island that is home to carpenter Francesco Tuccio and where thousands of refugees have drowned – at a memorial service for those who had died. The crosses will now act as a symbol for communities in England and Walesas they respond to the refugee crisis.
As part of a campaign led by Catholic charities CAFOD and CSAN with JRS, Mr. Tuccio’s crosses will now be shared with hundreds of churches across England and Wales for use by Catholics keen to respond to the call of Pope Francis to show greater compassion for migrants. The crosses are the first destined for the UK since the British Museum acquired a Lampedusa cross for display in its collection in November 2015. Each Catholic cathedral in England and Wales has been presented with a cross and invited to display it.
Catholics of all ages in schools, churches and communities across England and Wales have already begun sharing messages of welcome, hope and love, which will be shared with refugees in the UK and overseas as an act of solidarity and dedicated at a special event to take place in November.
Three years ago JRS UK Director Sarah Teather (in her capacity then as a parliamentarian) and JRS Detention Outreach Co-ordinator, Sr Margaret Baxter SSMN, were privileged to make a journey on the Thames River on one such refugee boat. We are now pleased to invite others to pray with one of the Lampedusa crosses to honour our refugee sisters and brothers who have travelled to safety.
Staff from JRS Europe and across the Middle East and North Africa are accompanying refugees as they make their journeys to safety. Through serving refugees coming through Greece, Italy, Croatia and Malta, we are able to advocate as well for their protection needs.
The three Catholic charities have together produced a pilgrimage reflection, featuring seven stages where communities can consider the plight of refugees and reflect on Scripture and the recent teachings of Pope Francis. The reflection can be used by the many dioceses that are planning pilgrimages as part of the Year of Mercy announced by Pope Francis.
Resources to support the campaign can be downloaded from the CAFOD campaign website.