European Pilgrimage – Day 4, from Strasbourg to Tournus

Blog post by Julia Corcoran


Westminster Pilgrims outside the Council of Europe

This morning started with a tour of the Council of Europe building. The Council of Europe is a separate organisation from the European Union with 47 members. The United Kingdom was one of the founding members and will still be a member after March 2019. The Council of Europe is an organisation that ensures human rights, in the countries of its members, are kept. To be a member of the Council, a country must comply with the European Convention on Human Rights. In the UK this is ratified into UK law by the Human Rights Act 1998. If at any point anyone feels a member state has broken the conventions, after they have exhausted the legal system in the state, they may then take the decision to the European Court of Human Rights.

It was a worthwhile experience for the group to go the Council of Europe and see the plenary room as it gave a better understanding of where the UK fits into the European situation even after Brexit.

Part of the group was able to walk around the outside and see the European Union Parliament building in Strasbourg and the Court. While others were able to talk to people who were campaigning outside the Council of Europe.

From the Council, we travelled six hours on the coach to Tournus. We are staying here until Saturday morning. Tomorrow, we will travel to Taize (not too far from where we are staying) to join in the activities that take place. While here we are exploring the theme of reconciliation.

When we arrived in Tournus, some of the group went on a walk around the village to see the different sites including a beautiful old church. Then we had an amazing four course dinner which was a welcome change from our previous basic meals.

The most beautiful part of today, was coming together after dinner for Mass. Ending our day listening to God’s word and sharing the Eucharist was the perfect way to end today as well as preparing us for the morning and gave us time to reflect on our theme of reconciliation.

After we leave here on Saturday morning, we will have a 10 hour coach journey down to Assisi through the Alps where we will spend a few days and even fit in a day trip to Rome. From there we will start our long trip home via Geneva.

As a group we have learnt a lot about our position as British Europeans and how Britain fits in with the rest of Europe. We have so far meet a variety of people and organisations that are doing similar work to the Westminster Diocese Justice and Peace Commission which is great as we are here on this pilgrimage to build bridges not borders, in the words of Pope Francis.