Refugee Week Report 2022, 20th-26th June

Asylum Seeker Maimuna Jawo, speaking at the Stories of Welcome event Monday 20th June 2022

Stories of Welcome 20th June, 2022

This Refugee Week (20-26 June 2022), Caritas Westminster alongside the Anglican Dioceses of Westminster and Southwark wanted to share some ‘Stories of Welcome’ from communities across the London and east Surrey. Resources, including five videos, a booklet and an infographic were launched on World Refugee Day. Each account detailed demonstrates how simple a welcome can be, which is in contrast with the transformative power of the encounter that the welcome enables.  

The ecumenical launch event, held at The Church of the Immaculate Conception, Farm Street, opened with a prayer from the Bishop of Stepney, the Rt Revd Dr Joanne Grenfell Woolway. Those assembled heard key-note speeches from the Auxiliary Bishop of Westminster, the Rt Revd Paul McAleenan, Maimuna Jawo and the Bishop of Southwark, the Rt Revd Christopher Chessun.  

Read Rosa Lewis’ blog of the launch event here – Stories of Infinite Worth and Dignity

Bishop Paul’s Address

Watch the videos:

Revd Dr Sam Well’s Lecture, London Churches Refugee Fund 20th June, 2022

Click here for the link to Reverend Sam Well’s talk on ‘So Many Kinds of Wrong’ concerning the Rwandan refugee crisis (held Monday 20th June at 7.00pm, St Martins-in-the-Fields, Trafalgar Square.)

Westminster Social Justice and Peace Forum

Save the Date! The next Forum will be addressing contribution made by the Catholic Church to meet the needs of refugees and asylum seekers. All are welcome to join us.

Saturday, 17th September, 10am – 1pm
‘To Accompany Refugees’
St Aloysius Church Hall, 20 Phoenix Road, NW1 1TA

Hosted by Bishop Paul McAleenan and Bishop Nicholas Hudson

Register with Eventbrite

Join the TUC ‘We Demand Better’ Demo, Saturday 18th June, 10.30am, Central London

Stop the Rwanda plan – All Refugees Welcome

As members of the Together With Refugees coalition, Westminster Justice & Peace and Caritas Westminster invite you to join us at Saturday’s demonstration ‘We Demand Better’ organised by the TUC.

Coalition member, Care for Calais, along with Stand Up To Racism, are leading a refugee bloc in the TUC demo about the Cost-of-Living Crisis in London, on Saturday 18 June 2022.

When there are social problems in the UK refugees and migrants are often blamed. As the Cost of Living Crisis worsens the government is using racism as way to divide and rule people. We say #AllRefugeesWelcome – we won’t let racism divide us. We need unity in the face of the Cost of Living Crisis. The TUC’s demo offers a great opportunity to show solidarity and unity and promote the rights of refugees.  

Let us know if you would like to join us in the ‘Stop the Rwanda plan – All Refugees Welcome’ bloc by emailing Colette Joyce at colettejoyce@rcdow.org.uk or call 07593 434905.

Gather at 10.30am, Portland Place, London, W1B 1, United Kingdom

More event details

Refugee Week 20th-26th June 2022 – Theme ‘Healing’

Refugee Week is a UK-wide festival celebrating the contributions, creativity and resilience of refugees and people seeking sanctuary. This annual event founded in 1998 is held every year around the UN World Refugee Day on 20th June and is a growing global movement.

It will involve a dynamic programme of arts, culture, sports, educational, media and creative campaigns. Refugee Week aims for UK refugees from different backgrounds to connect and share their experiences, perspectives and creative work. Hopefully this will encourage understanding of why people are displaced and the challenges they face when seeking safety. Refugee Week’s vision is for refugees and asylum seekers to be able to live safely within inclusive and resilient communities, where they can continue to make a valuable contribution.  This reflects our values that everyone has a right to be safe, and treated fairly with respect and kindness.

Refugee Week is an umbrella festival, and anyone can get involved by holding or joining an event or activity. The events will happen in a variety of spaces ranging from arts festivals, exhibitions and film screenings and museum tours to football tournaments, public talks and activities in schools.

Christian events in London include:

20th June, 12.30-1.30pm: Prayer Vigil outside the Home Office with Westminster Justice & Peace and London Catholic Worker to pray for migrants seeking safe passage to the UK. Contact Barbara Kentish (J & P) barbarakentish@talktalk.net 

20th June, 7pm: London Churches Refugee Fund Annual Speaker Meeting. Revd Dr Sam Wells ‘So Many Kinds of Wrong: A Theological Response to the Rwanda Asylum Initiative‘ – St Martin-in-the-Fields, Trafalgar Square, WC2N 4JH. Further details www.lcrf.org.uk  Email info@lcrf.org.uk

20th June 2022, 6-8pm: Stories of Welcome. Farm Street Church (‘Arrupe Hall’), 114 Mount Street, London, W1K 3AH. Share and celebrate the stories of how our London churches and parishes are welcoming asylum seekers, migrants and refugees from Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Eritrea, Ukraine, Hong Kong and so many other countries.

Speakers will include:

The Right Revd Paul McAleenan (Diocese of Westminster and Lead Bishop for Migrants and Refugees)

The Right Revd Joanne Grenfell (Bishop of Stepney, Diocese of London)

The Bishop of Southwark, The Rt Revd Christopher Chessun

This event is hosted jointly by the Compassionate Communities Team (Diocese of London), the Diocese of Southwark and Caritas Westminster.

Refugee Week Website

Click here for the Vatican Document: The Love of Christ Towards Migrants

Prayer for Refugee Week:

God creator of all,
For people who are displaced,
may they find a safe refuge.

For people who have lost control of their lives,
may they know a sure foundation.

For people who live in fear,
may they be given a strong fortress.

For people who are disillusioned,
may they have hope in a future.

Loving father in times of crisis, sorrow and uncertainty
we ask that you draw near.

Amen

Bishop Paul McAleenan on Rwanda Deportations: “Crime is defeated by confronting the perpetrators not by punishing victims”

Bishop Paul McAleenan

Source: Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales

The UK’s plans to forcibly deport to Rwanda some of those seeking refuge in our country is shamefully illustrative of what Pope Francis has called the ‘loss of that sense of responsibility for our brothers and sisters on which every civil society is based’.

The plan is presented as a humanitarian response to combat people trafficking and smuggling yet the result will compound the suffering of those who are already victims. Crime is defeated by confronting the perpetrators not by punishing victims. This scheme will increase the difficulties of those hoping for a new beginning, and it does nothing to address the problems which cause people to flee their homes.

Migration is a complex issue, but it is not resolved by delegating our roles and responsibilities to other countries. Our starting point should be the innate dignity of every person, created in the image and likeness of God. Our Christian faith demands that we respond generously to asylum seekers whose dignity must be protected and upheld.

Whether or not the flight to Rwanda takes off today we are now in a new situation. With greater force we insist that asylum seekers are not commodities for profit, nor are they problems to be rejected and deported by government. Instead we should be guided by the four verbs provided by Pope Francis in our approach to migrants and refugees, ‘Welcome, protect, promote and integrate’.

Bishop Paul McAleenan
Lead Bishop for Migration Issues

Next Vigil Outside Home Office – Monday 20th June 2022, 12.30-1.30pm, UNHCR World Refugee Day

All are welcome to join us for prayer and reflection at the next monthly Vigil outside the Home Office, Marsham Street, SW1P 4DF, on Monday 20th June 2022,12.30-1.30pm.

This month’s Vigil takes place at the beginning of Refugee Week on UNHCR World Refugee Day.

This year’s theme for World Refugee Day:
Whoever. Wherever. Whenever. Everyone has the right to seek safety

We remember:

  • those who have died trying to reach the UK,
  • the many victims of the war in Ukraine
  • those who work with asylum seekers in detention centres, and those who are homeless
  • those who struggle to inject welcome and humanity into our legislation.

For further information contact johanmaertens@hotmail.com or barbarakentish@talktalk.net

Links

Refugee Week, 20-26 June 2022. Theme: Healing

Refugee Week 2022: Stories of Welcome. Monday 20 June, 6.00-8.00pm. Farm Street Church (Arrupe Hall), 114 Mount Street, London, W1K 3AH. Joint event hosted by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Westminster and the Anglican Dioceses of London and Southwark. Join us to hear stories of our churches and parishes across London welcoming refugees, migrants and asylum seekers. Free. Book in advance with Eventbrite.

Update on Rwanda Deportations from Care 4 Calais

Source: Care 4 Calais

The refugee support organisation, Care4Calais, are challenging government proposals to begin deporting asylum seekers to Rwanda as soon as 14th June. They circulated the following update on 6th June:

We are now working with 80 out of the 100 people that the Government have sent ‘Notices of Intent‘ saying that they will be sent to Rwanda. 17 have received notices to say their deportation is imminent, ten of which mention 14 June. They are all in detention centres and they are all very scared.

Priti Patel says the Rwanda plan will offer migrants “an opportunity to build prosperous lives in safety”. However every single one of the people we have spoken to is shocked and traumatised at the thought of being forcibly sent. We’ve had a five day hunger strike and numerous late night conversations with people who feel suicidal. One said “They can send my dead body to Rwanda, but I would rather die than go there”.

The Home Office say they are only sending single men to Rwanda, but the reality is that they are sending men who are not accompanied by their wives, children or other dependent relatives at this point in time.

The reason that many embark on these incredibly dangerous journeys is that they see it as the only way to find a safe future for their families. I spoke to a man from Sudan who left his wife and unborn child in a refugee camp where they could be trapped for many years if he did not find an alternate future for them. His journey took two years and has left horrific scars, but now he is terrified he has let them down. If he gets sent to Rwanda he may never meet the child that was born after he left.

Another man will be forced to leave his 16 year old brother behind in the UK, and another, the wife that he came here to join and has not seen for three years. Many are fearful of the effect that being sent to Rwanda will have on their families back home.

We have not yet been told how people are selected to go to Rwanda but around a third of those we are talking to in detention are from Sudan. The next biggest group is from Syria. In our experience this is not representative of those who generally cross the Channel.

By contrast, we only have three Afghan refugees in our sample with a Rwanda notice – yet we are told that Afghans make up 25% of those crossing in small boats.

Two of the boys say that they are just 16 years old. The Home Office say they are 23 and 26 so it is essential that proper age assessments are done before any deportation takes place. One 16 year old saw his brother killed in front of him when his village was raided in Sudan. He escaped and went back later to find the whole village gone.

We estimate that over 70% of those with Rwanda notices have suffered torture or trafficking either in their home countries or on the incredibly dangerous journeys they have made. As a result, many have serious physical and mental scars and are finding the intense stress of detention, coupled with the threat of being sent Rwanda, intolerable.

One man who endured extreme torture in Libya told me that every time the door to his room bangs shut it gives him flashbacks to being tortured in Libya. This makes him feel like he is going insane.

Every single one of these people has a devastating account of the horrors they have escaped from in their home countries. Be it war, torture or persecution, they are all difficult to hear. The fact that our Government is putting them through the intense trauma of a deportation to another dangerous future is simply barbaric.

I spoke to another man who was tortured In Libya. They broke his nose and his shoulder twice; he has scars on his back and stomach from being electrocuted. He said “Things like that can happen in Libya, there is no government and it is lawless. But I never expected to be put in prison in the UK for committing no crime.”

He said that when he was being tortured the one thing that kept him going was hope in the UK as being a place where fairness and equality exists. Now, being told that the UK will forcibly deport him to a country that has been condemned for human rights violations smashes that hope to pieces.

That people believe that the UK is a good place that will treat them fairly is something we should be proud of; that throughout the world the UK is a beacon of all that is good is an amazing reputation that we could now lose.

The ‘logic’ to the Rwanda plan is that we take people who, by definition, have escaped from the very worst things in this world, who are so desperate they are willing to get in frightening and flimsy boats to cross the Channel, and present them with something that fills them with even more terror in order to deter them from coming. Is this really what we as a civilised nation want to do?

There is a more humane and civilised solution right in front of us now. If we gave all refugees visas to cross the Channel, in the same way we do with Ukrainians, no one would need to risk their lives in small boats, and people smugglers would be put out of business overnight. This must be possible – we are taking seven year’s worth of Channel refugees in our 200,000 Ukrainians this year.

Over the four day bank holiday weekend the Care4Calais access team and our fabulous refugee volunteers have worked right through to stay in touch with everyone, sort out paperwork, keep people up to date and reassure them. We cannot thank them enough for their efforts. The work of this team is essential; more than ever given the Nationality and Borders Act. We are raising funds for a new caseworker and need all the help we can get. Please donate now – no amount is too small to help bit.ly/c4caccess

What can I do?

Plans to send asylum seekers to Rwanda have been criticised by a number of Christian leaders including Catholic Bishop Paul McAleenan. Read – Bishop Critical of Rwanda Plans

Visit Care 4 Calais website – Stop Rwanda

Write to your MP – Bail for Immigration Detainees Website

Sign the Parliamentary Petition – Stop the Government’s One Way Ticket Plan

Demonstrate – Demo Dates and Venues

Westminster Cathedral Hosts the Annual Mass for Migrants, 2nd May 2022, and shows solidarity with Ukrainian Catholic Church

Source: Diocese of Westminster

The annual Mass for Migrants, on the Feast of St Joseph the Worker, took place in Westminster Cathedral on Bank Holiday Monday, 2nd May 2022, in celebration of the significant contribution made by migrants to the life of the Dioceses of Brentwood, Southwark and Westminster.

Ahead of the Mass, members of Ethnic Chaplaincies from all three dioceses took part in a vibrant, colourful banner procession, leading into the Cathedral.

Bishop Michael Campbell OSA was the principal celebrant, along with around 30 Ethnic Chaplains and other priests. Ecumenical guests included the Dr Guli Francis-Dehqani, Bishop of Chelmsford and Dr Ric Thorpe, Bishop of Islington, for the Church of England.

As is customary, there were testimonies from a couple of guests about some of the issues that affect refugees and migrants. This year, there was also a testimony from Fr Andriy Tsyaputa from the Ukrainian community who spoke about the situation in Ukrainian Churches, saying that they ‘are still open and launching large-scale humanitarian help during the war.’

‘While others are fleeing, local churches are engaging. They’re bravely rushing to help those in need right now. They’re unstoppable in the face of this crisis. Local believers are visiting those who are fleeing, and sharing God’s love with them.’

‘And we all understand that the church in Ukraine is still standing, because of your help. Thank you for praying for Ukraine. Thank you for helping us.’

Music was led by Ss Michael & Martin, Hounslow, Youth and Caribbean Music Ministry under the direction of Mary Pierre-Harvey. The choir from the Ukrainian Catholic Church added to the commemoration with several post-Communion hymns. Members of the Ukrainian Catholic Church were warmly welcomed by the congregation.

The Mass was organised by the Caritas and Justice and Peace agencies of the three Dioceses, with participation from Ethnic Chaplaincies and London Citizens.

The Migrants Mass has been celebrated every year since 2006, when it was initiated by Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, then-Archbishop of Westminster, at the suggestion of London Citizens. The Cardinal called for a more just treatment of migrant workers at that first Mass, an important act of witness.  The Mass is held annually, hosted in turn by one of the three Dioceses of Brentwood, Southwark and Westminster for the feast of St Joseph the Worker as a celebration of the valuable contributions made by so many migrants to the life and economy of London and the surrounding counties.

The Mass is also a sign of the Catholic community’s solidarity with refugees and asylum seekers.

Photos of the events are available at https://www.flickr.com/photos/catholicwestminster/albums/72177720298581088

Full Text of Fr Andriy Tsyaputa’s Testimony:

Fr Andriy Tsyaputa – Ukrainian Catholic Church

Dear Priests, brothers and sisters in Christ. First of all, I want to apologise for my accent and English language, I am still learning.

I would like to tell you about the situation in our Ukrainian churches, I came from Ukraine recently. Churches in Ukraine are still open and launching a large-scale humanitarian help during the war. Christians are delivering aid to everybody who needs help. Supported by your prayers and donations, every catholic church in Ukraine providing food, clothes, medicines and all required equipment for thousands of people. Many Ukrainians have no place where to live, because war erupts around them. So they live in churches, in monasteries or seminaries. Thousands of displaced people are housed safely in church buildings every night.

Churches across Ukraine continue to provide spiritual and material support to war victims even in areas under heavy attack or already overrun by Russian forces. The Catholic Church continues to be active in all regions, even in those that are under occupation. They gather for services and prayer and organize help for all they can.

While others are fleeing, local churches are engaging. They’re bravely rushing to help those who are in need right now. They’re unstoppable in the face of this crisis. Local believers are visiting those who are fleeing, and sharing God’s love with them.

And we all understand, that the church in Ukraine is still standing, because of your help. Thank you for praying for Ukraine. Thank you for helping us. Thank you for supporting Ukraine. I know that the United Kingdom is helping more than other countries. God bless you. God bless the United Kingdom. 

Prayers at Home Office for those who have died seeking sanctuary

Source: Jo Siedlecka, Independent Catholic News

Campaigners gathered outside the Home Office in London yesterday for their monthly Prayer Vigil for “those who died trying to reach the UK, those who are still trying, and those who still have no safe haven.”

Organised by London Catholic Worker and Westminster Justice and Peace, there were prayers, hymns and the recitation of a list of names or descriptions of individuals who died in a single month attempting to reach Europe. While more and more people have been displaced by war, famine and climate change, harsh immigration rules make it impossible to apply for asylum in the UK – unless an individual is already in the country – forcing people to make the perilous channel crossing.

An excerpt from Archbishop Justin Welby’s Easter sermon was read out, in which he said:

“The resurrection of Jesus is not a magic wand that makes the world perfect. But the resurrection of Christ is the tectonic shift in the way the cosmos works. It is the conquest of death and the opening of eternal life, through Jesus a gift offered to every human being who reaches out to him. Not just for individuals, but setting a benchmark for every society because God is Lord of every society and nation.”

Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby

Reflection by Rev Chris Brice

Rev Chris Brice, Chair of London Churches Refugee Fund gave the following reflection:

“Meeting today in the shadow of the horrors of the war in Ukraine brings home all too starkly the burden of sin and evil under which our world labours, and has laboured, for millennia.

Our Judaeo-Christian story almost from its opening chapters, shows human beings, made in God’s loving and creative image, all too quickly falling into deceit, selfishness, resentment, murder, and disobedience to God’s Moral laws – seduced by the wiles of the “enemy” who is intent on destroying God’s beautiful new creation out of jealousy, bitter rage, and spite. From this follows all war and hatred, and the desire to exercise tyrannical power, that we see demonstrated so tragically today in Syria, in Ukraine, in Myanmar, in Yemen, in Eritrea, in Afghanistan, and even in the UK’s latest asylum legislation.

It was from such oppression, enslavement, and genocide that God called and rescued the children of Israel, enabling them to escape from the hell on earth that was the rule of the Pharaohs and to flee across the sea to a place of safety and security, flowing with milk and honey.

And still today this Exodus is enacted again and again as our persecuted, oppressed, and traumatised sisters and brothers flee in fear of their lives from war-torn countries across the world in search of safety. 28,000 of them last year crossed, not the Red Sea, but the English Channel, pursued by their nightmares of torture, death, rape, and imprisonment.

And it is these very people, when they arrive exhausted, alone, destitute, and distraught on the streets of London, with no means of support or shelter, that 100’s of “front line” refugee projects across London are there to help. To name just a few from the Projects supported by the London Churches Refugee Fund in 2020, are:

Action for Refugees in Lewisham. African Refugee Community. All People All Places, Article 1 Charitable Trust, Asylum from Rape, Barnet Refugee Service, C4WS Homeless Project, Citizens of the World Choir, Cotton Tree, Croydon Refugee Day Centre, Freedom from Torture, Hackney Migrant Centre, Happy Baby Community, Housing Justice, Islington Centre for Refugees and Migrants, Jesuit Refugee Service, Jewish Council for Racial Equality (JCORE), Lewisham Refugee and Migrant Network, London Catholic Worker Refugee Shelter, London Jesus Centre, Migrants Organise, Migrateful, New North London Synagogue Destitute Asylum Seekers Drop-In, Notre Dame Refugee Centre, Refugee Council, Room to Heal, Samphire, Streatham Drop-In Centre, and West London Welcome.

All of them based here in London – not in Rwanda!

These, and scores of other refugee projects across London, and the people who support them, are lights shining in the darkness of war and suffering … and thanks to their work and generosity… the darkness will not overcome that light. Not even the current darkness of the asylum legislation being conceived in the building behind us.

To give just one example, amongst thousands, of someone whom one of these projects have helped in London, I now quote from a London Churches Refugee Fund Lent resource written by Trustee Robina Rafferty.

Consider Ms Z, aged 20, from Somalia, who was trafficked in the UK as an unaccompanied minor aged 16 and kept in isolation for many years in the UK. She was raped and forced into prostitution by her agents, and advised not to try to escape otherwise her family in Somalia would be in trouble. She was fearful, and suffering in silence, until one day she managed to run away. She made an application for UK asylum, but when that was refused, she lost her emergency accommodation and financial support in London. When she came to the African Refugee Community (ARC) in North London she was homeless, disoriented and suffering from severe depression. ARC supported her financially with food vouchers, transport costs, hygiene packs and phone cards using their London Churches Refugee Fund Grant. She also received advocacy, and is now in contact with a GP, mental health counsellor and a solicitor to help with her Fresh asylum application. She now feels happy when she comes to the ARC office to collect her hardship payment, and her mental, social, and physical well-being is improving gradually because of the support she receives here in the UK.

How would we cope if trafficked far away from our family and friends, our homeland? A teenager raped and forced into prostitution for years, ashamed, degraded, always afraid. No-one to turn to. Utter desperation. Even when she escaped from her captors, the UK authorities she turned to for protection let her down. But she has found support, kindness and comfort with people who respect her, treat her as a human being, responding to her needs here in London – not Rwanda.

Jesus always respected the dignity of every individual he met, however much they might be condemned or rejected by society. The lives of the woman caught in adultery, the Samaritan woman at the well, the man born blind, are all transformed by their encounter with Jesus. And He never stopped to ask them if they got to Him through official government channels, or were smuggled into His presence on a boat that had crossed the Sea of Galilee, or in a donkey cart hidden under straw and sacking. Nor did He insist on sending them on a one-way ticket to Rwanda to have their credentials checked and verified before He would agree to help them. No – He recognised their desperate need, accepted them; doing all in His power to help, heal and restore them to full dignity as fellow citizens of God’s Kingdom here on earth

As a postscript, and in the light of this reflection, I would like to sow a seed today that I trust might bear fruit. It is the seed of the intention for Christians like us to pray about, and to compose, a short, accessible, Theological Declaration about the treatment of asylum seekers, here in the UK, comparable to the Barmen Declaration that the Confessing Churches of Germany composed in the face of Nazism and Hitler’s rise to power. A Declaration rooted in Prayer, in Scripture, and in Faith in the power of God’s Word. It would consist of a series of short sharp paragraphs each of which would highlight a relevant scripture verse pertinent to the asylum crisis we now face, and a short exposition as to how this should govern and guide our asylum legislation and the treatment of asylum-seekers.

For instance: Scripture forbids us to mistreat or oppress the aliens or foreigners because we were once foreigners, and “know the heart of an alien”. In Leviticus, we are reminded even more strongly, “the land is mine” says God, “for you are strangers and live as foreigners in this land with me.” It reminds us that we are ALL sharing GOD’S world. We are ALL here through God’s grace and mercy. Treating aliens as less worthy to be here ignores the fact that we have all been given a gift from God – we have not and could not have deserved it. It is through God’s grace alone that we have the privileges we have, and knowing that grace, we are called to share it.

To Cain’s question “Am I my brother’s keeper?” – the answer very clearly is YES – YOU ARE! And your sisters too! – for their blood cries out to God from the earth, and the sea..

In the end, the only way to understand and overcome the principalities and powers of wickedness in high places that we face is the power and the wisdom of GOD operating through the prayer, the actions, and the fasting of people like us. A truth that this gathering month by month so faithfully upholds & demonstrates.

For the battle is Spiritual as well as political. In the end, it is only susceptible to action rooted in a Judaeo Christian analysis of the depth and the perversity of the ungodly powers that seek to confound and destroy God’s good purposes. That’s why Jesus came to witness, to suffer, to die, and to rise again, precisely to overcome the wiles of the evil one and the powers of all forms of death: Including all spiritual – physical- and political- death dealing.

“Truly I tell you”, said Jesus to the helpless disciples, “if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this ungodly mountain of asylum legislation, ‘Move from here to there’, and it will move, right off the Statute book. And nothing will be impossible for you!”. And later translations add that Jesus also insisted that to be effective the disciple’s action must be strengthened by, and grounded in, prayer and fasting. As is so admirably demonstrated in these monthly events organised by the London Catholic Worker which must surely inspire, encourage and guide us individually day by day as now seek to sustain our own life of prayer, of action and of fasting to defeat this legislation and to end the wars in Ukraine and across the world.

Let us Pray: Lord Jesus Christ, who came to bring good news to the poor, give us the courage to reach out to those who are neglected and abandoned, to see you in everyone we meet, regardless of their country of origin, and no matter how they might have reached the UK. And help us to play our part, through prayer, action and fasting in the coming of your kingdom of love and justice in the Home Office, the Ukraine and across the UK, as it is in Heaven.

Amen



The Prayer Vigil takes place outside the Home Office, 2 Marsham Street, SW1P 4DF, on the third Monday of each month from 12.30-1.30pm. For more information contact Barbara Kentish: barbarakentish@talktalk.net

Bishop Paul McAleenan critical of plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda

Bishop Paul McAleenan at Dover memorial to refugees drowned in the Channel. Photo: Mazur/CBCEW.org.uk

Bishop Paul McAleenan at Dover memorial to refugees drowned in the Channel. Photo: Mazur/CBCEW.org.uk

Bishop Paul McAleenan, Lead Bishop for Migrants and Refugees for the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, has followed other faith leaders to object to the UK government’s plan to send some asylum seekers to Rwanda. He said in a statement today: “The proposal to send some of those seeking asylum to Rwanda is at odds with the line from the Prophet Isaiah which we read as we prepare for Easter, ‘He does not break the crushed reed nor quench the wavering flame’.

“Despite presenting the plan as a humanitarian need to combat trafficking, this scheme will compound the difficulties of those arriving on our shores hoping for a new beginning. The actions of the people of this country show that they wish to lift up those in need, decisions of the government should do likewise.

“I am reminded of a memorial plaque on the promenade in Dover honouring those who died at sea seeking refuge. ‘Every migrant has a name, a face, a story’. This should be our starting point. We need to make it convenient for them to tell their story (their Asylum claim) remembering we are dealing with individuals made in God’s image who have endured great hardships in their own country and on their travels.

“The UK Government and the whole international community, motivated by the desire to uphold the dignity of human life, need to address the problems which cause people to flee their homes.

“We pray for all refugees whose sole aim is to survive each day. Led by the Christian spirit, manifested so powerfully at Easter, we should help and not discourage them.”

In his Easter Vigil Homily, Cardinal Vincent made it clear that those who seek solutions to these challenges must do so with compassion and regard for human dignity, saying that ‘this policy announcement simply lacks these qualities.’

Next Prayer Vigil Outside the Home Office, Monday 25th April 2022, 12.30pm

You are invited to our Prayer Vigil on Monday 25th April from 12.30-1.30pm outside the Home Office, Marsham Street, SW1P 4DF

Normally every third Monday of the month, but a week later this month because of Easter.

We remember:

  • those who have died trying to reach the UK
  • the many victims of the war in Ukraine
  • those who work with asylum seekers in detention centres and those who are homeless
  • those who struggle to inject welcome and humanity into our legislation.

We believe that God will prevail, however great the disaster, however great the horror, however great the inhumanity.   

Organised by London Catholic Worker and Westminster Justice & Peace.  

For further information contact Br Johannes Maertens johanmaertens@hotmail.com or Barbara Kentish barbarakentish@talktalk.net