Pope Francis’ recent journey to the Greek island of Lesbos came at the start of the summer, a time of increased attempts by refugees and migrants to make a similar journey to cross into Europe. The European refugee crisis, unfolding over the past year, challenges us practically, politically and spiritually. Pope Francis’ Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy throws this crisis into even sharper relief.
CSAN (Caritas Social Action Network), JRS (Jesuit Refugee Service) and CAFOD have come together to produce a resource which they hope will enable the Catholic Community to reflect, drawing inspiration from the famous Lampedusa crosses. The Lampedusa crosses are symbols of hope hewn by an Italian carpenter from the wreckage of boats carrying people across the Mediterranean. The first one was made from a boat on which 311 Eritrean and Somali refugees were drowned making their way from Libya to Europe. The community on the island helped save the lives of 155 others.
In Lampedusa’s church, Francesco Tuccio, the island’s carpenter, met some of the survivors who were Eritrean Christians. Moved by their situation, he used his skills to make each of them a cross from the wreckage as both a reflection of their salvation from the sea and also as a powerful symbol of hope for their future. A similar cross was made for Pope Francis, who carried it at a memorial service for those who had perished.
These crosses bear witness to the dangerous journeys and many uncertainties migrants and refugees face today, reminding us of the power of our own acts of love, mercy and hope. To show solidarity with refugees and migrants, parish churches and schools across the Brentwood Diocese are invited to host the diocesan Lampedusa cross as a symbol for reflection, prayer and meditation.
CSAN, JRS and CAFOD are also inviting parishioners, groups and schools to send their own personal message of hope to refugees which will be dedicated at a special event at the end of the Year of Mercy and shared with refugees in the UK or around the world.
The pilgrimage resource has been produced which consists of seven short stages. Each stage includes prayers, facts and stories, and an opportunity to reflect on Scripture and the recent teachings of Pope Francis. It ends with an act of commitment in which everyone can take part. The format of the resource is flexible and the pilgrimage can take place in a parish or school hall, or on a coach on the way to a place of pilgrimage such as Lourdes, Walsingham and even World Youth Day.
For more information on the Lampedusa Cross, messages of hope to refugees and the pilgrimage resource, go to http://cafod.org.uk/News/UK-news/Catholics-solidarity-refugees or contact Brentwood’s CAFOD representative, Chris Driscoll, at [email protected] or call 01277 218730.