Amidst the assembled crowds, which included refugees, migrants, 'jungle' volunteers, and some members of the Diocese of Canterbury who had taken part in a ‘solidarity’ march organised by the grassroots volunteer organisation CalAid earlier in the day, the bishops signed the statement which repeated their calls for people to remember the 'common humanity' shared between themselves and those exiled from their homelands.
They resolved to 'work together' to encourage a 'climate of welcome for strangers’, and asked people of faith to continue to show their support for refugees, and to 'pray and gather information to support pleas for better treatment in our nations and across the European Union.'
Addressing the crowd Bishop Trevor said: “My message to you today is simple, and it is that you matter. You are children of God and we come to serve you, to hear you and to be with you.” He was joined on stage by the Bishop of Arras and the Archbishop of Southwark, who also shared messages of support and compassion for those present.
A number of people from the Diocese of Canterbury came to Calais to join in the ‘solidarity’ walk through the ‘jungle’. Judith Rigby, who is part of the Discipleship and Accompaniment team at the Diocese of Canterbury, said the experience had been very powerful:
“It's been such a powerful and moving day, especially as we walked and prayed round the jungle, listening to people's stories. It was so humbling to be offered food and drink there by people who had nothing.
“There are so many smells and sights I won't easily forget and I will be sharing them in an assembly this week at my local primary school.”
The Diocese of Canterbury has recently put together an online toolkit which offers five possible ways to respond to the refugee crisis: Act, Serve, Campaign and Advocate, Get informed, and Pray. Each area contains links to useful organisations, information and advice.
Notes to Editors:
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- The bishops show the signed statement: (Left to right: Bishop Jean-Paul Jaeger, Bishop Trevor Willmott, Archbishop Peter Smith)
- Looking out over the assembled crowds
- Bishop Trevor Willmott (left) and Bishop Jean-Paul (right) take part in one of the many artistic elements of the day
- Members of the Diocese of Canterbury who took part in the ‘solidarity’ walk: (Left to right: Debbie Ellisdon, Judith Rigby)
- A full copy of the statement is here.
- The Day of Action in Calais was organised by CalAid, a London-based group of volunteers collecting and coordinating urgently needed donations for those living in the Calais refugee camps: http://www.calaid.co.uk/ or on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JoinCalAid
- For more information about Archbishop Peter Smith and the Archdiocese of Southwark visit: http://www.rcsouthwark.co.uk/
- The Roman Catholic Diocese of Arras encompasses the Nord-Pas-De-Calais region, of which the Port of Calais is a part: http://arras.catholique.fr/