Justice and Peace in Creation: Autumn Assembly 2023 - Raising Voices for Refugees & Migrants

The Commission for Justice and Peace in the Archdiocese of Southwark is holding an Autumn Assembly on Saturday 23rd September 2023. Entitled 'The Right to Stay: Free to Choose' the Commission is raising its voices for Refugees and Migrants.

JPIC Autumn Assembly 2023: Raising a voice for Migrants

Please join us at St Edmund of Canterbury Catholic Church, 20 Village Way, Beckenham, Kent BR3 3NP for the Parish Mass at 10 am, the Principle Celebrant is the Right Reverend Paul McAleenan, Bishop for Migrants and Refugees.  Registration is from 10.30 am in the parish hall. The programme starts at 11 am finishing at 4 pm. Entrance is free but donations are welcome and lunch will be provided. 

Pope Francis reminds us in his letter for the 109th World Day of Migrants and Refugees that everyone has the right to live in peace in a country free from poverty, plundering and persecution.  The names, the faces, the stories of those suffering the worst abuse and exploitation are not being heard?  The UK Migration Act passed in July drowns out the voice of the voiceless and those who support the moral teaching of the church seeking to protect the dignity of the human person, a right belonging to everyone.

Key note speaker, Bishop Paul McAleenan, Member of the Department for International Affairs at the Bishops Conference for England and Wales will lead on the principles of ‘Love the Stranger’ What really happens at Napier Barracks? in a Catholic response to refugees and migrants that shapes our Christian duty to look beyond such labels and see the person who has left their homeland in search of a better life, enabling us to reflect upon how we can apply this in our own lives, in our parishes, our schools, and in public life in fulfilling our obligations, setting an example to others of loving the stranger in the way that God intends.

Ben Bano of Seeking Sanctuary and Brother Johannes Maertens, a missionary monk of the Monastery of the Good Shepherd and London Catholic Worker present The Radical Spirituality of Welcome: The Life and Legacy of Mother Maria Skobtsova. The life and legacy of this remarkable woman who was born in 1891.  Although raised devoutly Orthodox, the death of her beloved father at the age of 14 caused her to have a lapse of faith. As a result, she spent several years as a sworn atheist and took part in the Russian Revolution in 1917 before returning to the Orthodox Faith. She next emigrated to Paris where she became a nun. Working tirelessly to welcome refugees and exiles she established houses of welcome, which after 1940 welcomed Jewish refugees. She was deported to Ravensbruck in 1943 where she died two years later. Alongside her outreach work, she developed a theology of the Cross which is particularly relevant to our welcome of refugees and asylum seekers. She has been proclaimed a saint in the Orthodox Church.

Reverend Deacon Duncan Aitkins speaks on ‘The Face of Catholic Social Teaching: Raising the Catholic Voice’ Within the legislation, the Home Secretary states under Section 19(1)(b) of the Human Rights Act that she is unable to confirm the bill is compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights. This does not mean that it is necessarily incompatible, but that the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) may rule against the UK government’s policies. Mrs Braverman confirmed in a letter to backbench MPs that “there is a more [than] 50% chance” that it may be incompatible with the convention. Separately the UN Refugee Agency, among others, have said that the bill breaches the UN’s 1951 Refugee Convention by preventing people who arrive irregularly a chance to seek asylum in the UK, amounting to an effective “asylum ban. It is important that MPs and Peers hear the Catholic Voice on this Bill.  At the Assembly we will have a session where we will rehearse the questions and organise a group of Catholics who will be willing to visit Parliament and speak against this Bill.

Under the new Bill, people deemed inadmissible would be “permanently inadmissible in the UK”. This state of affairs must be challenged.  Rev. Deacon Duncan will be organising a group with the help of the SVP Advocacy Team to arrange a meeting with MPs and Peers later this year. If you feel strongly on this issue, come and voice your concerns.”

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It is possible to work collectively towards a compassionate and fair asylum system because the government is bound to protect the dignity of the human person, not destroy it.  Unless they tackle the root cause of the suffering endured by migrants and refugees, the mass movement of people across Europe will not diminish but continue to change the political atmosphere as countries struggle to find a solution to the common good for all.

Come prepared to make your voice heard.

Send an email to justiceandpeace@rcaos.org.uk to let us know you will be there.


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