Lampedusa crosses - showing solidarity with refugees
9 May 2016
Forced out by war, poverty or persecution, millions of people across God’s earth face uncertain lives as migrants and refugees.
The refugee crisis in Europe
Increasingly we are witnessing families and communities being pulled apart, with many risking – and losing – their lives in a bid to reach safety in Europe. Our Catholic faith calls us to act, yet such is the scale of the problem it can be hard to know how we can best help.
‘We ourselves need to see, and then to enable others to see, that migrants and refugees…are brothers and sisters to be welcomed, respected and loved.’
Yet even seemingly small acts can make a massive difference. One example of this is Francesco Tuccio, a carpenter from the small Italian island of Lampedusa. When hundreds of refugees who were fleeing Eritrea and Somalia drowned off the coast of Lampedusa, he was moved to gather the driftwood from the wrecked boats and turn them into crosses, which he offered to survivors as a small but powerful symbol of hope.
Pope Francis carried one of the Lampedusa crosses at a memorial Mass to commemorate people who have died, and the British Museum is now displaying a Lampedusa cross as a reminder to people of the refugee crisis the world is facing.
How you can stand in solidarity with refugees worldwide
Inspired by Francesco Tuccio’s actions, CAFOD has sent one of his Lampedusa crosses to every cathedral in England and Wales and inviting them to display it. We’ve also shared crosses with schools and parishes where they can be used by Catholics to reflect on the refugee crisis and what they can do to help.
You can show your love by sending a message of hope and welcome that will be passed on to groups working with refugees. Thousands of these messages were dedicated at a special service for refugees in December 2016.
You can join with others in your school or parish to take part together in a pilgrimage reflection put together by CAFOD, Caritas Social Action Network (CSAN) and the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS). It features seven different stages, and you can use it to consider the plight of refugees and to reflect on scripture and the recent teachings of Pope Francis. Perhaps your church or diocese is organising a pilgrimage already as part of Pope Francis’ Year of Mercy – why not download the resources and see if they can help?
With so many humanitarian emergencies facing the world, the challenge ahead can seem daunting, particularly to each of us on our own. Yet together, through prayer, reflection, and simply sending a message of how much we care, we can make a big difference.