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English and French Church leaders issue statement on Calais refugees

Bishop Jaeger, Bishop Wilmott and Archbishop Smith

Bishop Jaeger, Bishop Wilmott and Archbishop Smith

Catholic and Anglican church leaders from both sides of the English Channel joined a 'Refugee Welcome' Day of Action at the 'Jungle' refugee camp in Calais on Saturday. More than 2,000 supporters from England, Ireland, the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium and other countries gathered at the camp and then walked to the port gates where there was a rally with prayers, speeches, music and poetry.

Most Rev Peter Smith, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Southwark, Most Trevor Wilmott, Anglican Bishop of Dover and the Most Rev Jean-Paul Jaeger, Bishop of Arras all visited the camp.

Afterwards Archbishop Peter told ICN: "Its very sad. People are living here in very bad conditions. But I was delighted to see how resilient people are, showing real enterprise, building the chapel and setting up little shops."

He said: "I've heard some terrible accounts from people - both Christian and Moslem whose loved ones have been killed because of their faith. But I've also been encouraged to see people still remaining hopeful, helping each other and receiving support from volunteers here."

The Archbishop said he hoped the local and national governments on both sides of the channel will put more effort into providing accommodation for the refugees, and most importantly speed up the legal processes to enable these people to fully participate in society.

Archbishop Peter Smith, Bishop Trevor Wilmott, and Bishop Jean-Paul Jaeger, signed the following joint statement at the rally:


We leaders of churches alongside the English Channel have joined in solidarity with this Day of Action in Calais and repeat our calls for people to respond to the growing crisis by showing generosity to those who are exiled from their homeland. These vulnerable men, women and children share in our common humanity and everyone can help them to live in dignity and contribute to civil society.

People of all faiths and none can assist by providing financial and material support, time and skills, shelter and accommodation. Above all, we can pray and gather information to support pleas for better treatment in our nations and across the European Union. We wish to counter the myths that lead to prejudice and fear and urge politicians to envisage new policies that go beyond merely closing frontiers and employing increased numbers of security staff.

We resolve to work together to encourage residents to create a climate of welcome for strangers and we trust that we will be joined in this by all who gather in places of worship along the frontiers of European nations.


Nous dirigeants des églises aux côtés de la Manche ont rejoint en solidarité avec cette journée d'action à Calais et répéter nos appels pour les gens à répondre à la crise croissante en montrant la générosité à ceux qui sont exilés de leur patrie. Ces hommes, femmes et enfants vulnerables partagent notre humanité commune et tout le monde peut les aider à vivre dans la dignité et contribuer à la société civile.

Les gens de toutes les confessions et sans confession peuvents aider en fournissant un soutien financier et matériel, le temps et les compétences, le logement et l'hébergement. Surtout, nous pouvons prier et recueillir de l'information pour soutenir les demandes pour un meilleur traitement dans nos pays et à travers l'Union européenne. Nous tenons à contredire les mythes qui conduisent à la peur et les préjugés et inciter nos politiciens à envisager de nouvelles politiques qui vont au-delà simplement de fermer les frontières et d'employer un nombre accru de personnel de sécurité.

Nous nous engageons à travailler ensemble pour encourager les résidents à créer un climat d'accueil pour les étrangers et nous espérons que nous serons rejoints en cela par tous ceux qui se rassemblent dans des lieux de culte le long des frontières des nations européennes.

See also: ICN 20 September 2105 - Eyewitness: Visit to the 'Jungle' in Calais


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