The Catholic community has pledged its support for Cambridge as a City of Sanctuary.
On Friday 16 June, in the parish hall of Our Lady & the English Martyrs, Father Pat Cleary signed a “Resolution of Support” on behalf of Cambridge Deanery in which the Catholic community pledged to support Cambridge as a City of Sanctuary.
Parishioners from the Catholic Churches of Cambridge then explored what this might mean for our communities. What could we do? And we heard from Cambridge groups actively supporting refugees and asylum seekers.
Rosemary Watson, of City of Sanctuary, linked the ancient role of churches in providing sanctuary to the present day role of faith communities in helping to make Cambridge a place of safety and welcome for refugees and asylum seekers. City of Sanctuary (COS) is developing databases of volunteers for associated charities and national COS. Cambridgeshire Schools of Sanctuary provides expertise and online resources to engage schools and can recommend speakers to lead an assembly. This enables schools to understand why people need sanctuary, be safe and welcoming and shares these ideas with others.
Cambridge Refugee Resettlement Campaign (CRRC) encourages voluntary effort in support of refugees, complementing the role of local authorities. Some churches have provided safe venues for refugees to meet socially or learn English. There remains a pressing need for self-contained accommodation to enable Cambridge to welcome more Syrian refugees under the Vulnerable Person Resettlement Programme.
A representative of Cambridge Convoy Refugee Action Group shared his experience of joining the effort to build basic shelters in the Calais camp. CamCRAG continue to take convoys of goods and volunteers to work with asylum seekers in Europe.
In conclusion, Father Pat spoke of the role of Pope Francis in stressing the imperative of providing support for those seeking sanctuary.