CAFOD is undertaking significant work with refugees in various parts of the world. However, as well as the practical help it provides it is also campaigning to raise awareness among the whole Catholic Community in England and Wales about the plight of refugees and encouraging everyone to write messages of hope to be presented at a special service at the end of the Year of Mercy.
Francesco Tuccio is 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.
CAFOD is in the process of presenting one of these crosses to each Bishop in England and Wales. It is asking that they are used across the dioceses.
Bishop Marcus said: “I am happy to commend the Lampedusa Cross as a commitment to our support for refugees. My hope for this pilgrimage with the cross to Ripon Cathedral is that we stand in solidarity with these people at this time. Quite often we feel unsure as to what we can do – and if it will make any impact – and this is a way we can take action.”
Andrea, a CAFOD volunteer in the Leeds Diocese, said: “It was a privilege to take the cross and recommend it to the Bishop as a symbol of our solidarity with the refugee community. It will be a very emotional experience because of the cross’s history and the lives that it has seen prior to it coming to the Leeds diocese.”