- Strangers in a strange land
With the United Kingdom criticised for opting out of a European Union plan to resettle thousands of migrants from Africa and the Middle East, what should be the Christian response to immigration and does Scripture offer any guidance?
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The Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Nichols, and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, visited the London Catholic Worker community on Sunday, marking the start of a week of prayer and action for those in need.
The two archbishops travelled to Giuseppe Conlon House in north London, where they met refugees and asylum-seekers to whom the house offers short-term hospitality, and volunteers.
They gathered in the chapel of the house for a joint prayer service at which both archbishops spoke, and visited a bicycle restoration project run by the group. Old bicycles are donated, restored and then given to refugees as a means of transport.
Fr Martin Newell, a prominent anti-war campaigner who was recently jailed for unpaid fines arising from protests, was present during the visit and met Archbishop Welby.
On Sunday the cardinal and the archbishop are travelling to Kent to Folkestone to visit the Rainbow Centre, a Christian organisation that helps families and individuals in crisis.
The week-long initiative (6-13 April) is titled “Listen to God: Hear the Poor”. Organisers have asked Anglicans and Catholics to post on Twitter with the hashtag #ListenToGod what their local church is doing to help people who are poor.
In his reflection on Sunday, Cardinal Nichols praised the Catholic Worker Movement and paid tribute to its founder, Dorothy Day.
Day founded the movement in the 1930s as a network of houses to help the poor and campaign for peace.
In February Cardinal Nichols said it was “a disgrace” that as a result of the Government’s welfare changes, some people in Britain were left for up to two weeks with no money.
The Catholic Worker house in London is named after one of the Maguire Seven, who were jailed in 1976 for possessing explosives for IRA bombs but later had their convictions quashed.
The late Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Basil Hume, campaigned for their release and visited Giuseppe Conlon in jail.
From top: Cardinal Nichols; Archbishop Welby; Fr Martin Newell chats to Archbishop Welby while the cardinal holds his book on Dorothy Day. Photos: Catholic Church (England and Wales)