31 October 2019, The Tablet

These 39 tragedies must not be in vain


Harsh though it may seem to say so, official attempts to stop people smuggling may have unwittingly contributed to the haunting tragedy that was uncovered in the back of a refrigeration lorry in Essex, where 39 people had died apparently from lack of oxygen.

Refrigeration lorries have become the vehicle of choice for people smugglers, because their metal construction impedes X-rays and heat detectors, and the way they are sealed prevents the tell-tale release of carbon dioxide. It is by such means that the traffickers have learnt to outwit the anti-smuggling technology that is increasingly deployed at ports of entry. But it is also manifestly a death trap.

Since the discovery, more details have emerged. There seems little doubt that organised criminal gangs arranged the long and complex journey of the victims. Many, possibly all of them, came from a particular area of Vietnam, and, perhaps surprisingly, many were Catholics. Their parish priest has been interviewed on television, and Mass has been said for the repose of their souls and the comfort of their devastated friends and families.

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User Comments (1)

Comment by: Aloysius Beebwa
Posted: 06/11/2019 12:50:50
I have belatedly just read Tina Beattie's article 'Theology in transition: opposition to Pope Francis' reforms is entrenched worldwide' (31 July 2019). It is a great pity that her theological views and scholarship continue to get demonised in parts of Father-Mother Church. Why is there so much animosity to one of the most serious teachers of faith of our times? Is it fear? Is it clericalism? We sadly miss opportunities when power is used to shut down voices in the name of defending God. God, as many lucid thinkers have argued time and again does not need defending. God can sort out God's business. If we wish to grow as pilgrims, we need to wake up fully to the fact that all voices needed to be heard and listened to for democracy to dawn. The humanity of Vatican II needs to be allowed to flourish so that people of these demanding times can joyfully rejoice in the liberating force of the Gospel; the good news. Jesus came so that we would all have life in abundance. We are all, in baptism, after all, priests, kings and prophets, as the insights from Christian tradition remind us so often. We are, besides, all created in the likeness of God, and finally there are many room's in God's house as John's Gospel assures us. Tina Beattie is be applauded for her commitment to build broad communities of brothers and sisters of Jesus, through study and scholarship. The Kingdom of God is close at hand. May the Holy Spirit blow as She wills and pleases. A. Beebwa