Remember the Calais Children! – Parliamentary Debate


Remember the Calais Children!  – Parliamentary Debate

Safe Passage, a lobbying group allied to Citizens UK, is urging as many as possible to write to their MPs, asking them to attend a Parliamentary debate on October 24th, about the specific issue of stranded young migrants in Calais.  It is known that the numbers run into 100s, and that they are being very roughly treated by French police, who are implementing a policy of not allowing a resurgence of the ‘Jungle’.   To abandon children to this treatment so near to home is a scandal, and UK immigration law is being flouted, as we do not honour the Dubs Amendment, which would allow any unaccompanied minor to enter, and the Dublin 3 Agreement, which would allow one to enter if he or she had family in the UK.

What’s the ASK?

Safe Passage asks as many as possible

a) to write to their MPs (helpful bullet points will follow, as well as being on their website), asking to meet  them and ask them to attend and speak at the debate on October 24th,   AND

b) to be part of the action at Westminster which starts at 12 noon, with a ‘World Citizens’ choir of activists and refugees, followed by lobbying, all before the debate itself.  

Justice and Peace will shortly publish suggested bullet points to go in your letter, (it’s suggested that this should not be an email, but a paper, even handwritten! letter, as this gets taken more seriously), but meanwhile try and plan a letter writing session with friends, to get a letter in the post arriving at Parliament by October 20th.

See website  


Very successful appeal for unaccompanied minors in Calais to be extended!

Donations arriving in CalaisWe are very grateful to all those who were able to respond, despite the holiday period, to our appeal for goods, clothes and cash for young people in Calais.  Our main contact in Calais is Brother  Johannes Maertens, who with other Catholic Worker members is running a small house for young people stranded in Calais with no means of moving on.  We raised an astonishing £4300 in 5 weeks, and the amount has shot up again in the last week.  Brother Johannes was very grateful and continues to do sterling work there.   We have extended the deadline for donations to November 5th, for those who would still like to contribute.  Here is the link to our Justgiving page.

We are also supporting other charities, such as Secours Catholique in France, and Safe Passage here in the UK are working on the long term issues such as caring for the other migrants (including women and children) drifting back to Calais, and working for legal entry for those who qualify under the Dubs Amendment and Dublin 3 agreement.

North London parishes mark Creation Day with a picnic and Tug of War

CreationDaySt Mellitus Justice and Peace group organised a splendid picnic in Finsbury Park, north London, to mark the World Day of Prayer for Creation yesterday, Sunday 3 September. The weather was not on their side, but it did not stop all present, including Fr John O Leary, parish priest, from having a great time.

A sprinkling of parishioners from St John Vianney’s West Green and St Thomas More, Manor House Parishes, as well as Catholic Worker members, made it possible to organise two Tug of War teams – St Mellitus versus the Rest of the World.

Alas, St Mellitus proved greatly superior to the latter – a mystery to Fr Joe Ryan, a former Irish champion in this sport! Food to bring and share was abundant so that a pile of respectable leftovers was donated to the nearby Catholic Worker. All appreciated the joys of creation amongst many other picnicking groups. This is St Mellitus’ third Creation picnic. The parish looks forward to many more, with the silly games that are such a fun feature!

No Faith in War prayers outside DSEI Arms Fair

Pat Gaffney, general secretary of Pax Christi quoted the words of Pope Francis during prayers for peace outside the Excel Centre in east London on Tuesday – where the DSEI Arms Fair is due to open next Tuesday:

“It is an absurd contradiction to speak of peace, to negotiate peace, and at the same time, promote or permit the arms trade.

Is this war or that war really a war to solve problems or is it a commercial war for selling weapons in illegal trade and so that the merchants of death get rich?

Let us put an end to this situation. Let us pray all together that national leaders may firmly commit themselves to ending the arms trade which victimises so many innocent people.”

There were also prayers and testimonies from several faith leaders – among them an Anglican pastor, who called on everyone present to pray for the police who work so hard to keep our country safe. A Muslim speaker from Bahrain lamented the fact that the vast amounts of money being spent on weapons could be so much better used in medical research and care for the sick. Buddhists present were a reminder of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

In line with the ‘No Faith in War’ theme, the afternoon saw prayer services led by the Quakers, Taize community and Pax Christi with around 100 people participating. The backdrop was peace banners: ‘Bristol Peace’, ‘Brummers for Peace’, Pax Christi, Christian CND, CND and Campaign Against Arms Trade.

The Quakers led a series of refrains, including “Choose life not death” and “We will love even our enemies”. Those who made money out of arms trading were warning not to be “barn-building fools”, a reference to the warnings of Luke 12:18. The Taize-led liturgy included their most popular sung refrains such as ‘Ubi Caritas’ and prayers for victims of war. There was a prayer for those displaced by severe weather and the hope that governments would seriously address one of the causes – Climate Change. All this carried on during heavy rain showers.

The final liturgy of the day was led by Pat Gaffney, the General Secretary of Pax Christi. Pax Chirsti members were there in force, including Bruce Kent, Valerie Flessati and Patricia and Michael Pulham of Christian CND. Fr Joe Ryan represented Westminster Justice and Peace, and Fr Aodh O’Halpin and Ellen Teague the Columban missionaries. Sr Margaret Healy, a Sister of St Louis was amongst the religious sisters. Arms trading companies were named and asked to repent – BAE Systems (the world’s third largest arms producer, whose weapons and equipment are deployed across the world, including in Iraq and Yemen), Lockheed Martin and Rolls Royce amongst them.

This report from the DSEI Arms Fair came from Independent Catholic News

Calais: Nobody should live like this – report from Westminster J&P visit

‘The overwhelming evidence of violence inflicted by the French authorities and the police on children is one of the more shocking findings of this inquiry, whether it be the indiscriminate use of truncheons or the tear gassing of children and their sleeping bags. The UK must work with our European counterparts to ensure that in all cases safeguarding processes are prioritised, the rights of the child and the child’s best interests are upheld’. (‘Nobody should live like this’ Report of Human Trafficking Foundation)

On a wet, cold, end-of-August day, four members of Westminster Justice and Peace left London for the Catholic Worker house in Calais. It was our third or fourth ‘day-trip’ in two years. We arrived to find Brother Johannes tired and preoccupied with health and practical issues in the house. A volunteer sister had accompanied someone to hospital, while some young people were waiting for showers and clothes washing. Johannes took us quickly to a point near the former ‘Jungle’ camp, where several charities were serving hot meals to 40 or 50 young people who looked damp and chilled in the un-summery weather. We had arrived at the tail end of the proceedings.

Help Refugees, Calais Kitchen, Auberge des Migrants and others have banded together to provide nearly 2000 meals a day (lunch and supper) to those who have come back to Calais still hoping to cross the Channel by one means or another. From there we were taken to the far side of the city to another industrial estate where these big charities take deliveries and have a giant industrial size kitchen to cook the meals in large steel containers. Brother Johannes is able to get a good deal of food for the house from this distribution centre.

We were able to tell this very energetic Franciscan brother about the generous donations from parishes and individuals who responded fast to his appeal, which Westminster J&P publicised at the end of July. We raised an astonishing £3,500-plus sum, which Brother Johannes will put towards the drop-in work of Maria Skobstova Catholic Worker House. The bills for electricity and water, alone, are shooting up as some weeks more than 100 showers and clothes-wash-and-dries are offered.

The charity Seeking Sanctuary, has been monitoring and helping the migrant situation in Calais for so many years. They quote the Human Trafficking Foundation as follows:

‘Rt Hon Fiona Mactaggart and Baroness Butler-Sloss GBE, recent Chairs of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Human Trafficking, oversaw the production of a report (ii) from an independent UK inquiry on 10th July, “Nobody deserves to live this way”. It examines the situation of separated and unaccompanied minors in parts of Europe, including France, and was sponsored by the Human Trafficking Foundation. It concludes that protecting children on the move is an issue of child protection and prevention of serious crime as well as immigration. There is overwhelming evidence of violence inflicted by French authorities and police, whether the indiscriminate use of truncheons or the tear gassing of children and their sleeping bags. With the premature end of the “Dubs” scheme and a police-induced mistrust of officials, young people see their routes to the UK as paying people smugglers or becoming entangled with traffickers. The UK should devote resources to devising legal schemes for transferring young people, with more transparency in procedures, improved liaison with charities working with children, and better dissemination of relevant information in appropriate language and formats. (see for further reports and information).

It is clear from just one short visit, that proper procedures are essential so as to respond to the needs and demands of these young people. A Home Office presence in Calais to deal with applications is a minimum requirement. Indeed, the report, Nobody should live like this maintains.

The administration of the Dubs scheme cannot be a solely London based exercise it requires multi-agency teams of specialists on the ground where most children are located, including Calais and Dunkirk to build confidence in safe routes and resistance to traffickers.

After seeing young people abandoned on the edges of the Calais industrial estates, we couldn’t agree more.

The summer in Calais has been difficult but volunteers are very worried about what will happen to the young migrants on the north French coast once the cold weather sets in.

Help a Calais Minor!

Justice and Peace has launched an appeal for the young people in Calais who are surviving hand-to-mouth as the French authorities try to prevent any humanitarian aid on the streets. See our newsletter for more information.



You can contribute via our Justgiving page –

We at Justice and Peace will also be collecting items as requested by Brother Johannes, who lists them as follows:

Donations and gifts are welcome     We can use:    For Personal use:  Shower gel, shampoo, toothbrushes, body cream or oil (like Vaseline, Nivea), Socks 36-43  Boxer shorts S/M  (No Large please), Sport shoes 39-40-41, Pocket nail cutter  (Also helpful: Power bank mobiles).   


Clothes for young men are welcome, BUT PLEASE FOR NOW ONLY small size T-shirts and jeans!  WE HAVE ENOUGH TOWELS AND TOOTHPASTE thank you!   For the house:   Disinfectant,  All-purpose cleaner, Anti-scalant, Toilet cleaner, Washing powder or liquid (mostly color wash, Laundry Stain remover, Softener, Calgon, Washing-up liquid, Tablets and liquid for the dishwasher, Toilet paper.   Food:   Ground Coffee  and lots of MILK – the youngest ones really drink a lot of it. (J&P advise: Buy it at French supermarkets if you visit, or send money.

For small amounts, send the money via our Justgiving website.

For large amounts (making it worth paying the exchange rate), go to Maria Skobstova bank account direct:

Association Maria Skobtsova.  Here are the bank details:  IBAN: FR7615629026250002172700193   BIC: CMCIFR2A Bank: CCM Calais, 85 rue Mollien, 62100 Calais, France


Churches worldwide welcome treaty banning nuclear weapons

HIroshimaNuclear weapons have always been seen as deeply immoral. Now, after years of work, 122 governments out of 192 have adopted a treaty that makes them completely illegal. The 7 July decision at the United Nations bans the manufacture, possession and use of nuclear weapons and provides pathways for their eventual elimination. World Council of Churches’ members are among the many groups and governments working towards this new international law for the past six years and more.

On 6 July, European and US Catholic Bishops issued a joint statement in full support of the treaty, calling for the total elimination of nuclear weapons. They said: “the fact that most of the world’s nations are participating in this effort testifies to the urgency of their concern, an urgency intensified by the prospect of nuclear terrorism and proliferation, and to the inequality and dissatisfaction of non-nuclear states about the lack of progress in nuclear disarmament efforts.”

We look forward to similar statements from our UK bishops.

For more details see:


by Brother Johannes Maertens

The house offers emergency hospitality to young and vulnerable refugees in the Calais area and Justice and Peace have visited several times in the past (Ed). 

Next to accommodation we offer also on almost a daily base to young and vulnerable refugees a shower, a meal, tea, do their laundry and we offer them to spend some time in a house.  Through the offer of this basic help we can accompany more than 10 unaccompanied minors under 16 and many other young refugees.  As we are serving more people than ever before we are using more of our resources than planned.    

Donations and gifts are welcome     We can use:    For Personal use:  Shower gel, shampoo, toothbrushes, body cream or oil (like Vaseline, Nivea), Socks 36-43  Boxer shorts S/M  (No Large please), Sport shoes 39-40-41, Pocket nail cutter  (Also helpful: Power bank mobiles).   Clothes for young men are welcome, BUT PLEASE FOR NOW ONLY small size T-shirts and jeans!  WE HAVE ENOUGH TOWELS AND TOOTHPASTE thank you!   For the house:   Disinfectant,  All-purpose cleaner, Anti-scalant, Toilet cleaner, Washing powder or liquid (mostly color wash, Laundry Stain remover, Softener, Calgon, Washing-up liquid, Tablets and liquid for the dishwasher, Toilet paper.   Food:   Ground Coffee  and lots of MILK – the youngest ones really drink a lot of it. (J&P advise: Buy it at French supermarkets if you visit, or send money, as suggested below) Financial support is welcome!   Association Maria Skobtsova.  Here are the bank details:  IBAN: FR761562902625ms. 0002172700193   BIC: CMCIFR2A Bank: CCM Calais, 85 rue Mollien, 62100 Calais

NB  Justice and Peace will probably make a trip towards the end of August to take gifts as listed above.  Please get in touch if you wish to contribute items. Barbara Kentish

Protests at Sainsbury’s AGM in Support of Fairtrade

By Anne Lamont

OXFAM, CAFOD and members of the Justice and Peace Commission took part in an eye-catching stunt to protest at Sainsbury’s very recent abandoning of the ethical Fairtrade label in favour of its own ‘Fairly Traded’ products. The action took place in central London at Sainsbury’s AGM at the Queen Elizabeth Centre and delegates and shareholders were treated to the vision of protesters dressed as teabags requesting that they raise objections at this hastily orchestrated move on the part of Sainsbury’s senior executive body.   The new ‘Fairly Traded’ products which have astonishingly appeared on Sainsbury’s shelves just one month after they announced this move, suggesting the decision is one that has been planned for some time. Sainsbury’s have ignored appeals from African farmers to reconsider this move which they consider will diminish their power and control over their products and place them at a disadvantage.

A online petition has been launched and has won considerable support within a very short period of time from many supporters of Fairtrade outraged at the ‘colonial’ style move on the part of the supermarket (  The stunt received good coverage in the media including an excellent article in The Guardian ( ).


Congratulations to St John Fisher Parish Shepperton, for being Fairtrade Parish number 99 and to Newman House University Chaplaincy for being Fairtrade Parish number 100!! We now need only 8 more parishes to apply for certification as a Fairtrade Diocese. Thanks to Anne Lamont (J&P) and Frances Halliday (CAFOD) for beavering away on this. Keep up the Trade Justice efforts in spite of setbacks from SOME supermarkets!

Archbishop Romero, his people and Pope Francis – a new film

New film previews in London: ‘Archbishop Romero, his people and Pope Francis’

July 2nd, 2017

Q&A  after screening with director Gianni Beretta (centre)  Julian Filochowski  left,  Clare Dixon on right

Q&A after screening with director Gianni Beretta (centre) Julian Filochowski left, Clare Dixon on right

By: Ellen Teague

A quarter of a million people attended the beatification ceremony in El Salvador for Archbishop Oscar Romero on 23 May 2015. A huge crowd chanted songs and carried banners as a procession moved from the cathedral, where Archbishop Romero’s tomb lies in the crypt, to Salvador del Mundo (Saviour of the World) Square in the centre of San Salvador. Here the Vatican envoy Cardinal Angelo Amato presided over the beatification ceremony.

These were the opening images in a new film about Romero, subtitled ‘Archbishop Romero, his people and Pope Francis’, which had its first UK viewing in London on 1 July. It will probably be entitled ‘Making Amends’ in its English version, suggesting that Romero is finally being recognised as a martyr, after Pope Francis declared two years ago that he was killed “in hatred of the faith” and not, as some contended, for political reasons.

Beatification is the penultimate step before Archbishop Romero is, hopefully, declared a saint. He was shot dead by a marksman as he celebrated Mass in a hospital chapel in San Salvador on the evening of 24 March 1980. The film contained much new footage of Romero, particularly from the last three years of his life when he challenged the violence going on in El Salvador. He regularly visited poor communities and affirmed young people who were growing up amidst poverty and repression. The film showed spontaneous clapping as he walked among people, standing close to them and entering their homes. A real love between Romero and the Salvadorean people was evident. “The Church is trying to give them a little hope” he said.

His homilies in these years were a dynamic challenge to the military-backed government, especially since they were broadcast nationwide on the Church’s radio station. When the US-backed Salvadorean army used death squads and torture to silence leftist movements demanding change, he was not afraid to speak out in his weekly sermons. “The law of God which says thou shalt not kill must come before any human order to kill; it is high time you recovered your conscience,” he said in his last homily in 1980, calling upon the national guard and police to stop the violence. “I implore you, I beg you, I order you in the name of God: Stop the repression” he urged. That sermon, interpreted as calling for insubordination, cost him his life. A day later, while saying Mass, he was shot through the heart by a single bullet.

The film records those who knew him well, giving insight into his character. Monsignor Ricardo Urioste, who died last year, told us that that when Romero was chosen as archbishop he did not attend his swearing in. “I thought he was not a good choice for archbishop” he said “and that he was appointed to control the priests who were interested in Medellin”, a reference to the 1968 meeting of the Conference of Latin American Bishops which stated that the Church should make a “preferential option for the poor” and tackle “the institutionalised violence of poverty”. Theologian Jon Sobrino reported on the change evident in Romero just a month after his appointment, following the murder of his friend, the Jesuit priest Rutilio Grande, on 12 March 1977. “He was shocked at what was happening to poor people, catechists and priests” reported Fr Sobrino, “and was outraged at the bumper stickers put out by the military, ‘Be a patriot, kill a priest’”.

But Romero’s adversaries were not just in the military and the affluent families who controlled El Salvador. His focus on social justice, condemning the concentration of power and wealth in El Salvador, and speaking out against structural violence, attracted criticism from his fellow bishops who complained to Rome that he had Marxist leanings. Roberto Cuellar, a lawyer who was hired by Romero to run a free legal-assistance office in San Salvador, reported on Romero’s sadness when his fellow bishops mocked him and laughed in his face “like hyenas”, and he was so upset he asked Romero’s permission to leave the meeting. When Romero travelled to Rome in 1979, with copious documentation regarding victims of repression to show to Pope John Paul II, the latter told him, “you should not have come to Rome with so many documents”. In a difficult meeting, the pope expressed concern that the priests killed were linked to the guerrilla movement and that Romero was not making enough effort to get along with the Salvadorean government. Romero not only continued his challenge but wrote a letter to President Jimmy Carter begging the United States to stop sending weapons to the Salvadorean military government which were used to repress the people. Pope John Paul II clearly had a change of heart when he visited El Salvador in 1983 and 1996 and both times asked to visit Romero’s tomb and pray before it. Thereafter he gave his full support to Romero’s beatification. Unfortunately, many senior officials in the Curia did not.

Archbishop Romero comes across as a brave man of whom the Church can rightly be proud for his defence of the poor, and his call for justice and peace. Was he ever fearful that he too would die a violent death? The film contains an interview where he says: “I am mildly fearful, but not in a paralysing way that affects my work.” He was one of over 70,000 people who died during El Salvador’s Civil War, and a UN report records that approximately 85% of all killings of civilians were committed by the Salvadorean armed forces and death squads.

The film highlighted things that were new to me – for example, Romero consulted widely before delivering his explosive sermons, and he spent the final morning of his life on a trip to the beach with some of his priests and a packed lunch!

Several Latin American cardinals in the Vatican had blocked his beatification for years because they were concerned his death was prompted more by his politics than by his preaching. But with Pope Francis the process has been “unblocked”, as he himself put it.

Now that Romero is beatified the next stage is canonisation. However, he has been a saint by popular acclaim in Latin America ever since his killing. Roberto Cuellar told of walking down a street in San Salvador on the evening Romero died and finding a group of beggars who said, “they have killed the saint”. He reports that as being “the first time I heard him called a saint”. At his beatification Pope Francis said: “In this day of joy for El Salvador and also for other Latin American countries, we thank God for giving the martyr archbishop the ability to see and feel the suffering of his people”.

The film was introduced by Julian Filochowski, the chair of the Archbishop Romero Trust, who has lobbied tirelessly for the canonisation of Romero. He knew the archbishop and worked with him in the late 1970s. He was present at the beatification two years ago, just as he had been at his funeral in 1980 – where the military dropped smoke bombs on mourners leading to around 40 deaths. In the 1980s, during his visits to El Salvador as Director of CAFOD, he made a photographic record of the mutilated corpses left out on the streets of San Salvador daily by death squads. Julian is one of many who have long regarded Romero as an extraordinarily meaningful figure far beyond El Salvador, and an important witness from the Church to the world for the 21st century. When Bishop Gregorio Rosa Chavez was recently elevated to become El Salvador’s first cardinal, one of the first things he did was to say Mass at the tomb of Blessed Oscar Romero and say, “I dedicate this appointment to Archbishop Romero”.

Taking questions after Saturday’s preview from assembled Catholic journalists and friends of the Archbishop Romero Trust, filmmaker Gianni Beretta explained that the likely title, ‘Making Amends’ refers to the “moral reparation” of recognising Romero, nearly four decades after his death, as a champion of the common good, of the same standing as Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela. It was pointed out that the date of his killing – 24 March – is now the United Nations ‘Day for the Right to the Truth Concerning Gross Human Rights Violations and for the Dignity of Victims’. The day is explicitly linked to Archbishop Romero and could be described as a secular canonisation.
Look out for details of the film’s availability on the website of the Archbishop Romero Trust

As part of celebrating the centenary of Archbishop Romero’s birth in 1917, the Archbishop Romero Trust has organised a Centenary Pilgrimage to El Salvador in November. Places are still available: