Migrant puppet Little Amal welcomed into Westminster Cathedral


About 1,000 people joined the Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, in welcoming Little Amal, the 3.5-meter-tall puppet of an unaccompanied 10-year-old Syrian refugee child, at Westminster Cathedral .

The puppet was greeted at the cathedral by Cardinal Nichols with the Zimbabwe Chaplain Choir. She was introduced by the Congolese chaplain choir to enthusiastic applause from the congregation.

The cardinal led a welcoming liturgy in solidarity with all those seeking refuge in the UK.

Caritas Westminster described the event as involving all ages and nations and “moving, powerful and joyful”. Words of welcome, inclusion and prayers for justice for refugees were shared by the children in words, songs and music. The charities of Saint-Vincent-de-Paul, Westminster Justice and Peace and the refugee friends and staff of the Jesuit Refugee Service were among those present at the service.

Little Amal has already visited Pope Francis in Rome and was welcomed at Saint Paul’s Cathedral in London on October 23, to a large group of London children singing See yourself as a member of the family of Olivier.

In his homily, Cardinal Nichols noted that Amal is tall and is easily visible, but many refugees are invisible among us:, climate change. “

He drew attention to the many unaccompanied refugee children in this country who are enslaved and exploited while separated from their parents.

“We must not overlook, ignore or reject refugees,” he said. “It is good, just and Christian to welcome the stranger into our midst.”

Addressing Amal, he said: “Many of you must have come from overseas to this cathedral and have been well received. They settled here and made the Church richer.

Just as Amal brings us joy, he said, “we must help migrants and refugees develop their talents and enable them to bring joy to the Church and to society.”

Amal’s journey through the cathedral took her to Saint Paul’s Chapel to view the mosaics of the perilous journeys the apostle made on his journeys around the Mediterranean proclaiming the gospel.

Little Amal’s 5,000 mile journey symbolizes millions of displaced children. He has been described as “a beautifully completed project bringing the reality of refugee travel to local communities ”. The puppet has traveled much of Europe after leaving the Turkish-Syrian border in July and will end its trip in Manchester. The name Amal in Arabic means hope.

Little Amal has traveled more than 8,000 km, stopping in 65 towns, starting in the town of Gaziantep on the Syrian-Turkish border and due to end in Manchester on November 3.

Little Amal’s Journey, created by the Handspring Puppet Company, known for Battle horse, is a Good Chance theatrical project entitled The walk intended to sensitize displaced children who have had to flee war and persecution. The theater company has already created the famous show The jungle, which was a performance on the Calais Jungle.

Little Amal is intended to represent refugee and displaced children with the project’s message: “Don’t forget us.

Elsewhere in the UK the puppet will be hosted in Coventry, Birmingham, Sheffield Barnsley and Manchester, all events are open to the public and a full list of the program can be found here.

The puppet’s journey to the UK concludes an adventure that saw her visit St Paul’s birthplace in Tarsus, Turkey, visit Athens and the port of Piraeus, be greeted at the Vatican in Rome and travel through Europe to Paris.

Although all events are completely free, the Good Chance Theater requests donations from the Amal Fund which is used for refugee education.

Addressing the crowd in St. Peter’s Square, Cardinal Michael Czerny, Undersecretary of the Vatican’s Migrants and Refugees Section said: “Amal is tall and beautiful. Meeting her is a pleasure, but she reminds us that meeting vulnerable asylum seekers and migrants among us requires more than just looking.

Meanwhile, a rally of refugees outside parliament last week saw widespread involvement from Christian groups as refugee rights activists stepped up efforts to defeat the government’s nationality and borders bill. . Over 800 people attended chanting, “Say it loud, say it clearly, refugees are welcome here. They included representatives from the Jesuit Refugee Service, Caritas Westminster, Justice and Peace Westminster, Seeking Sanctuary and Care4Calais alongside missionary groups, such as the Daughters of Charity.

Last week’s rally took place as MPs considered the bill through the commission stages of the bill before it returned to the House of Commons for third reading. The protest was part of a week of action against new legislation that critics say will criminalize asylum seekers arriving in Britain via irregular routes and give border forces the power to do so. turn the small boats in the English Channel. MPs, lawyers and activists strongly condemned the legislation, with the UN refugee agency warning that it would violate international law. The rally, organized by groups including the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants and Refugee Action, called on MPs to drop the bill. Some MPs and Lords joined the protest along with celebrities such as actress Juliet Stevenson.

Simultaneous rallies also took place across the country. In Birmingham, school children created works of art for refugees to welcome them to Birmingham. Students from Abbey Catholic Primary, Holy Cross Catholic Primary and St Dunstan’s Catholic presented poems and orange hearts at an event at Birmingham Central Library.

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