Church to challenge racism and hate

The Church of England’s national assembly, the General Synod, has backed a call for the Church of England to speak out against racism and hate crime directed against Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities.

Janie Codona, an ACERT EC member, spoke of discrimination she had first experienced aged only five years old. 

“We have experienced discrimination within the Gypsy and Traveller community every day and we have got so we don’t even seem to notice it half the time,” .

“We don’t judge, we don’t demand apologies, we don’t say ‘oh don’t treat us that way’ because we think’ what is the good it is only going to happen again the next day.’

“But as time went on I realised that if we didn’t stand up as a community and we didn’t start saying enough is enough it would never end.”

Janie Codona

In the motion passed by 265 – 1, the General Synod voted to request every Church of England diocese appoints a chaplain to Gypsies, Travellers and Roma communities. The motion also asks for the Church of England’s Mission and Public Affairs Council to evaluate the provision of sites for Gypsies and Travellers in wider housing policy and recommends Church bodies raise the need for this land.

The Bishop of Chelmsford, Stephen Cottrell, moving a motion before the General Synod, spoke of the ‘evil’ of all forms of racism – and how racism and prejudice against Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities was still ‘tragically’ tolerated.

“If one of us in any other situation today or later was to use racist language about some other person or group it is very likely in today’s society that we would and rightly so be immediately called out but tragically, perversely, racism against Traveller and Roma and Gypsies is still tolerated.”

“This motion may be modest in its scope but it signals a change of heart and a new direction in our determination to combat racism in all its manifestations and to be clear that all people are made in the image of God, and that Gypsy, Traveller and Roma people deserve particular support” .

Stephen Cottrell, Bishop of Chelmsford