Hannah Caldwell is CAFOD’s legacy officer and speaks with supporters who are thinking of including a gift to CAFOD in their will. She reflects on how Pope Francis encourages us to care for future generations.
When Pope Francis released his encyclical Laudato Si’, On Care for our Common Home, lots of people at CAFOD were excited. The Pope’s discussion of issues that deeply effect the communities we work with – climate change, human rights, housing, clean water, a fair share of resources – were being put on the centre stage in this document that was addressed not only to the faithful but to the whole world.
But I have to admit, whilst I knew it was important to CAFOD’s work with partners and communities, I wasn’t sure it was relevant to my role as CAFOD’s legacy officer. I was pleased for my colleagues and, as a Catholic, I was interested in what the Pope had to say and how it might encourage me to make changes in my own life, but I didn’t assume there’d be a connection with my work.
But the more I engaged with Laudato Si’, personally and through CAFOD workshops, it dawned on me that at its core is a message that deeply resonates with what I hear in the legacy team.
Everything is interconnected
Laudato Si’ reminds us that we are all connected, dependant on each other and the earth that sustains us. It’s a destructive myth that we are self-sufficient. Rather, we are “one single human family” with a common home and we have a responsibility to care for each other and protect creation.
At the heart of this is caring for the poorest and most vulnerable. It can be easy for us who are privileged to turn a blind eye, but Laudato Si’ insists we must live up to our responsibility of loving those in need. Of course, this is something we are called to do throughout our lives, but a legacy gift is a powerful testimony to the things we care about most.
A legacy is like a link in a chain, connecting us in a special way to our global family. “Our precious children and grandchildren and the comforts they have are a constant reminder to us of the gifts we have received,” CAFOD supporters Chris and Imelda told me. “We hope our gift to CAFOD will go some way to make life better for members of our larger family in Christ.”
Shaping a better future for everyone
Laudato Si’ encourages us to look outside ourselves to the people and the earth around us, not only now but in the future as well. Pope Francis calls for “justice between the generations”, challenging us not just to think about our own wants and needs but also those of future generations.
In the Book of Genesis, God makes a covenant with all people and every living creature “for all generations to come”. We are all part of this covenant and once we start to think about our roles in this way we start to see the world differently: “Intergenerational solidarity is not optional, but rather a basic question of justice,” the Pope explains, “since the world we have received also belongs to those who will follow us.”
Linda from Salford diocese explains: “I’ve included a gift to CAFOD in my will simply because I want children around the world to have a better future. My legacy will help CAFOD’s work carry on even after I’m gone and continue to help people have better lives.”
A legacy gift is a gift of “intergenerational solidarity”, showing care for those who will come after us and helping ensure that the world will be one in which they can flourish.
Watch our short film to see how gifts in wills are helping young people flourish
A gift of faith, hope and love
Laudato Si’ recognises that we face many complex challenges, but they are always seen through the lens of faith, hope and love. It is in faith that we know things must be better; it is in hope that we work towards this; and it is through love that we can achieve this.
A legacy is not only a gift of money. It is also a gift of faith, hope and love; a way of sharing our deeply held values with future generations. By definition, none of us will get to see our legacy gift in action. It’s a gift driven by faith, hoping to bring about change, and sharing our love with those who desperately need it.
“I believe in Gospel values and that is the world I want to leave behind me,” supporter Lotte told us. “Remembering CAFOD in my will is a small step towards the Kingdom of God here on earth.”
Pope Francis tells us: “We must not think that [our] efforts are not going to change the world”. This is an inspiring, hopeful message, despite the challenges we face. “Love,” he insists, “always proves more powerful.”
We can all leave a legacy of love.