Oscar Romero: Clare Dixon’s reflections on his beatification

Brothers, you are killing your fellow countrymen. No soldier has to obey an order to kill. In the name of God and in the name of the suffering people I implore you, I beg you, I order you, stop the repression!”

Clare and Ben at the tomb
Clare and Ben from CAFOD at Oscar Romero’s tomb

On 23 March 1980, Archbishop Oscar Romero called on the army in El Salvador to disobey their government and lay down their weapons. He must have suspected that by doing so he was signing his own death warrant.

About the author: Clare Dixon is Head of CAFOD’s Latin America Department and a trustee of the Romero Trust. She reflects on Archbishop Oscar Romero’s beatification today.

The next evening, Romero was celebrating a memorial Mass in San Salvador. The church doors were open and he probably noticed the car drawing up outside. An armed man climbed out, took aim and fired directly at his heart. Romero died instantly, becoming the third bishop in history to be killed in his Church, after Stanislaus of Poland and Thomas Becket.

Today’s ceremony for Romero’s beatification – declaring him “Blessed” in the eyes of the Catholic Church – will see crowds of up to half a million people gather in San Salvador, alongside at least nine Presidents and Church leaders from around the world. This recognition of Romero as a towering figure in Latin America, martyred “in odium fidei” – out of hatred for the faith – is a clear vindication of one of the great figures of the 20th Century, the moral equivalent of Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela or Mahatma Gandhi.

Read our answers to your questions about Oscar Romero

Voice of the voiceless

In his three years at the head of the Church in El Salvador, where the military-dominated regime was propped up by the United States to combat a supposed communist threat, Archbishop Romero became the voice of the voiceless. He defended the poorer sectors of society against the violence of paramilitary death squads. His human rights office made daily rounds of the rubbish dumps in San Salvador searching for the bodies of people who’d been murdered, and they kept detailed records of the massacres carried out all around the country Continue reading “Oscar Romero: Clare Dixon’s reflections on his beatification”

Lent 2015: half way reflections on our Lent challenges

Ffion baking
Ffion starting her Lent baking challenge

Having passed the half way point in Lent 2015 earlier this week, our Web Editor Ffion Dean updates us on how she and other CAFOD staff are coping with their Lent challenges.

When I realised we were only half way through Lent my heart sank a little. It feels like ages since the beginning of Lent. Does that mean it will feel like a long time until Easter for me and my colleagues who have taken on Lent challenges? I’ve heard office rumours of a few Lent set-backs but everyone is putting a lot of time, thought and effort into their challenges.

Watch our first Lenten journey video to find out what some CAFOD staff have been cutting out and doubling up this Lent:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f4yBjrQCjxs&w=560&h=315]

Burned cakes and new inventions

I’ve been doubling my baking to raise money for the CAFOD Lent Appeal. I was a bit nervous and pressed for time in my first week so I made something simple – a Lemon Drizzle Cake. It came out well and all twelve slices were sold for a pound each by mid-afternoon the following day. Continue reading “Lent 2015: half way reflections on our Lent challenges”

My life in Aleppo – A mother’s story

Mariana works for a CAFOD partner in Syria, providing life-saving food and emergency supplies to people who continue to be torn apart by the four year conflict. Read her story.

Fear and worry are my constant companions, never leaving my side when I’m at home or when I go to work. This is because of the continuous deadly shelling. You never get use to that sound, its power and then the haunting silence afterwards, followed by the cries of the injured.

CAFOD Syrian mother
Mariana

About the author: Mariana works for a CAFOD partner in Syria, providing life-saving food and emergency supplies to people who continue to be torn apart by the four year conflict.

Two years ago I was sitting on our balcony with my daughter, singing many songs, when suddenly we were rocked by a powerful explosion. We froze. I watched my daughter’s face grow paler and paler, and then we heard the screams of a woman. The shell had landed on the pushchair of her two-year-old daughter, and her husband’s leg had been blown off.

So when I go to work, I ask myself, “Will I reach my job safely today?”

I’m 37 years old. I married in 2010 in Aleppo, and have three children, two daughters and a baby son. In 2012 my husband lost his job – the factory where he was working was destroyed in the fighting. So now I am the breadwinner for my family, employed as an aid worker, with one of CAFOD’s partners in Syria.

Please keep supporting CAFOD’s long-term work and sign up to our direct debit for our Lent appeal. Your first three months will be matched by the UK government.
Continue reading “My life in Aleppo – A mother’s story”

Syrian crisis fourth anniversary: meet two families who fled to Lebanon

15 March sees the Syria crisis enter its fourth year. As the crisis continues to deepen, and the human suffering is greater than ever before, we would like to introduce you to two families who have been affected by the conflict in Syria. With money raised by CAFOD supporters across England and Wales our partner, Caritas Lebanon, is able to support Syrian refugees fleeing the conflict to Lebanon, with vital food, health and education services. 

As part of the #WithSyria campaign CAFOD is calling for world leaders to find a political agreement to end the conflict.

Sign the #WithSyria petition today

Abir and Tony

Abir, Tony and their triplets
Abir, Tony and their triplets

Abir and Tony are Syrian refugees who  fled to Lebanon in 2011, when the conflict intensified in their country.  Thirteen months ago they had they had triplets that were born ten weeks premature. With support from CAFOD partner Caritas Lebanon and from the UN Refugee Agency – UNHCR the babies received the vital hospital care they needed, and today all three children are healthy.  Continue reading “Syrian crisis fourth anniversary: meet two families who fled to Lebanon”

CAFOD and Mike Wooldridge OBE inspire young journalists at Leeds Trinity University Journalism Week

Luke with Mike Wooldridge
St Mary’s Menston sixth former Luke meets BBC World Affairs Correspondent Mike Wooldridge OBE

BBC World Affairs Correspondent Mike Wooldridge OBE joined CAFOD on the podium at Leeds Trinity University this month to mark the university’s annual Journalism week. St Mary’s Menston sixth form student Luke attended the talk and reports his findings below.

It was an afternoon of absorbing tales from the world of journalism, as BBC World Affairs Correspondent Mike Wooldridge OBE teamed up with CAFOD to inspire the journalists of the future.

The galvanizing event was just one of a variety of guest speakers and workshops as part of Leeds Trinity University’s Journalism Week.

Get involved with CAFOD

After an introduction from the CAFOD team based in Leeds, Mr Wooldridge wasted no time in immersing the audience in his stories from a career any journalist would dream of. From the release of Nelson Mandela in 1990, to the Haitian earthquake in 2010, the audience was captivated by anecdotes from a working life which Mr Wooldridge describe as “like having a ringside seat at history in the making.”

If any budding journalists present were having second thoughts about their degree, just one hour in this lecture theatre would be enough to set their ship back on course. It made for powerful listening. Continue reading “CAFOD and Mike Wooldridge OBE inspire young journalists at Leeds Trinity University Journalism Week”

Lent 2015: Ann faces the challenge of a 5.30 alarm with no snooze button

Ann Hayes works in CAFOD’s Clifton Office. This Lent, she has challenged herself to cut out using the snooze button on her alarm clock.

Ann Snooze
Ann will be cutting out using her snooze button this Lent

The first two weeks of my Lenten challenge had been going surprisingly well, I was feeling pretty pleased with myself. But the real test was looming on the horizon: would I be able to get up at 5.30 to make it to Flame 2?

For Lent, I have chosen to give up pressing snooze on my alarm. This is a pretty big challenge for me as I am a serial snoozer, often snoozing for 45 minutes before dragging myself out of bed and running around the house to get ready on time! I had plenty of tips from family and friends on how to make sure I got up in the morning, from sleeping with the curtains open, to drinking a pint of water as soon as I wake up, but actually apart from feeling pretty awful for the first few days, willpower has really been helping me get through.

And what a joy it is to get up earlier in the morning! It gives me time to get a sensible breakfast, chat to my housemates, and relax whilst getting ready for work. I’m lucky to be able to take a few quiet moments eating my breakfast and looking out into our beautiful garden, and even in these few weeks it’s been great to see Spring arriving. I’ve also taken the opportunity to pray every morning, thanking God for my day, and reflecting with the CAFOD Lent Calendar.

Continue reading “Lent 2015: Ann faces the challenge of a 5.30 alarm with no snooze button”

Election 2015: questions to ask your candidates

Dom Goggins
Dom Goggins from CAFOD’s Government Relations team

Dom Goggins works in the Government Relations team at CAFOD. He looks back at political progress made on climate change and looks forward to a busy general election period.

With so much at stake in the next few months – a general election focusing on vital issues around the economy, the NHS and the UK’s role in Europe among other things – climate change can sometimes feel like a distant challenge – something we can put to one side for now and deal with in the future.

That might even be the case for many of us in the UK, but climate change already has a devastating impact on many of the poor communities we work with around the world; amplifying existing social, political and economic inequalities and pushing people over the edge. Ultimately, as the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has said, “if we don’t confront climate change we won’t end poverty”.

Find out about CAFOD’s One Climate, One World campaign

2014 Progress

Important progress was made in 2014. CAFOD’s MP Correspondents* played a key part by asking the Prime Minister to show his commitment to climate change by attending a special UN summit hosted by the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon – and he did! At the summit he echoed CAFOD’s call that the UK should “help those who need it, particularly the poorest and most vulnerable”. Continue reading “Election 2015: questions to ask your candidates”

Cutting out petrol for Lent: Father David’s electric car challenge for CAFOD

Father David with a Nissan Leaf
Father David will by driving an electric Nissan Leaf during Lent 2015

Father David Osbourne is the Parish priest of Cranleigh and Bramley. This Lent he’s cutting out petrol and will be donating all of the money saved to the CAFOD Lent Appeal. The help complete his petrol-free Lent challenge, Crawley Nissan have allowed him to borrow a new Nissan Leaf car.

For me, this Lent, ‘Cut it Out!’ means trying to cut out some use of fossil fuels used in motoring and thus call attention to alternative power sources and uses. This may highlight our almost total dependence on fossil fuels which are not only irreplaceable but are contributing to the largest contemporary threat to civilization – global warming.

Find ideas for how you can reduce your carbon footprint this Lent

I have been loaned an electric car by Nissan to experience whether battery powered vehicles are an alternative not only for the “keenies” but a viable alternative for mass transport.

I’m not sure that’s possible either!

Continue reading “Cutting out petrol for Lent: Father David’s electric car challenge for CAFOD”

Visiting the tomb of Archbishop Oscar Romero

In early February, Clare Dixon, Ben White and Kathleen O’Brien travelled to San Salvador. Here’s a glimpse of their visit to Romero’s tomb on the day it was announced that the Vatican had declared this ex-CAFOD partner a martyr.

Clare and Ben at the tomb
Clare and Ben at the tomb
Around midday, we drive down to the Cathedral, which lies on the Avenida Monseñor Oscar Romero. Street names matter in San Salvador. At the moment there is a fierce argument raging between the current Mayor, Norman Quijano, who wishes to change the name of the road ‘San Antonio Abad’ to ‘Robert D’Abuisson’ after the man who ordered Romero’s death and founded the ARENA political party. We drive along this road and see graffiti saying “Ni calles ni caminos con nombres de asesinos” (Neither streets nor roads with names of assassins).

About the author: In early February, Clare Dixon, Ben White and Kathleen O’Brien travelled to San Salvador. Here’s a glimpse of their visit to Romero’s tomb on the day it was announced that the Vatican had declared this ex-CAFOD partner a martyr.

Support CAFOD’s work by making a donation today.

Continue reading “Visiting the tomb of Archbishop Oscar Romero”

Step into the Gap – Saying goodbye to Nicaragua

It’s the end of the visit of CAFOD’s Step into the Gap volunteers to Nicaragua. Here are the thoughts of Kate and Steph as they prepare to return to the UK:

Kate

Kate
Kate

We have seen and experienced Nicaragua in so many ways these past few weeks, and to put it into words is a daunting task.

My reasons for joining CAFOD’s Step into the Gap programme at the beginning of the year were: I have been a long term supporter of CAFOD’s work, I have helped in fundraising, been a Young Leader helping out at events such as Flame and done work experience at Romero House. So it really seemed like a natural progression to spend a year out of education expanding my knowledge of CAFOD and learning more about their work in the developing world before heading off to university to study International Development. But over the past 6 months, this year has become less about myself and more about those around me. I am extremely fortunate to spend a year with nine of the most hardworking, dedicated and passionate people that I have ever met. They have truly changed my life in more ways than one and I have been lucky enough to go to Nicaragua with three of them. I can honestly say I have made friends for life. Continue reading “Step into the Gap – Saying goodbye to Nicaragua”