Climate change: We lobbied MPs, what now?

This is a guest blog from the Climate Coalition, CAFOD supporters joined people from development, environmental and community organisations from across the UK in the Climate Coalition’s Speak Up For The Love Of mass climate lobby of parliament on 17 June.

The UK can still lead on climate change – but we need to see positive action at home

On June 17th, thousands of people from around the country flocked to Westminster to meet their MPs. At over 430 meetings, our leaders were asked to support strong climate action to protect all the things we love that could be lost to climate change.

It was an inspiring day of action, and hundreds of MPs sat up and took notice of a powerful public voice calling for climate action. That evening, Energy Secretary Amber Rudd expressed support for the lobby, and her hope for an ambitious global deal at the UN climate talks in December. But in the wake of recent announcements, many will be asking where is this government’s credible low carbon plan essential for delivering the change we want to see in this country and for providing the credibility for international leadership.

Lancaster dioceses supporters at Speak Up For The Love Of
Lancaster dioceses supporters at Speak Up For The Love Of

Continue reading “Climate change: We lobbied MPs, what now?”

‘We are fighting together to save the planet’

Sunday, 9 August is International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. Our partner Davi Kopenawa Yanomami has dedicated his life to working to ensure that the rights, culture and land of Yanomami and Ye’kuana indigenous people are respected. In 2004, he founded our partner organisation Hutukara Yanomami Association, HAY. In September last year, Davi left his home in the Amazon to visit us here in the UK. He walked with CAFOD pilgrims in Hexham and Newcastle Diocese and met school children in Jarrow. He joined the march in London that launched our One Climate One World Campaign.

This is what Davi has to say about how we can work with his people to build a better future for us all.

Davi marching with CAFOD supporters at the Climate Coalition march in September
Davi marching with CAFOD supporters at the Climate Coalition march in September

“Hutukara means the World; the World where we live: you and us. Hutukara wants to protect, to preserve the Earth. We want to take care of the streams. Water is a priority. Everything that exists in the planet: the land, water, mountains, trees, the clean air, and we the indigenous people and you, we all live in this World. Hutukara’s role is to ensure that the land stays alive for our future and generations to come. Hutukara defends the people, the land, the forest, the rivers, the animals, clean air, health and education. We, the Yanomami people, are the guardians of the forest of our country.

Reflect on care for our common home with our Laudato Si’ study guide

Here [in the UK], people have understood. They are worried about the lungs of the planet. So they did something. The indigenous people did something, and the people from here did something. We are fighting together to save the planet. This is very good. It is the first time I have seen a demonstration for our planet. I really liked it. Continue reading “‘We are fighting together to save the planet’”

Win a professional energy audit for your parish!

Wayne Ward is Managing Director at CAFOD corporate partner B:SSEC. Here he reflects on their  partnership with CAFOD and an exciting new competition they have launched for parishes

B:SSEC staff on a hike to raise funds for green energy projects in Kenya
B:SSEC staff on a hike to raise funds for green energy projects in Kenya

When forming a new friendship, it’s always important to have things in common. Whether it is a love of cooking, cycling or bad television, it helps to unite you. And it is great when you find someone who appreciates it when you send them a funny cat video or who willingly agrees to go on that five-hour walk with you.

When the building sustainability and environmental consultancy b:ssec was looking to form a partnership with a charity, we followed a similar principle. At b:ssec, we provide expertise in planning, designing and operating low-carbon buildings. Alongside this, we also advise people on ways they can make energy efficiencies in existing buildings. We looked for an organisation that we share similar values with and who we thought would benefit from shared knowledge.

Win a free energy audit for your parish buildings from energy experts B:SSEC

We chose to partner with CAFOD, a development charity, because of our joint love for sustainable energy. This is energy which has been generated from natural sources such as water, wind and the sun. Being ‘sustainable’ means that it doesn’t harm the climate or local environment and that future generations can meet their energy needs. We both recognise the link between access to sustainable energy, protecting the environment and the promotion of human development. Continue reading “Win a professional energy audit for your parish!”

Hands On supporters: building an emotional bond

Daniel Collins works in CAFOD’s Fundraising team focussing on our Hands On initiative.

Stella and her family - Kitui, Kenya - CAFOD
Stella and her family who live in Kitui, Kenya

One of the most exciting parts of my job is working on Hands On – a scheme which enables you to support a specific community as they undertake an ambitious project that will change their lives. Our first project in Kitui, Kenya, started one year ago, and aims to bring water to the community by transforming the local landscape.

Read blogs from Kitui

One of the really interesting things about Hands On is that, because people’s donations go towards one specific project, and because we gather lots of information about the project to send out to Hands On supporters every month, it really creates a strong emotional bond between the Catholic community here in England and Wales and the community in Kitui. Something I have been very keen to do is to find ways for supporters to send their own messages of encouragement to Kitui.

Last Christmas everyone who had donated to Hands On was sent a card with a message from Kitui and a postcard where they could add their own personal Christmas message in response. The postcards were then sent on to Kenya where they were shared with members of the community and our local partners.

I was delighted by how many hundreds of people took up the opportunity, and was deeply touched by the messages people chose to send. I would like to share a few of these messages with you now. Continue reading “Hands On supporters: building an emotional bond”

My reflections of Rebuilding Justice, London

Caroline Grogan works in CAFOD’s Campaigns team. She recently met Fr Edu, a Goldman Environmental Prize winning activist who works for NASSA (Caritas Philippines).

I had never heard a priest and social and environmental activist speak before, so I was privileged to hear CAFOD partner Fr Edu at the Rebuilding Justice Event in London on Saturday. He was there to thank CAFOD supporters for their generous donations that helped people post-Typhoon Haiyan. He spoke about the widespread poverty across the country, where communities are made vulnerable to the effects of extreme weather and a changing climate.

Sign our climate change petition and ask David Cameron to take action to tackle climate change.

Fr Edu talks to CAFOD supporters at Romero House
Fr Edu talks to CAFOD supporters at Romero House

Accidental activist

Fr Edu became an environmental activist “by accident” when he stood up for the indigenous Mangyan community he was serving in Mindoro island. “Defending our land is a necessity,” he said, and standing in solidarity with people being forced off their land is imperative.

Fr Edu currently serves indigenous communities in a highland region of the Philippines. I was moved by his description of Filipino resilience as a  a strong force which was “enabled by our faith. He is excited by Pope Francis’ ground-breaking encyclical on which he says asks us to put our “faith into action”.

It was extremely inspiring to hear about how he is motivated by love for God’s creation. Fr Edu reminded us that the organisation he leads – Caritas Philippines – means love. Fr Edu expressed this love in these words, “We should never sacrifice people and the environment for short-term benefit of the few.” Continue reading “My reflections of Rebuilding Justice, London”

The significance of St Francis in the light of Laudato Si’

View from San Damiano church, Assisi
View from San Damiano church, Assisi

Megan Cornwell is CAFOD’s UK News Officer. She visited Assisi in May for her wedding anniversary and tells us what she learned about St. Francis, whose writings inspired the title of the encyclical Laudato Si’.

As you stare out over the lush, verdant Umbrian countryside that surrounds San Damiano church – the place where St Francis of Assisi wrote ‘The Canticle of the Sun’ – it’s easy to see why the man who inspired the Franciscan Order was so convinced of mankind’s inherent unity with nature. The view is spectacular and must have been even more breath-taking 800 years ago when Francis was convalescing at this little church.

In May I had the privilege of visiting Assisi in Umbria, the birthplace of St Francis. It’s a truly special place and San Damiano, in particular, is the jewel in the Umbrian crown.


Megan outside San Damiano church

Now that the papal encyclical, Laudato Si’, has been published, taking its title from St Francis’ canticle, no less, I’ve been reflecting on the significance and legacy of “the little poor man of Assisi”.

Download The Canticle of the Sun prayer

The significance of St Francis

St Francis is an inspiring character; born into a wealthy merchant family, he chose to reject comfort, pleasure and position by embracing an ascetic life that called for obedience to God and fellowship and solidarity with the poor. I think he is a great example for us today as we challenge ourselves to live out gospel values of peace, patience and self-control while living in wealthier countries that tell us we can have it all. Continue reading “The significance of St Francis in the light of Laudato Si’”

Who do you say I am?

This reflection and prayer, based on the gospel for Sunday 28 June, Matthew 16:13-19, were written by Matthew Sanderson, who is the Executive Assistant to the Director of CAFOD.

“Who do you say I am?”

Matthew Sanderson on a recent trip visiting CAFOD projects in El Salvador
Matthew Sanderson visiting CAFOD projects in El Salvador

What were your first thoughts of God? What did you imagine God to be? For me, God was a figure sat on a cloud with a beard, or someone who wagged his finger from on high. As I have grown up, so too has my answer to the question ‘Who do I say God is?’

For me, God is love. That is who I say God is.

Last week saw the publication of Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si’. Pope Francis is clear that God made us all out of love and to love.

Reflect on Pope Francis’ encyclical

We are reminded in the encyclical that “the entire material universe speaks of God’s love, his boundless affection for us” (Laudato Si’ section #84). I am reminded of this when I see the rolling countryside of the Yorkshire Dales.

What’s more, the special love of the Creator means each human being is “conceived in the heart of God” (#65). As children of God, we have an inherent dignity, not because of anything we have done, but out of God’s love for us.

We can reflect God’s love for us in our daily lives as “we were made for love” (#58). By remaining in God’s love, may we come to know the Lord more and more each day.

Lord, we give thanks for your love and the world around us. We pray that we continually realise that we were made for love. Amen.

Find prayers and sign up to receive our weekly reflection email

‘Thanks to CAFOD, I’m not missing out on the world.’

Orla, from London, recently spent a week volunteering at the CAFOD Romero House office. Find out why she thinks young people care about climate change, and who inspired her during her time with the CAFOD team.

Orla volunteering in CAFOD's Romero House office
Orla volunteering in CAFOD’s Romero House office

As an internet-savvy teenager, I have the sort of constant access, 24 hours a day, to the world via social media that my parents never even dreamt of. It’s all there, virtually, and for better or worse, at the touch of a button. News is readily available, telling me stories from half way across the world that I share while sitting on my sofa at home.

For my generation, therefore, the world seems like a smaller place than ever before. And that is reinforced by living and going to school in London. I am part of one of the most ethnically diverse communities anywhere on the globe. In my year group of 96 at my Catholic school, I am one of only four whose parents and grandparents were born and brought up in the UK. So I can learn about such a variety of different cultures by just talking to the person sitting next to me in class.

Speaking Up on 17 June

When looking around my class I know of many members of my friendship group who feel too swept up in the shallowness and unfulfilment that comes with social media. One of the integral parts of my Catholic school is to reach out and help others through charity work. Therefore I know of so many of my peers who seized the opportunity to take part in the Speak Up for the Love of… climate lobby on the 17 June.

Read about the lobby

CAFOD supporters of all ages at the Climate Coalition lobby
CAFOD supporters of all ages Speak Up at the Climate Coalition lobby of parliament

I believe that young people in our society often get the reputation of being uncaring delinquents. However, I speak for many my age when I stress that being a teenager in a world where suffering is so present, where the future of the planet we have to grow up in seems to be spiralling out of control, where the effects of climate change are already being seen, really terrifies us and leaves us feeling powerless.

Continue reading “‘Thanks to CAFOD, I’m not missing out on the world.’”

What does upcycling and New Balance trainers have to do with Laudato Si’? CAFOD designer Ivan fills us in

Pope Francis writes in in his encyclical Laudato Si’ that we should “aim for a new lifestyle”. He says we can easily get caught up in “a whirlwind of needless buying and spending” and “compulsive consumerism”, missing the beauty of creation. CAFOD’s Designer Ivan Nascimento has been making small changes to his lifestyle over the years and shares with us some top tips for reducing our own carbon footprint.

Over the years, and while working for CAFOD in particular, I have become increasingly aware of the impact I have on the earth and our brothers and sisters overseas. As a result, I’ve sought ways to reduce my carbon footprint and, instead of buying new products, I have explored repairing, fixing and up-cycling.

Ivan's New Balance trainers, before and after
Ivan’s trainers, before and after

What I have found as I’ve looked at the alternatives is a greater freedom to enjoy my belongings and less pressure to conform to society’s expectations of me. I wouldn’t claim to have all the answers, but I am convinced that where there is a will, there is a way and that small changes really do make a big difference.

Make do and mend 

When New Balance trainers came back into fashion earlier this year, instead of spending between £60 and £70 on a new pair, I dusted off my old trusty runners and gave them a revamp. Using a simple black dye I made them look good as new – and even got some compliments from friends and colleagues!

Continue reading “What does upcycling and New Balance trainers have to do with Laudato Si’? CAFOD designer Ivan fills us in”

Students from Blessed William Howard Speak Up For the Love Of

Students from Blessed William Howard Catholic High School travelled from Wolverhampton to London on the day of the Speak Up For The Love Of climate lobby to meet their MP. In this blog they reflect on their experience.

Students from Wolverhampton with their MP
Students from Wolverhampton with Jeremy Lefroy MP

On 17 June a group of nine of us from Blessed William Howard travelled to London. We had made a short video clip about climate change as part of the Close-up on Climate film project, and excitingly our video got chosen to be shown at the Speak Up For The Love Of rally at the end of the day.

After a long journey we went to the ecumenical service which was really lovely, as everyone joined in and became united in their belief of addressing climate change. We planned to meet our local MP, Jeremy Lefroy, in the houses of Parliament. We were talking to him for an hour and forty five minutes. What we learnt was very interesting. We asked him several questions, and some even caught him out.

Asking tricky questions

One question we asked was: “It is all about leading by example, so what are you doing to make the Houses of Parliament more green?” He didn’t give a straight answer. This proves that we all need to keep pressurising the government to do things locally to make a difference. Continue reading “Students from Blessed William Howard Speak Up For the Love Of”