Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si’ has inspired and challenged CAFOD in the way we work. Susy Brouard, from CAFOD’s theology team, and Gisele Henriques, from our international programmes team, reflect on how.
In June 2015 Pope Francis issued the encyclical Laudato Si’. The sub-title was “on care for our common home”. The letter was addressed not just to Catholics, and not just to people of faith. It was addressed to every citizen on the planet.
Pope Francis recognises that we have a common problem – environmental and social degradation. This problem will require a common solution so everyone is invited to be involved! As the Pope stated: “I urgently appeal, then, for a new dialogue about how we are shaping the future of our planet.” (# 14)
As a Catholic development agency CAFOD took the Pope’s invitation to dialogue very seriously. We felt we were in a good position to contribute constructively to the conversation. At the same time, we also saw that Laudato Si’ contained within it many challenges about the way we live and work. This included our approach to international development. We realised that we might be required to change some of the ways we think and work.
Dadirai Chikwengo is CAFOD’s Governance Advisor supporting work across Africa, Asia and Latin America. She is currently in Zimbabwe ahead of the first elections since former President, Robert Mugabe – who had been leading the country for over 30 years – stepped down.
In the last five days, I have been taken back to my childhood days. The days when I was a little girl in Gweru. The euphoria and the excitement in the country have taken me back decades to 1980 when Mugabe came into power. It is winter in Zimbabwe. Not that our winters are grey and wet as some place in the North where I now live. Here most of the vegetation looks brown like fields of wheat ready for harvest. But this winter, the colours on the brown barks of the trees have been unusual. From green, yellow, red, blue, you mention it!
In case you think I am out of my mind – surely who has seen a blue tree? I am not. These are all the colours of posters tied up or pasted on the trees. The colours of posters that are lining the streets or on walls whenever you go. Posters of political parties, the Church or the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission about this election. I meet people in the streets who are fearlessly open about their candidate of choice. Clad in the colours of their party every time they see someone in the same colours they acknowledge them and loudly say out the slogan ED Pfee (ED enters) or Chamisa chete chete (Chamisa the only one).
Anne works in our fundraising team. Every year she looks forward to combining her two passions of fundraising and baking at the Great CAFOD Bake Off.
When I was growing up I knew that my parish’s annual pilgrimage to Lourdes was soon approaching. Not because of any announcements at my church, but due to the activity in my family kitchen.
My busy mum did not have the time to volunteer on these pilgrimages, which travelled overland from Edinburgh to Lourdes. She did, however, offer her wonderful talent to it, through baking. In the days leading up to the pilgrimage I would come home from school, or wake up to the smell of baking, which filled our house. The kitchen surfaces were covered in baked treats, including family favourites of tea loafs, empire biscuits and fairy cakes.
Harry and Meghan have been busy in the past few months planning their wedding – and so has Therese! She’s been enjoying some of the slightly different ways that weddings can be celebrated. If you’re planning your wedding, why not see if you can encompass some of these ideas.
Who doesn’t love a wedding?
Full of love, happiness, cheesy music and people dressed in their best. It’s a fantastic day of bringing families and friends together to have a great celebration.
My boyfriend Joe proposed to me last Valentines day and we were amazed with all the messages of love we received. We have (well, really, I have) been keeping a keen eye on the build up to the latest Royal Wedding. I have particularly been paying attention to some little breaks in tradition, like asking guests to donate to their chosen charities rather than gifts. If I were a guest at Harry and Meghan’s wedding I would be rather relieved by this request, I can’t even begin to imagine what you would buy a Prince and future Princess!
Becca Haile is our Bangladesh Programme Officer. She tells us about the negative impact of chemicals in farming and the importance of moving towards more sustainable solutions.
Soil is, quite simply, the life blood of our Earth. It sustains our food production and provides a habitat for millions of living organisms. It can even help regulate our climate. But I’d never truly understood just how important soil is to the well-being of our planet before I visited Bangladesh and spoke to farmers whose lives had been directly impacted by changes to their soil.
In 2017 I met 38-year-old Jamal Hossain. He is a small-scale farmer, father and husband from Jessore in South West Bangladesh. Jamal described to me how just four years earlier he had to stop farming completely. Years of applying excessive amounts of chemical fertilisers and pesticides to his soil had left him in poor health and unable to continue working on his land. Jamal had also noticed that the quality of his soil had worsened over the years and his produce had suffered.
To make ends meet he took up work as a day labourer. He transported stone and concrete to construction sites. “It was hard work and physically draining. I so wanted to start working on my land again but I was too worried about my health,” Jamal told me.
Amy is a blogger that took up the challenge of giving up ‘Bad words’ over the Lent period, to help spread the word about our Lent appeal. Just after Easter, she told us how the challenge had humbled her and helped bring her closer to God.
The end of Lent has come and gone and it is time to reflect on what the last 40 days have truly been about. This journey started for me because I felt like God was telling me that there was an area of my life that I needed to submit to Him. He needed to refine it. A verse that had a powerful impact on me was Luke 6 v 45. It had never occurred to me that bad language could reflect a poor state of your heart. It pained me to know that my heart might not be as it should be.
I can honestly say God has drawn me closer through this journey of Lent. Even during the moments when I have struggled with the challenge I have felt closer to Him. What surprised me about the struggles of this challenge is that when they came along they appeared like the serpent with the apple. They were covered in the ripe red skin of a juicy apple and I took a bite without hesitation. This lack of hesitation came from my own pride and sinfulness.
As we approach Pentecost, we pray that the Holy Spirit may work through us as we seek to transform the world. Prayers for Pentecost
The week before last Pope Francis issued his fifth major document since beginning his papacy. It is largely a sustained meditation on the Beatitudes and how they can be lived out here and now. It is called Gaudete et Exsultate (Rejoice and be glad); and its subtitle is A call to holiness in today’s world. So what, according to Francis, does it mean to be holy? Susy, from our Theology team, highlights some key points.
According to Francis, if you are by nature timid, morose, acerbic or melancholy, prone to put on a dreary face or swoon in a mystic rapture then you are heading in the wrong direction! Here are four ways of being holy that Francis advocates. I think they will be particularly pertinent to you as a CAFOD supporter:
1. Live out your faith in a practical way
Pope Francis always stresses that we must live out our faith in a practical way (#109). This means, that in our lives and in our work, we are urged to labour “with integrity and skill in the service” of our brothers and sisters (#14).
Georgia, a student at De Montfort University in Leicester, has been on a digital detox for Lent, giving up all forms of social media. She told us how she’s got on with her Give It Up Challenge.
At the time of writing this blog I am 33 days into not using Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and Twitter. I can’t believe I have come this far- the end is near.
This Lenten challenge has definitely been one of the toughest ones that I have decided to take on. I have found that the most difficult part of the challenge so far is feeling disconnected. The dreaded ‘fear of missing out’ (FOMO) has always been in the back of my mind. I’ve found that I’ve missed Facebook the most- practically anyway. It is hard having to rely on people to relay information you need whether that be for events or notifications from my sports team. I wouldn’t say its my favourite social media app- but the most useful for my everyday life.
The reaction I have had to this challenge has been “are you crazy?”, “what do you do on your phone then?”. I have to admit these were my first thoughts when I began contemplating the idea. I think the most unexpected thing however is that I don’t miss it anywhere near as much as I thought I would. It has just caused minor inconveniences. I definitely haven’t felt like I have been missing out on anything socially like I did before with seeing people’s snapchat and Instagram stories. Because if its not there to see there is no FOMO. This realization has definitely emphasized how people’s online persona is so different from their reality.
Blogger Amy has taken up the challenge of giving up ‘Bad words’ this Lent. She tells us how she is getting on and what this challenge is teaching her.
I have now done just over four weeks of my Lent challenge and I have been surprised and amazed each day by my journey so far. I am so humbled by how God has met me in this time. Each week I have learned something new and been pointed in a new direction. Even in the difficult moments it has still been a joy to experience. I love the fact that God is graciously taking the time to change me. Change is hard and discipline is even harder. However, I truly think that when God disciplines us this is an expression of love and affection.