By Rachel McCarthy, Theology Programme Communications Coordinator
The season of Lent is fast upon us. It is time to prepare for the traditional acts of giving, praying and fasting, as we journey with Jesus through 40 days and nights.
Lent is a season of reflection and renewal. A time of growing in faith and looking deeper at our lives to be re-centred on God and our neighbour. A time to deepen our prayer life and to grow in faith. A time of giving and sharing with our global family.
And then there is fasting. We might give something up such as chocolate, and we make a special effort on Fridays to abstain from the goods we usually take for granted. A few times I have fasted for 24 hours during Lent. Last year for example, I fasted in solidarity with people in the UK who are living on the breadline and are forced every week to go to food banks to feed their families.
I have to admit, for me, fasting is never easy. Although food poverty is an issue close to my heart, I found it very difficult to stay focused during these 24 hours. I found myself being more tired and irritable with others around me. I was tempted to winge, to draw attention to myself, in the hope that others would feel sorry for me.
But this is precisely the temptation which we must avoid. In the long hours of our fasting, we must wrestle with our demons, and stay focused on God. In a very real sense, fasting is the act of emptying ourselves, so that we can turn away from all that separates us from loving God. It’s a time of trial, when we rekindle patience and hope for the resurrection. Continue reading “Lent: a time for compassion”
By John Ashworth, adviser to the Sudan and South Sudan churches
South Sudan sank into civil war in December 2013, less than three years after gaining independence. This latest civil war is often described as a political power struggle which soon morphed into ethnic conflict.
However, it might be more accurate to say ‘revenge-driven’ rather than ‘ethnic’. The lack of a reconciliation process to address the hurts of earlier conflicts has only exacerbated the thirst for revenge. The peace talks led by the regional grouping IGAD in Ethiopia’s capital Addis are attempting to address the political component; but who will address the cycle of revenge?
‘People to People’ – bringing communities together
In the 1990s, during an earlier conflict which also exhibited ethnic revenge dynamics, the churches created an innovative People to People Peace Process which brought warring communities together again. Aid agencies such as CAFOD played a major role as partners in supporting the original People to People Peace process, working with and through the Church at the grassroots to build peace at a local level in communities. The lessons learnt from this process can contribute to resolving the current conflict.
These days the term ‘People to People’ seems to be bandied about by anyone who wants to raise funds for their own particular peace and reconciliation conference. However, People to People was not primarily about conferences; it was about months and indeed years of patient preparation, mobilisation, awareness-raising, consultation and trust-building on the ground before the high-profile conferences took place. Bringing a few chiefs and elders together for a highly-visible quick-fix conference is not ‘People to People’. Continue reading “Forging peace in South Sudan”
By Jesy Romero, Water Resources Coordinator for CAFOD’s Church partner CEAS
I have seen first-hand the marginalisation and exclusion of the poor communities we work with, who are constantly defending their lands. My Christian vocation compels me to speak the truth and nothing but the truth for the common good. This is why I travelled thousands of miles from my home in Peru to visit CAFOD supporters and campaigners in London last October for the launch of their campaign, One Climate, One World. I wanted to explain the impact climate change is having in Peru and the conflicts occurring because of water shortages, so that people will better understand the importance of caring for God’s creation.
Water shortages and flooding in Peru
Latin America is one of the regions most vulnerable to climate change, yet some people don’t know about the scarcity of water in Peru. My country has 70% of the world’s tropical glaciers, and in the region where I work I can see how they are melting at an alarming rate. The statistics are catastrophic; the Peruvian government says that by 2030, all the glaciers below 5,000 metres will have melted completely.