Youth leaders: The People’s Climate March

Leah Fox is a volunteer at Youth Ministry Team in the Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle. Here she reflects on her first experience of campaigning with CAFOD. In March Leah will be continuing her journey with CAFOD’s campaigning in a visit to Parliament with other youth leaders from across the country.

At the end of November I was asked to go and join CAFOD at the People’s Climate March in London. This was a peaceful demonstration to voice the opinion to world leaders that they need to act against climate change, just before they met in Paris to make some very important decisions. Climate change affects so many people across the world, but especially those living in poverty, so I was very excited to be joining others to help encourage world leaders to recognise and act on this issue.

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Leah (left) campaigning with other youth leaders at the climate march.

Get crafty and make, wear and share a green heart this Valentine’s Day

When I was asked to go, I wasn’t really sure what to expect. I had never been on any sort of march so I naively thought that there might be a few hundred people marching through London, interrupting people’s busy lives. So I was very surprised to join over 50,000 people walking from Hyde Park to Whitehall!

When we first arrived at the meeting point for the entire march we made our way to the section which had people from different faith groups marching together, towards the front. CAFOD was one of many faith-based charities that were marching. There were more people there already than I could ever have imagined. Soon we all had a CAFOD placard and a few others and myself drew green hearts on our faces to represent CAFOD. The energy from the march was amazing, with cheering, music and people talking over speakers. Politicians from every major political party spoke before the march to show what their party would do to prevent climate change.

Find out more about climate change 

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The climate march took place ahead of the Paris COP where world leaders met to discuss climate change

Throughout the march we saw people from different charities marching on behalf of different reasons (some were even dressed as polar bears or bumble bees!) but despite the many reasons for people being there, it felt amazing to be united with so many people, marching for one outcome – to stop climate change. I got to talk to many people from CAFOD and other charities over the course of the march and talk about my faith and the amazing things we can do to help raise awareness of climate change and how it’s affecting communities across the world.

At the end of the day, we were all very tired from walking, but left the walk feeling very happy and fulfilled knowing that we had helped raise awareness to people that climate change is a problem and needs to be stopped.

Join our campaign, One Climate, One World to protect our common home. 

Climate change campaign: Thank you

Sarah Hagger-Holt works in CAFOD’s campaigns team on the One Climate, One World campaign.

CAFOD campaigners at Paris climate talksLast month, I was part of something very special, a moment in history.

I was in Paris, joining hands with campaigners underneath the Eiffel Tower and praying outside the conference centre where a global climate deal was finally agreed.

At CAFOD, we know that faith groups, including Catholic campaigners, have a huge influence on politicians – including those from the 196 countries who agreed a deal to tackle climate change in December. Their dedication and tenacity often inspires and moves me.

It’s not often what they have done is publically acknowledged. But now it has been.

This letter from Christiana Figueres, who heads up the UN’s work on climate change, is addressed to you, and to everybody who took part in this campaign.

Read it, share it, print it out– this is for you. Thank you.

An open letter of gratitude to all

To those who walked, to those who prayed,
To those who sang, to those who cried,
To those who challenged, to those who supported,
To those who acted early,

To those who came with hope,
To those who came with facts,
To those who used the power of their influence,
To those who honored the public trust bestowed upon them,

To all those, the millions of people around the world
who laboured now and before,
so long and so hard, I say:
This is your success.

Individually for each of you, but more powerfully, collectively for all of us.

A critical milestone reached, a decisive turning point inscribed into history.

We have come together to address the most daunting of challenges. We have done so by respecting our differences and setting aside our enmity, by focusing on the present we share and the future we must build together.

As we celebrate this momentous step, may we remember that the journey ahead, although irreversible, will equally require our determination, our ingenuity, the best of our humanity and above all our community of purpose.

Together we can.

Christiana Figueres

Sr Karen: Why I’m travelling to Paris with CAFOD for climate change action

Sr Karen d’Artois OP is a Dominican nun from the Archdiocese of Westminster. She’s part of a delegation of CAFOD campaigners travelling to the UN ‘COP21’ meeting in Paris, calling on world leaders to agree to action on climate change to prevent people in the poorest communities being pushed deeper into poverty.

Sr Karen joined tens of thousands of people marching through London for action on climate change
Sr Karen joined tens of thousands of people marching through London for action on climate change

I learned very young, when I was aged 10, that politics isn’t a ‘spectator sport’.

Studying Politics at university, I realised the same about my Catholic faith. That belief inspired my vocation as a Dominican Sister: to bring together faith and politics in the quest for truth.

To me, the idea that ‘faith has no place in politics’ is rubbish! Faith, in some form, is the basis of every person’s thinking and acting. Jesus criticised the unjust political and social circumstances of his day and appealed for change: he called it the Kingdom of God. As a follower of Jesus, I’m called to help build that Kingdom — where justice and opportunity are within everyone’s reach.

Learn about Pope Francis’s Encyclical

The Climate Summit in Paris is a chance to speak up for planet Earth and the goodness of creation. It’s at risk from our reckless behaviour and misuse of resources. Faith and politics aren’t opposites; they depend on one another. My Catholic faith is the foundation of my politics and activism, and politics informs my faith. Continue reading “Sr Karen: Why I’m travelling to Paris with CAFOD for climate change action”

Climate change: The Laudato Si’ challenge

Paul Kelly CAFOD supporter at laudato Si' dayPaul Kelly is a CAFOD supporter in the Lancaster diocese. He will be travelling to Paris in December 2015 as part of a supporter delegation at the time of the UN climate talks.

With the UN Summit on Climate Change due to start in Paris in a week’s time, it couldn’t have been better timing for a CAFOD study day on the Encyclical letter Laudato Si’.

Sign our petition to world leaders in response to Laudato Si’

As a CAFOD supporter, and member of the Lancaster Diocese Faith and Justice Commission Environment Group, I travelled from North-West England for the event, held on Saturday 7 November in Westminster Cathedral Hall.

Journey with us

The opening prayer litany set the tone: “If you are asking questions such as: What is the purpose of my life in this world? What is the goal of my work and all my efforts, then journey with us;” “If you think we were made for love and therefore that gestures of generosity, solidarity and care can well up within us, then journey with us.” Continue reading “Climate change: The Laudato Si’ challenge”

CAFOD young climate bloggers: Emer researches link between health and the climate

Emer (right) promoting the One Climate, One World campaign
Emer (right) promoting the One Climate, One World campaign

Emer, one of our fantastic young climate bloggers from St Erconwald’s parish, has discovered an interesting effect climate change could have on our health. 

Most people know the general facts about climate change (that the ice caps are melting due to the warming temperatures) but it turns out that climate change is also acting in ways that aren’t quite so noticeable. This research I found out really surprised me about how climate change is affecting our everyday lives in ways in which we wouldn’t expect.

Hay fever is something that so many people suffer from, and although it is not always serious, it often leads to the unwanted red nose and watery eye look. And studies are now suggesting that climate change could be the cause in an increase in sufferers. This is because with the high carbon dioxide levels and hotter temperatures plants are growing faster, blooming sooner in spring and producing more and more pollen. Which in turn leads to worse hay fever symptoms and a longer hayfever season!

Call on David Cameron to act on climate change and sign CAFOD’s climate change petition

Although hay fever is an uncomfortable experience for lots of us in the UK, it is nothing compared to the huge impact on the health of those already living in poverty.  The rise in sea levels leading to flooding, triggered by climate change, is leading to water that is used for washing and drinking becoming contaminated leading to more cases of fatal diseases’ such as typhoid fever.

Also, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has predicted that the raise in temperatures will lead to more cases of malaria.  This is a tropical disease which is spread by mosquitos, and because other countries climates are becoming more suitable to the conditions the disease thrives in, more people globally will be at risk of contracting malaria.

Find out more about CAFOD’s One Climate, One World campaign using our resources for young people.

Join Pope Francis’ environment call to action

 

‘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’”

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’”

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”