Linda Jones is Head of the CAFOD Theology Programme. On the second anniversary of Pope Francis encyclical, Laudato Si’, she reflects on how we can free our hearts and minds to transform our world.
We can each imagine what the world could be like, though we might each have a very different picture in our minds. As Christians, we have a passionate love of God and our neighbour, especially neighbours who are treated as if they don’t matter. We can hear the ‘cry of the earth and the cry of the poor’, and we long to respond.
Yet the challenges are so many, and seemingly so huge, that some of us simply find it all too much. Where do we start? Is it even worth bothering to try? Pope Francis identifies some of the biggest issues facing us in his inspiring encyclical, Laudato Si’: climate change, pollution, migration, work, poverty and inequality… rapidification, an over-reliance on technological change for solutions, and more.
Olwen Maynard has been working on CAFOD’s Middle East Desk since 2006. Here, she looks back at what the generosity of CAFOD’s supporters made possible in the two years following the last major military offensive.
A cup of clean water
Gaza’s tap water is heavily contaminated and dangerous, but buying bottled water is expensive, and can mean having to cut down on food. CAFOD has been working since 2013 with Islamic Relief to provide Reverse Osmosis Units to poor women-headed families, so they can filter their water and make it safe for drinking and cooking. Over the two years since the 2014 airstrikes, which caused massive further damage to the water supply infrastructure, the project has been extended to another 220 families and also to 65 kindergartens, providing clean water for thousands of children, along with hygiene education to help them stay healthy.
Rachel McCarthy works in the CAFOD Theology Programme. She reflects on the inspiring prayers, gifts and actions of the Catholic community throughout this Year of Mercy.
At the beginning of the Year of Mercy, Pope Francis proclaimed, “May the balm of mercy reach everyone, both believers and those far away, as a sign that the Kingdom of God is already present in our midst!”
I have been amazed by the ways you have borne witness to God’s mercy this year, through the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. Thank you for all you do to stand alongside our sisters and brothers living in poverty. Here, we celebrate how you have brought mercy to your local communities and our world.
This Harvest, St John Bosco’s parish in Woodley offered gifts to people who are hungry around world.
Rita Belletty said, “This year we held a creation mass and Harvest offering. It is a token offered back to God in thanksgiving for the gift of fruitful earth, sun and water, joined by our own labour, making us co-creators with God. The second offering was a globe which was taken up to remind us that it is the whole world we are praying for.”
On the day of the canonisation of Blessed Mother Teresa, Daniel Hale, from our campaigns team, reflects on her lifetime of charitable work.
Mother Teresa, one of the most globally iconic people in the Catholic Church in the 20th century, is being declared a saint this weekend in Rome. For many, this is the high point of the Pope’s Year of Mercy. Pope Francis holds Teresa up as the embodiment of Jesus’ words, “whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”
Leaving the relative comfort of her teaching order, Teresa began a ministry to those living on the streets of India. She showed the touch of God’s mercy to the ‘untouchables’ of society. To those who didn’t know more, her reputation was one of absolute charity – feeding the hungry and comforting the dying. When I grew up, Mother Teresa was its personification.
The World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation fills me with gladness. How beautiful it is to think that Catholics all across the world will join together in thanks and praise for the wonderful gifts with which God blesses us.
The World Day of Prayer marks the beginning of the season of creation, which ends on the feast of Saint Francis of Assisi (4 October). It’s an important opportunity to spend time in prayer and reflection, to care for the world around us: our common home.
Pope Francis invites us to celebrate this day to draw closer to God, the Creator of all we can see and touch. From the birds in the sky to the tiniest of creatures, from our next-door neighbour to people in Bolivia, each one of us has been created by God.
Bea Findley travelled to Peru with CAFOD as part of the Step into the Gap programme, and in this blog explains how our partners are working on human right issues.
I’m writing this blog today because the political conflict in Peru feels like more than just history to me now; I have a real understanding of what the people went through and the difficulties of the recovery.
CEAS are the social action group of the Peruvian Bishop’s Conference. I met two women, Bernadina and Clotilde who receive support from CEAS in response to their suffering during the internal political violence which ended in 2000.
During that terrible time, approximately 70,000 people were killed or disappeared. 75% of these were from rural areas and 73% were speakers of the indigenous language, Quechua. A terrorist organisation called Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path) began the violence and the army responded with more violence.
There were horrific mistreatments of people and breaches of human rights: people were tortured, killed, displaced and disappeared. Both the Shining Path, the army and other armed groups were responsible. Nobody could be trusted.
This week we heard that there are a record 65 million people displaced around the world. The European crisis is mirrored across the planet: in Colombia, in Central America, in the Middle East and many more places, including many of the countries where CAFOD works.
Fleeing war, poverty and persecution, people are moving in search of peace and prosperity – a better life for their families. A few find their way to the UK. There are likely to be refugees living in your parish.
It can seem like these global issues are far beyond what we as individuals and families can do to help. But in this Year of Mercy, we are reminded that we should welcome the stranger. We’ve already been moved and encouraged by the number of schools, parishes and individuals who are showing solidarity with refugees.
CAFOD’s World News Manager, Nana Anto-Awuakye has returned from Ethiopia where ten million people currently face extreme hunger. She visited CAFOD’s partners in the northeast of the country to see how they are trying to tackle the devastating effects of the worst drought the country has seen in 30 years.
It is truly shocking to hear a mother talk about her children going hungry, to say that she can’t remember the last time she was able to feed her children three meals a day.
Last month, I was in Ethiopia’s north eastern region, where I met mothers who told me that they, along with millions of others, are facing severe hunger because of food shortages brought on by drought.
Catherine Gorman from our Theology Programme reflects on the Doors of Mercy, where they can be seen in our world and how we can open them to others.
A couple of weeks’ ago I walked through the Door of Mercy at St George’s Cathedral, Southwark with CAFOD colleagues from all around the country. We were praying for refugees and migrants, forced to leave their homes in search of a better life. And as we heard the stories of our brothers and sisters from around the world, intertwined with Scripture, Catholic Social Teaching and prayers, we were moved – imagining ourselves in their shoes, and recognising the need for God’s mercy in our world.
As Pope Francis has said: “By crossing the threshold of the Holy Door, we will find the strength to embrace God’s mercy and dedicate ourselves to being merciful with others as the Father has been with us.” (Misericordiae Vultus #14)
As we passed through the door, I had a real sense that I and my colleagues were truly (re)committing ourselves to share God’s mercy with others, a sense that has stayed with me since.