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”

My Harvest Fast Day – a day in solidarity with those who do not have enough

Rosemary has supported CAFOD for over 30 years – buying World Gifts, taking part in LiveSimply, praying for our partners around the world, and even running the London Marathon. Rosemary tells us why giving is important to her and what her plans are for Harvest Fast Day.

Justice in my family

Rosemary after running the London Marathon for CAFOD in 2015
Rosemary after running the London Marathon for CAFOD in 2015

When my husband and I first moved to Norwich, about 34 years ago, our finances were quite tricky. We prayed and decided we would put God first. We decided to tithe our income and give 10 per cent back to the Lord for his Kingdom work. A big proportion of our funds went to CAFOD. We wanted our tithing to go towards justice and peace work because we believe there has to be justice before there can be peace. How can people live peacefully in their hearts when others are struggling? As Pope Paul said: “If you want peace, work for justice.”

Download Fast Day resources to help you organise a Fast Day collection in your parish.

I brought my children up to think about justice within the family and being fair. We don’t take things from each other without asking because we’re depriving that person of a chance to be generous. If you’re asked, the kind thing is to say: “Yes, you may borrow it.” But you have to ask first, otherwise you’re taking from that person and presuming they’ll be generous. Then they can have the blessing from making a good choice. Continue reading “My Harvest Fast Day – a day in solidarity with those who do not have enough”

Pope Francis speaks up for our common home

Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, from Manila in the Philippines, is President of CAFOD partner Caritas Internationalis. He reflects on Pope Francis’ encyclical and the devastating typhoon that hit his country in 2013.

Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle - Caritas - CAFODI do not need to tell the people in my country that we are living in a time of crisis. When Typhoon Haiyan caused widespread devastation across the Philippines in November 2013, it was immaterial as to whether it was caused by climate change or not; people suffered and the poorest were hit hardest. In such times of crisis what should our response be?

Climate change affects the dignity of the most vulnerable

In the Encyclical Laudato Si’ released this week, Pope Francis acknowledges the seriousness of climate change and how it is affecting the dignity of the most vulnerable, as well as the harmony between humans and nature. In the light of the Gospel of Creation, he calls us all to urgently respond to protect the gift of creation and the richness of life. He challenges us all, governments, businesses and citizens, to look deep within ourselves and find a common answer reflecting all peoples’ voices, for the appropriate response is not an easy or simple issue to be solved. This is a deeply rooted problem, which goes to the heart of who we are and our values.

Find prayers inspired by Laudato Si’

In line with his predecessors, Pope Francis is looking at the signs of the times that confront us. Laudato Si’ is a powerful and inspiring document calling us to a greater solidarity with the environment, a solidarity that binds the caring for people and caring for the environment. We must recalibrate our relationship with nature, the garden God has created for us, which we have looked upon as a subordinate to our desires and extracted from mercilessly without fear of the consequences.

The environmental crisis is affecting our brothers and sisters worldwide

I hear more and more from my brothers and sisters across the world about how the environmental crisis is already affecting them. CAFOD has reported that more than 400 million of the world’s poorest people – more than the total population of the USA and the UK put together – are most at risk from the impacts of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) – the leading scientific authority on the issue whose findings are backed by governments worldwide – has said with 95 percent certainty in its 2013 report that humans are the main cause of climate change. Pope Francis writes that climate change is “one of the principal challenges facing humanity” where the “huge consumption on the part of some rich countries has repercussions on the poorest areas of the world.” Continue reading “Pope Francis speaks up for our common home”

Speak Up climate lobby – making my voice heard

Sarah Hagger-Holt, CAFOD’s Campaigns Engagement Manager, tells us about her experience at the Speak Up climate lobby.

CAFOD climate lobby of parliamentOn 17 June, 9,000 people came to Westminster to speak to their MPs about climate change as part of The Climate Coalition Speak Up For the Love Of lobby of Parliament. They came in twos and threes or in coach-loads. For some it was a simple tube ride, while others got up before dawn or even travelled down by overnight bus. They came from almost every UK constituency.

Couldn’t make it to the lobby? It’s not too late to speak up

I spotted many familiar faces from past marches and lobbies, as well groups of schoolchildren experiencing their first taste of campaigning for change. I saw parents with their babies sleeping in slings, and caught up with a group of Sisters, all well into their 70s, having the time of their lives waving their banners and chatting to other CAFOD supporters.

It can be lonely to be a campaigner

It can be lonely to be a campaigner. I sometimes feel that my voice is tiny compared to the global systems that dominate our world. But this was a day when we were strong: in numbers, in diversity and in commitment for a world where all can flourish. Continue reading “Speak Up climate lobby – making my voice heard”

Pedal Against Poverty 2015

Jon Stricklin-Coutinho, Manager for Westminster Diocese, tells us why you should Pedal Against Poverty.

Pedal Against Poverty for CAFOD
Pedal Against Poverty annual bike ride

For nearly a decade CAFOD supporters from Westminster, Southwark and Brentwood have come together in the Lee Valley to Pedal Against Poverty. On Sunday 7 June almost 200 cyclists will be taking over the tow paths for a morning, just as they do every summer. Incredibly, in this ninth year of the event, our combined fundraising total over the years should reach £100,000!

Sign up to Pedal Against Poverty on Sunday 7 June 2015

So what can attendees expect on the day? As CAFOD’s Manager for Westminster Diocese, my day starts at Ponders End Lock – the starting point of our more challenging 19 mile route – at 10:15am. Riders can also choose the more family-friendly ten mile distance, with these riders congregating at Cheshunt. There’s a real party atmosphere as everyone picks up their ride number, with our volunteers registering the most spontaneous of our riders and giving out last-minute CAFOD vests and t-shirts. My responsibility is the safety briefing (we are cycling along a tow path after all!) and checking that everyone has a helmet. Then there’s the obligatory group photo before the shout is given and the cyclists are off! Continue reading “Pedal Against Poverty 2015”

Oscar Romero: a man of God

By Monsignor Ricardo Urioste, Archbishop Romero’s Vicar General and close friend

Monsignor Urioste in the church where Romero was murdered
Monsignor Urioste in the church where Romero was murdered

One of my first memories of Archbishop Oscar Romero was when I accompanied him to Rome in 1977. I can never sleep on a plane, so when we arrived at around eight o’clock in the morning, I was thinking about sleeping for a while. Then somebody knocked at my door. I opened, and it was Bishop Romero. He said, “Do you want to go for a stroll?” I said, “Yes, we should. Let’s go!”

And so we went directly to St Peter’s Basilica. He entered the basilica, went to the altar of the confession and he knelt down. I knelt down with him. After something like five minutes, I stood up. I saw him in such deep prayer that I said to myself: “I have to follow this man because he is following God.”

The spirit of Christ

I was fortunate to work with Romero for another three years after this. He was a man of faith, a man of God, a man of prayer. There is a quotation in St Paul’s Letter to the Romans 8:9 that says: “Whoever does not have the spirit of Christ does not belong to me.” And I asked myself, what was this spirit of Christ? And I find three characteristics of Christ essential.

The first was Christ’s sense of praying – looking for God, his Father. Because even if Christ is God, he knows the Father is another person, different from him, so he talks to him every day. And the Gospel tells us how he got up early in the morning and went to the mountain to pray or passed the whole night praying.

Find prayers inspired by Romero

The second characteristic of Jesus is his preaching of the Kingdom of God, based on love for everybody, even for those who don’t like him and make difficulty for him.

The third one is his closeness to the poor. He was close to the poor; to the blind, to the lepers, to the people who needed him. Continue reading “Oscar Romero: a man of God”

Nepal Earthquake: A first-hand account

Lilian Chan, who works for our partner Caritas Australia, reports from Nepal.

The earthquake struck without any warning. One minute I was filming an interview with a villager. The next, I was running to an open field as the ground shook violently and debris from houses flew overhead. It was a truly terrifying situation. As I watched the clouds of dust rising above collapsed houses, I knew that Caritas’ presence in this community would be more important than ever.

Collapsed buildings in Kathmandu
Collapsed buildings in Kathmandu

Surveying the damage

After the ground settled, I walked around the village to survey the damage. Having lived through smaller earthquakes before, most people knew to take refuge in the open fields. I saw one young girl, probably no older than four, sitting with her family, her eyes wide with fright. People her age have never experienced anything like this.

Please donate to our Nepal Earthquake Appeal

It has been more than 80 years since Nepal has seen an earthquake cause this kind of devastation. Reaching a magnitude of 7.8, the earthquake has killed thousands of people and the United Nations say that more than eight million people have been affected – more than a quarter of Nepal’s total population. Many homes, schools and hospitals have been destroyed, and water and sanitation services have been cut off in remote areas.

As I travelled back into Kathmandu, the scene was heartbreaking. Buildings I had only seen for the first time days earlier were reduced to heaps of debris. People were evacuating their homes, with nowhere to take shelter. And we saw patients evacuated from the hospital. With nowhere to go, they had to be treated on the ground, out in the streets.

£35 provides tents to shelter 15 families

I have never experienced an earthquake before. The initial tremor is terrifying. But the continued threat of destructive aftershocks causes further damage and trauma to people who are already vulnerable. A few days on from the earthquake, fearful of the aftershocks, many people in Kathmandu were still sleeping out on the street or in open public spaces. Continue reading “Nepal Earthquake: A first-hand account”

Syria crisis: healthcare for refugees

By Tabitha Ross, CAFOD freelancer in Lebanon

In Syria, it’s traditionally a source of great pride to be the mother of sons, and Ghossoun was rightly proud of her five boys. Brought up on a farm in the Homs region of Syria, each one grew up and went into the army when he left home – a stable and respectable career at the time. Ghossoun and her husband were left at home with their youngest, their only girl.

Ghossoun, Syrian refugee in Lebanon - CAFOD and Caritas
Ghossoun

Then Syria descended into war.

Ghossoun’s sons were targeted

“We didn’t want to participate in the war. We were neither with the government nor against it. But unfortunately we were not allowed that option,” said Ghossoun.

Because they were in the army, her sons were targeted as government supporters, although Ghossoun says their choice of career was not a political statement. The threats got worse, and one terrible day, Ghossoun’s husband was murdered as he worked on the farm.

Fearing for her children’s lives, Ghossoun fled to Lebanon with her family.

Donate to CAFOD’s Syria Crisis appeal

This made her sons military deserters, and now they are in trouble with both the Syrian government and its opponents. “We told the authorities that their father was killed and their lives were threatened, but of course they didn’t believe us,” she said.

They have also been pursued to Lebanon by the group that killed her husband, and have had to move around several times. Now they live in hiding, only leaving the house when absolutely necessary. Continue reading “Syria crisis: healthcare for refugees”

Young people speak up for our sisters and brothers in the face of climate change

Liam Finn, CAFOD Regional Media Officer
Liam

Liam Finn is CAFOD’s Regional Media Officer. He tells us how young people are supporting our sisters and brothers as they face extreme weather.

Hundreds of young people from across the country are joining our One Climate, One World campaign – in schools, in churches, and even in Parliament.

10,000 calls by supporters have been made to party leaders to secure an ambitious global deal to cut polluting fossil fuels and to move towards sustainable energy for everyone. Climate change, which scientists believe with 95 per cent certainty is being driven by human activity, is the biggest threat to tackling poverty worldwide – and is already affecting communities both overseas and in the UK.

Join the One Climate, One World campaign for young people

One Climate, One World comes at a time when climate change is firmly on the Church’s agenda. Bishop Sánchez Sorondo, Chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and Social Sciences, broke the news at CAFOD’s Pope Paul VI Memorial Lecture that Pope Francis is preparing to publish an encyclical on the environment and human ecology. Continue reading “Young people speak up for our sisters and brothers in the face of climate change”

Flame2: Expressing our faith this Lent

Nathaniel and Remi are CAFOD young leaders and students at St Joseph’s College, Reading. They tell us about their experience at Flame2.

Nathaniel and Remi with other CAFOD young leaders at Flame2
Nathaniel and Remi with other CAFOD young leaders at Flame2

As we progress through the season of Lent, it is important that as Catholics we take the time to reflect on how we can contribute to our community.

The CYMFed Flame2 event at Wembley Arena earlier this month was an opportunity to reflect along with thousands of other young Catholics. You could feel the presence of God in the hearts and minds of everyone as we gathered to kindle the flame of Christ.

Aged 11-18 and want to express your faith?

As we took to our seats, the event roared into life with uplifting and exciting music by liturgical dancers and double-Grammy award winning songwriter Matt Redman. Thousands of pinpoints of light from the mobile phones of the audience shone around the arena, as everyone joined together in musical worship.

Lighting the flames of our faith

CAFOD had prepared a series of lunchtime activities for us as young leaders to use to engage and inform people. During the balloon challenge, participants were asked to race each other to inflate the balloons the fastest, not knowing that one of the balloons had a hole pierced through it. The balloon with the hole symbolised how not all of us have equal opportunities in life, because many people are born into areas which are disadvantaged by the climate, resources or political systems. CAFOD young leaders also contributed to getting #Flame2 trending on Twitter, by sharing photos of activities and of friends wearing the One Climate, One World heart costume. Continue reading “Flame2: Expressing our faith this Lent”