The Amazon Synod: God who speaks

Francis Stewart from our Theology team reflects on the Amazon Synod in the light of the Year of the Word now being celebrated in England and Wales until December 2020.

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Why the Earth needs the Amazon

Bishop David Martínez de Aguirre Guinea works in Peru’s Amazon and is one of the two Secretaries attending the Amazon Synod. As the Synod takes place, Bishop David tells us about the importance of bringing the Amazon and its peoples into the heart of the Church. 

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Hopes for the Amazon Synod

The historic Synod on the Amazon starts this week in Rome. For our Theology team, Harriet Paterson finds out the hopes of people at the heart of the story.

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This is a climate emergency

Mark Chamberlain, CAFOD Communications Officer, describes how people’s lives are changing around the world because of climate change.

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Celebrating Human Rights Defenders in Brazil

Today is International Human Rights Day. Esther Gillingham, CAFOD’S Brazil Programme Officer explains how CAFOD’s partner, Justice on the Railway Tracks is empowering human rights defenders and changing lives in Brazil.

CAFOD are very proud to share the news that our Brazilian partner, Justice on the Railway Tracks was presented with the first ever  Human Rights and Business Foundation Award presented at the UN Forum on Business and Human Rights in Geneva on 27th November 2018.

They received the award for their work defending poor communities from the impacts of human rights and environmental abuses by mining companies in the Amazonian state of Maranhao in north-eastern Brazil.

This work included a 13-year long legal struggle which resulted in the landmark resettlement of the Piquia de Baixo community who have been adversely affected by a huge steel plant built right next to their community in the 1980s.

Support our human rights work in Brazil

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Saint Romero: My inspiration

Blessed Oscar Romero is being officially recognised as a saint on 14 October 2018

Tania Dalton frequently travelled to El Salvador with CAFOD.

Tania Dalton was a member of CAFOD’s Latin America team for nearly 13 years. In this blog she explains how Archbishop Oscar Romero has inspired her to begin a new chapter in her life.

Two big things are happening in my life right now:

  1. I have started to train as a primary school teacher
  2. Blessed Oscar Romero is being officially recognised as a saint on 14 October

It might seem conceited to say the two things are related, but in my mind, they are.

Inspired by Oscar Romero

I first heard about Archbishop Oscar Romero when I started working in CAFOD in 1999. I am inspired daily by Romero’s unwavering option for the poor, although I was a small child when he was killed for his defence of basic human rights and social justice.

Read more about Oscar Romero’s life

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Disappearance: Torture without end

Sunset over San Salvador, capital of El Salvador
Sunset over San Salvador, capital of El Salvador

On International Day of the Disappeared, CAFOD’s Clare Dixon shares the story of people who worked at the height of the conflict in El Salvador to make sure people killed by death squads did not just disappear without a trace. Sadly, some of the details of this story are distressing.

The first time I visited El Salvador in 1981 the country was plunged in a brutal civil war. Thousands of ordinary men and women were being targeted by the army and death squads, just for demanding their basic human rights, a decent wage, and freedom of speech. Nobody ventured out after dark for fear of being arrested or just snatched off the streets and I felt an overwhelming sense of fear and dread.

Archbishop Romero, the “voice of the voiceless” who had espoused and defended the cause of the poor and oppressed, had been shot dead as he said Mass in 1980. A year later I was visiting El Salvador to meet with members of his Archdiocese who, with the support of CAFOD, had set up a human rights office. Its task was to provide legal aid to help and comfort the countless victims of violence who had nowhere else to turn when their loved ones had “disappeared” after being captured by the death squads.

Please pray for those struggling in El Salvador

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Meeting Edelmira ahead of Harvest Fast Day 2017

Tania works as Communications Officer in our Latin America Team.  Her role involves lots of opportunities to meet inspiring people like Edelmira, whose story of flourishing and achievement we are celebrating this Harvest Fast Day.

Donate to our Harvest Fast Day appeal

My first impressions of Edelmira when I met her in 2016, were of a friendly, welcoming woman, constantly busy. She was a little nervous of meeting me, a visitor from far away.  I was also nervous about visiting Edelmira.  CAFOD had sent me to interview her for our Connect2 El Salvador parish programme, and I was feeling the weight of responsibility!

Find out how your parish can join Connect2

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Blessed Oscar Romero’s influence continues today

To commemorate 100 years since the birth of Blessed Oscar Romero, CAFOD PR manager Kemi Bamgbose spoke to several people who continue to be inspired by Romero’s  powerful legacy today.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of Blessed Oscar Romero, the Archbishop of San Salvador, El Salvador who was brutally assassinated in 1980.

Archbishop Romero was beatified in 2015 and today he is recognised across the world for his commitment to social justice – practically demonstrating the love of God by defending the rights of the poorest and most marginalised communities in El Salvador.

His life and legacy continues to inspire many people to be a voice for the voiceless. Meet those lives have been transformed by his work.

Rebecca Haile, Bangladesh Programme Officer, CAFOD

I first came across ‘A step along the way’ prayer when I was at school and then several years later when my Mum gave me a printed copy when I first considered moving into International Development after finishing University.

I even referenced this Romero-inspired prayer in my first CAFOD interview several years ago! The prayer really resonates with me and constantly reminds me why CAFOD’s work is so important and much needed.

As the poem sums up, we may not be able to solve every problem we face but there’s value in our contribution, no matter how small. And we might not see the fruits of our work in our lifetime but we’re building the necessary foundations for the future. This is a really humbling and beautiful sentiment.

Juan Garcia, Farmer, El Salvador

“Monseñor Romero spoke a lot for the poor. We went to his funeral in 1980. Some people came to tell our cooperative that the funeral would happen and took us there for free. I was there when the army started to fire on us. Monseñor Romero died for speaking the truth in favour of the poor. You felt he was a person who helped the poor. Everything he did was good. The president was doing a lot of bad things to us in the cooperatives, but Oscar Romero did things in favour of us. And for this, we love him.”

Find out more about the life of Blessed Oscar Romero

Bernadette Goddard, Seville, Spain

“I first came across Blessed Oscar Romero when I started volunteering with CAFOD almost 10 years ago. As part of my year with CAFOD step into the Gap I had the privilege of travelling to Nicaragua. There, I met the sisters, who were giving a voice to children, young people and women in poor and rural areas. Seeing this work in action reminded me of Romero’s compassion for the poor and his desire to be a voice for the voiceless.

After returning from Nicaragua a friend shared a profound Romero phrase which I now hold in my heart: “Each one of you has to be God’s microphone.” I have met many people in my life who have a voice which is not heard for whatever reason. As each of us are made in the image and likeness of God we have a responsibility to be a microphone of justice and peace for each other – just as Romero said.”

 Anthony, pupil

“I learnt about Archbishop Romero at schools and the values he lived by which inspired him to give his life to help the poor.  He was courageous because he needed to be brave to help other people. He also had hope because he had faith God even in a situation like the one he was in. Oscar Romero also had love because he loved the poor people enough to give his life for them.”

Take a look at our education resources on the life of Blessed Oscar Romero

Susy Brouard, Theology Programme Advisor, CAFOD

“I have seen the Romero film three times – the first being in my early 20s. The film had a profound impact on me. Romero is an inspiration for anyone and everyone. He was a traditional bookworm – the last person you would expect to get involved with challenging the government and the army. But following the murder of his good friend, Rutilio Grande and the increasing injustices he witnessed, he couldn’t help but act. Only God could have inspired him to put his life on the line in this way.

There are many things I admire about Romero but one of them was Romero regularly included the names of those who had been tortured and murdered in his homilies – such was his dedication. Romero was the voice of the oppressed. He inspired me to not only work for social justice but to work for CAFOD and to challenge the structures which oppress people and prevent human flourishing.”

Find out more about our Romero-inspired retreats happening this Autumn

Defending rights in Brazil: supporting our brothers and sisters living in favelas

Tony Sheen is CAFOD’s Community Participation Coordinator for Westminster Diocese. Here he looks back on a memorable visit to São Paulo’s favelas in Brazil. He explains how seeing the Church ‘in action’ defending the human rights of those in need continues to inspire him.

A couple of years ago I was lucky enough to visit São Paulo and meet some of the people supported by CAFOD’s partners. Early one morning I travelled with Heluiza and Osmar from our partner APOIO, to visit a shanty town to the east of the city called Electropaulo Favela, where over 1200 families live in abject poverty.

5 human rights violations CAFOD partners are working on

 

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