Hannah Caldwell is CAFOD’s legacy officer and speaks with supporters who are thinking of including a gift to CAFOD in their will. She reflects on how Pope Francis encourages us to care for future generations.
When Pope Francis released his encyclical Laudato Si’, On Care for our Common Home, lots of people at CAFOD were excited. The Pope’s discussion of issues that deeply effect the communities we work with – climate change, human rights, housing, clean water, a fair share of resources – were being put on the centre stage in this document that was addressed not only to the faithful but to the whole world.
But I have to admit, whilst I knew it was important to CAFOD’s work with partners and communities, I wasn’t sure it was relevant to my role as CAFOD’s legacy officer. I was pleased for my colleagues and, as a Catholic, I was interested in what the Pope had to say and how it might encourage me to make changes in my own life, but I didn’t assume there’d be a connection with my work.
Sarah Hagger-Holt works in CAFOD’s campaigns team. She’s determined not to give up hope that together we can build a better world – here’s her seven reasons why.
There’s no disguising the fact that we face huge challenges in tackling climate change – but if we don’t recognise how far we’ve come, we won’t have the energy we need for upcoming battles.
So, if you are tempted to give up hope, read on for seven reasons to stay cheerful.
We can overcome our differences. This week, the UK joined 110 other countries who have ratified the Paris Agreement for cutting carbon emissions and tackling climate change. Something worth celebrating!
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.
It’s one year Laudato Si’ was published. Pope Francis used this ‘letter to the world’ to call for action on issues such as climate change and for us to rethink our ideas of progress. Liam Finn, CAFOD‘s UK News Officer, looks at the impact of the encyclical:
“I wish to address every person living on this planet.”
So declared Pope Francis at the start of his landmark encyclical, Laudato Si’ – On Care for Our Common Home, a year ago. The Holy Father called for a “bold cultural revolution”, imploring us to transform ourselves because the human and environmental costs of our current way of life – particularly for the world’s poorest people – are too high. He spoke of the need for measures to tackle climate change and pollution, for greater awareness and appreciation of nature and the planet, and for us to value everyone in all places and at all stages of life.
Laudato Si’ is extraordinary. For a start, it’s the first encyclical focused on the need to care for Creation. It is, as MPs said in Parliament, a “most beautiful document” which is “astonishing and exceptionally rich”. Even so, its greatest power is the way it acts as a mirror to the world with brutal reflections, whether saying that the earth “is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth”, or talking about “the disposable of society” – a description so steeped in satire that it reads more like it’s from the pen of a punk lyricist than a pontiff.
Gillie Drinkall has been volunteering with CAFOD for seven years, but only recently started writing to her MP about CAFOD campaigns. This week, she joined a group of CAFOD supporters visiting parliament, and heard from international development minister Nick Hurd about the impact of our campaigning.
I first joined CAFOD as an Education Volunteer, a decision based as much on proximity to CAFOD’s headquarters as any spiritual calling.
But, within weeks of me joining, CAFOD had moved from Brixton, near my home, slightly further afield to Romero House. Furthermore, as an Education Volunteer I found myself, unsurprisingly, in schools rather than the office.
Seven hugely enjoyable years later, I now, in addition to the schools volunteering, spend one day a week helping the Campaigns Team at Romero House. It was here that, slightly inadvertently, I became an MP Correspondent (MPC).
Last month Julie Cox from St John Fisher Parish, Rochester, travelled to Cameroon to visit Sr Annette, who shares her deep conviction to live simply, sustainably and in solidarity with the poor. Here she shares her experience of “ecological conversion”.
In 2011, when the livesimply Parish Award Scheme was launched by CAFOD, I heard Fr. Sean McDonagh SSC speak passionately about the integrity of Creation and the impacts of climate change. A seed was sown and I continued to attend subsequent livesimply meetings, learning more about the connection between our Christian faith and human-ecology.
During a Creation-focused meeting at the Franciscan Study Centre, Canterbury, I had the good fortune to meet a Franciscan Sister from Cameroon, Sr Annette Tangwa TSSF. We became close friends, sharing a passion to restore Creation.
I had the great privilege of reconnecting with my dear friend Sr Annette last November when I travelled to Cameroon. What struck me when I first arrived in this central African country was the warmth, openness and receptivity of the Cameroonian people. It was a truly wonderful experience to be among a rural community centred on the parish of the Sacred Heart, Shisong.
The Year of Mercy is an opportunity to celebrate God’s love and to bring mercy to others. Celia Deane-Drummond, a member of the CAFOD Theological reference group, reflects on God’s mercy towards creation and what this teaches us today.
Most of us have had times in our lives when we have known what it means to receive mercy from others. Perhaps through the caring we received after an injury or illness, either physical or mental; perhaps through knowing we have done something wrong and feeling dependent on someone else’s forgiveness; perhaps just sheer material need that depends on another’s act of generosity. Mercy is what we need when we are vulnerable and in need of love, healing and forgiveness. It accompanies those good actions like a quiet breath of hope.
The only time that Pope Francis explicitly mentions mercy in Laudato Si’ is in a paragraph on God’s love for creation where he cites Pope Benedict XVI’s Catechesis, written ten years earlier in 2005. For love has a way of binding up all other attitudes towards the created world, and without which mercy becomes impossible. So, in the same paragraph, Pope Francis refers back to the work of the early Church father, Basil the Great, as well as the well-known medieval poet, Dante, in order to support his claim. It is worth meditating on this passage a little more in order to unpack what mercy might mean in relation to the created world:
“Even the fleeting life of the least of beings is the object of his love, and in its few seconds of existence, God enfolds it with his affection. Saint Basil the Great described the Creator as “goodness without measure”, while Dante Alighieri spoke of “the love which moves the sun and the stars”. Consequently, we can ascend from created things “to the greatness of God and to his loving mercy”(§77). Continue reading “Love and mercy: learning God’s tenderness towards creation”
Throughout this year we have been blogging for CAFOD about climate change. When I first started I thought it would be mostly just about global warming and saving energy, but I have learnt it is so much more than that. I have never really stopped to think about how the actions of people in this country affected the lives of those in poorer countries.
As well as saving energy, we need to think about how much of the earth’s resources we use and how wasteful we are.
Everyone talks about how we, as a country, need to save money and learn to live on less but I never really stopped to think about the big difference each family can make. Last week I watched Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s programme on food waste.
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”
With Harvest Fast Day activities and preparation starting this weekend, Sister Carmel, a religious Sister of Marie Auxiliatrice from the Parish of Our Lady of Muswell in North London, reflects on how God calls us to not only empathise with our brothers and sisters living in poverty, but to put that care into action. Sister Carmel, a retired teacher and missionary, and now a CAFOD Westminster volunteer, explains how you and your parish can help.
When during Morning Prayer on the Feast of the Transfiguration I came across the lines “my body pines for you like a dry weary land without water” (Psalm 63), my mind went immediately to the people of Niger, the poorest country in the world, who like too many others on our planet are in the throes of another terrible drought and its consequent crop failure and lack of food for thousands. I reflected on the request of our Holy Father in Laudato Si’, where he invites us to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes and sense how it is for them, and felt compelled to do something about this dreadful situation.
This Harvest CAFOD is telling the story of Hamani, a 74 year-old farmer from the village of Doutchi in southern Niger. A man struggling, with pride and perseverance, to grow enough produce to feed his family and have something over to share with his less fortunate neighbours. Given the havoc being wrought time and again, year in year out since 2010 this is a well-nigh impossible task but nevertheless he is still confident that given some help from us he will manage to grow enough to eat and put aside some seeds to sow for next year’s harvest. He is not looking for hand-outs, just enough to help him survive with dignity and become self-reliant.