Catherine from our Theology team reflects on the climate emergency facing the Earth, our common home, its impact on the lives of those who are poorest, and how Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si’ offers hope and inspiration for action.
Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si’ has inspired and challenged CAFOD in the way we work. Susy Brouard, from CAFOD’s theology team, and Gisele Henriques, from our international programmes team, reflect on how.
In June 2015 Pope Francis issued the encyclical Laudato Si’. The sub-title was “on care for our common home”. The letter was addressed not just to Catholics, and not just to people of faith. It was addressed to every citizen on the planet.
Pope Francis recognises that we have a common problem – environmental and social degradation. This problem will require a common solution so everyone is invited to be involved! As the Pope stated: “I urgently appeal, then, for a new dialogue about how we are shaping the future of our planet.” (# 14)
As a Catholic development agency CAFOD took the Pope’s invitation to dialogue very seriously. We felt we were in a good position to contribute constructively to the conversation. At the same time, we also saw that Laudato Si’ contained within it many challenges about the way we live and work. This included our approach to international development. We realised that we might be required to change some of the ways we think and work.
Sister Clara is a nun from Zambia. She shares with us how climate change is becoming the main cause of poverty and how renewable energy and your support can make a difference.
Zambia has in recent years experienced extreme shifts in weather patterns. These shifts are resulting in profoundly negative impacts on the economy.
The poorest people living in rural areas, like Mbala in Northern Zambia, are most affected because almost everyone is dependent on farming as their main source of living. In addition, most people do not have access to electricity either because it is too expensive or because the country cannot afford a national grid. So the people of Mbala, and other such villages, are often left without this, the most basic of necessities.
Therefore, as a religious congregation working in Mbala, we have been helping the poorest people. We have been supporting them both materially and financially through the Households in Distress Project (H.I.D).
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 nine years. About two years ago she started writing to her MP about CAFOD campaigns. Back then she joined a group of CAFOD supporters visiting parliament, and heard from Nick Hurd MP about the impact of our campaigning. Here she tells us that story.
I first joined CAFOD as an Education Volunteer. That decision was 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”