How is Laudato Si’ changing the way we work at CAFOD?

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)

Reflect on and respond to Laudato Si’ with our prayer resources

CAFOD’s reflection on Laudato Si’

Susy Brouard holding a copy of the Laudato Si
Susy Brouard holding a copy of Laudato Si’

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.

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Gospel reflection: Excess baggage weighs us down

In this Sunday’s gospel, Jesus sends out his disciples to spread the Good News, telling them that they must take no possessions with them. Volunteer Trevor Stockton reflects on this gospel reading and how we are all called to live more simply.

Based on the gospel for Sunday 15 July – Mark 6: 7-13

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“He instructed them to take nothing for the journey except a staff”

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I’m dreaming of a livesimply Christmas…

Livesimply sign at Our Lady and St Edward's church, Lancaster diocese
Livesimply sign at Our Lady and St Edward’s church, Lancaster diocese

This year, CAFOD supporter Stephen Garsed is encouraging fellow parishioners at Our Lady and St Edward’s parish in Preston, to think about living simply and loving abundantly this Christmas. Here are his top six suggestions…

The word we hear so often in the weeks before Christmas is ‘tradition’. It is particularly promoted by the glossy magazines who like to sell us the concept of ‘the perfect Christmas’.

But do we want Christmas to be about things or about family? As the TV adverts encourage us to spend more, my mind turns to thinking of ways we can celebrate Christmas in a simple, more environmentally-friendly and loving way. Continue reading “I’m dreaming of a livesimply Christmas…”

My reflections of Rebuilding Justice, London

Caroline Grogan works in CAFOD’s Campaigns team. She recently met Fr Edu, a Goldman Environmental Prize winning activist who works for NASSA (Caritas Philippines).

I had never heard a priest and social and environmental activist speak before, so I was privileged to hear CAFOD partner Fr Edu at the Rebuilding Justice Event in London on Saturday. He was there to thank CAFOD supporters for their generous donations that helped people post-Typhoon Haiyan. He spoke about the widespread poverty across the country, where communities are made vulnerable to the effects of extreme weather and a changing climate.

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Fr Edu talks to CAFOD supporters at Romero House
Fr Edu talks to CAFOD supporters at Romero House

Accidental activist

Fr Edu became an environmental activist “by accident” when he stood up for the indigenous Mangyan community he was serving in Mindoro island. “Defending our land is a necessity,” he said, and standing in solidarity with people being forced off their land is imperative.

Fr Edu currently serves indigenous communities in a highland region of the Philippines. I was moved by his description of Filipino resilience as a  a strong force which was “enabled by our faith. He is excited by Pope Francis’ ground-breaking encyclical on which he says asks us to put our “faith into action”.

It was extremely inspiring to hear about how he is motivated by love for God’s creation. Fr Edu reminded us that the organisation he leads – Caritas Philippines – means love. Fr Edu expressed this love in these words, “We should never sacrifice people and the environment for short-term benefit of the few.” Continue reading “My reflections of Rebuilding Justice, London”

The significance of St Francis in the light of Laudato Si’

View from San Damiano church, Assisi
View from San Damiano church, Assisi

Megan Cornwell is CAFOD’s UK News Officer. She visited Assisi in May for her wedding anniversary and tells us what she learned about St. Francis, whose writings inspired the title of the encyclical Laudato Si’.

As you stare out over the lush, verdant Umbrian countryside that surrounds San Damiano church – the place where St Francis of Assisi wrote ‘The Canticle of the Sun’ – it’s easy to see why the man who inspired the Franciscan Order was so convinced of mankind’s inherent unity with nature. The view is spectacular and must have been even more breath-taking 800 years ago when Francis was convalescing at this little church.

In May I had the privilege of visiting Assisi in Umbria, the birthplace of St Francis. It’s a truly special place and San Damiano, in particular, is the jewel in the Umbrian crown.


Megan outside San Damiano church

Now that the papal encyclical, Laudato Si’, has been published, taking its title from St Francis’ canticle, no less, I’ve been reflecting on the significance and legacy of “the little poor man of Assisi”.

Download The Canticle of the Sun prayer

The significance of St Francis

St Francis is an inspiring character; born into a wealthy merchant family, he chose to reject comfort, pleasure and position by embracing an ascetic life that called for obedience to God and fellowship and solidarity with the poor. I think he is a great example for us today as we challenge ourselves to live out gospel values of peace, patience and self-control while living in wealthier countries that tell us we can have it all. Continue reading “The significance of St Francis in the light of Laudato Si’”

What does upcycling and New Balance trainers have to do with Laudato Si’? CAFOD designer Ivan fills us in

Pope Francis writes in in his encyclical Laudato Si’ that we should “aim for a new lifestyle”. He says we can easily get caught up in “a whirlwind of needless buying and spending” and “compulsive consumerism”, missing the beauty of creation. CAFOD’s Designer Ivan Nascimento has been making small changes to his lifestyle over the years and shares with us some top tips for reducing our own carbon footprint.

Over the years, and while working for CAFOD in particular, I have become increasingly aware of the impact I have on the earth and our brothers and sisters overseas. As a result, I’ve sought ways to reduce my carbon footprint and, instead of buying new products, I have explored repairing, fixing and up-cycling.

Ivan's New Balance trainers, before and after
Ivan’s trainers, before and after

What I have found as I’ve looked at the alternatives is a greater freedom to enjoy my belongings and less pressure to conform to society’s expectations of me. I wouldn’t claim to have all the answers, but I am convinced that where there is a will, there is a way and that small changes really do make a big difference.

Make do and mend 

When New Balance trainers came back into fashion earlier this year, instead of spending between £60 and £70 on a new pair, I dusted off my old trusty runners and gave them a revamp. Using a simple black dye I made them look good as new – and even got some compliments from friends and colleagues!

Continue reading “What does upcycling and New Balance trainers have to do with Laudato Si’? CAFOD designer Ivan fills us in”