Report from Kumi Now Meeting 14.09.2021 Justice and Peace Communications Volunteer Colette Gilhooley

Justice and Peace Communications Volunteer Colette Gilhooley

I attended my first meeting of Kumi Now on 14.09.2021 because the World Week of Peace for Israel and Palestine is coming up on Saturday 18th September – 25th September and I wanted to learn more.

The main speaker was Zoughbi Alzoughbi, founder and director of Wi’am: The Palestinian Conflict Transformation Centre. The Wi’am Centre helps to resolve disputes within the Palestinian community providing services to women, youth, children and international diplomacy. They are involved in Sulha mediation, constructive reconciliation where their staff take on the role of mediators. After people are able to live without seeking revenge which is good for the people and the community. They are dealing with conflict around the clock and it is many kinds from issues which are financial, employment, land, domestic. There is a pressure cooker atmosphere making conflicts more likely. However, they try to solve these conflicts with a smile. With the youth they have exchange programmes, although with Covid these are now virtual. The Centre also welcomes visitors to the Holy Land giving a unique insight into the places and contemporary situations in the area. One issue is access to Rachel’s tomb which was visited by the Pope which has been annexed causing hardship to local business in the area and economic difficulties. The Palestinian community rely on family structures of support; however, The Wi’am Centre has a job creation program helping to support families suffering difficulties.

Other Points of Interest:

  • International indifference is a problem
  • There are more than 100,000 settlers living around Bethlehem.
  • There are less than 45,000 Christians in Bethlehem.
  • Unemployment in Bethlehem is more than 25%.
  • 4,650 Palestinian Political Prisoners in Israeli Jails, 520 held without charge or trial.
  • Covid is high with over 11,000 cases in Israel and 2,000 in Palestine and 80 deaths every day across Israel and Palestine.
  • There are nightly raids next to the Refugee Camp near the centre because it is close to the wall, however tear gas containers and the bullets are collected to make into Christmas ornaments. 

Hope

There are many reasons to hope and try to change the lens for the future away from violence to peace including our role considering how we can show our support for communities in need this Christmas.

Interesting Links:

Kumi Now – KUMI NOW – Together For Justice

Wi’am: The Palestinian Conflict Transformation Centre – Wi’am: The Palestinian Conflict Transformation Center (alaslah.org)

The wall Museum in Bethlehem where youths can express and share their stories. – The “Wall Museum” in Bethlehem, Palestine | Facebook

The Tent of Nations a peace project located on a hundred acre farm, 6 miles from Bethlehem – Help Save 🎪Tent of Nations (salsalabs.org)

World Council of Churches – World Week for Peace in Israel and Palestine

The World Week of Peace for Israel and Palestine 18th September – 25th September 2021

Dome of the Rock, Jerusalem, with Dome of the Chain in the foreground

The World Week of Peace for Israel and Palestine is an annual event which is taking place this year on Saturday 18th – Saturday 25th September 2021 promoted by the World Council of Churches (WCC). The aim of this week of peace is for a united focus on promoting and praying for peace for all people in the Holy Land. 

Rev Prof. Dr Ioan Sauca, acting Secretary of WCC, reflected: “The annual world week for peace in Palestine and Israel offers an opportunity for all of us who share the hope of justice and peace in the Holy Land to unite around the globe in solidarity and peaceful action, and to create a common international public witness”.

We are invited to join with church, faith-based communities and civil society organisations around the world to pray, advocate and stand in solidarity for just peace for all in Israel and Palestine. This year there is a focus on the role of art and reconciliation. ‘I will also praise you with a harp, even your truth, O my God (Psalm 71:22).

Rt. Rev Nicholas Hudson, lead Bishop of Justice and Peace in the Diocese of Westminster, writes:

“My prayers are with all those I’ve met in the Holy Land who are not only living through the recurrence of devastating wars, but also the daily horrors of occupation, blockade, and dispossession. In particular we recall the confiscations of homes and violations of holy sites, that resulted in such catastrophic violence earlier this year and continue today.

No sustainable resolution can be imposed by military or political means; it will only be achieved by respecting human dignity without exception. Therefore as we come together in prayer for peace, let us also raise our voices for justice.”

There are a number of ways that you can support this week including keeping this intention for peace in your prayers. If you are creative perhaps you can pray using the medium of paintings, lyrics, music, dance and other artistic expressions. Perhaps you could promote this week of peace on social media sharing this intention with friends.

“Let us pray as though everything depended on God but work as though everything depended on us” (St Augustine)

RESOURCES

Pax Christi – https://paxchristi.org.uk/campaigns/israel-and-palestine/world-week-for-peace-in-pi/

EAPPI – The World Council of Churches’ Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (WCC-EAPPI) was created in 2002 by the World Council of Churches based on a letter and an appeal from local church leaders to create an international presence in the country. There are 25-30 volunteers there on a three month rotation in accompanying, offering protective presence and witness. https://eappi.org/en/about. There are 25-30 volunteers there on a three month rotation in accompanying, offering protective presence and witness. https://eappi.org/en/about

If you would like to find out more you can sign up for EAPPI eye-witness blog. EAPPI work as witnesses helping to relay what is happening https://www.eyewitnessblogs.com/

More information on the EAPPI and a very good short film available at: https://www.quaker.org.uk/our-work/eappi

There is a EAPPI Webinar on 20 September. More details can be found at Webinar on Forced Displacement of Palestinians from East Jerusalem | World Council of Churches (oikoumene.org)

Dover Prayer Service & Westminster Cathedral Mass for World Day of Migrants and Refugees

Mass at Westminster Cathedral, 26 September, 5:30-6:30pm

Bishop Paul McAleenan

The annual International Mass on the World Day of Migrants and Refugees will be celebrated by Bishop Paul McAleenan at Westminster Cathedral, Victoria St, London SW1P 1LT, UK.

All are welcome to attend in person or via the Cathedral livestream.

https://rcdow.org.uk/news/live-streams-from-westminster-cathedral/

Little Amal meets Pope Francis

Amal is visiting Westminster Cathedral on Monday, 25th October 2021, 2-3pm.

Photo: Sarah Loader

Photo: Sarah Loader

Source: Independent Catholic News

On Friday 10th September Little Amal, the 3.5 metre puppet of a nine-year-old Syrian refugee girl who is on an 8,000 km journey from the Syrian border to Manchester, was greeted in the Vatican by Pope Francis.

Pope Francis has been deeply engaged in the plight of refugees over recent years including many who fled war-torn Syria in search of safety. Little Amal was invited to the Vatican where the Pope blessed her and wished her well on her journey in search of her mother. She is an emblem of the millions of displaced refugee children separated from their families. Embodying the urgent message “Don’t forget about us”, her journey shines a light on the stories of the refugee children she represents.

“Among migrants, says Pope Francis, children like Amal constitute the most vulnerable group, because as they face the life ahead of them, they are invisible and voiceless. Amal invites us to open our eyes and hear their voices, so please come to meet her when she is in Rome.”

The Walk, the name given to the long journey of the puppet, consists of more than 100 acts of welcome in 65 villages, towns and cities. Beginning in the city of Gaziantep in south-east Turkey on 27 July and ending in Manchester on 3 November, at each stage of her journey she is being welcomed by artistic and cultural events created by and reflective of the communities she visits.

Addressing Amal as she stood amidst a crowd in St Peter’s Square, Cardinal Michael Czerny, Undersecretary of the Migrants and Refugees section of the Vatican, said: “Amal is great and beautiful. Meeting her is a pleasure, but she reminds us that encountering asylum seekers and vulnerable migrants in our midst requires more than just looking.”

To celebrate the occasion of Amal’s arrival, the diocese of Rome organised a party for hundreds of children from different Roman parishes.

Little Amal is at the heart of The Walk, one of the most ambitious artworks ever created, produced by Good Chance Theatre under the artistic direction of Amir Nizar Zuabi and producers Stephen Daldry, David Lan, Tracey Seaward and Naomi Webb, in association with the Handspring Puppet Company.

A 70+ page Education & Activity pack and Teachers’ Notes in six languages featuring illustrations by Syrian artist Diala Brisly. This can be downloaded from The Walk’s website: www.walkwithamal.org/education/activity-pack/

The Walk brings together celebrated artists, major cultural institutions, community groups and humanitarian organisations as well as municipalities, civic and humanitarian organisations, faith leaders and schools. For a full list of partners please visit: www.walkwithamal.org/friends/

The Walk website contains a donation page which invites the public to help to fund Amal’s journey at £1 per step.

The full programme is available on The Walk’s website: www.walkwithamal.org/events/

NJPN Blog – Season of Creation by Colette Joyce

Colette Joyce is the Justice and Peace Co-ordinator for the Diocese of Westminster. From 9-15 August this summer, she joined the YCCN Relay from London to Oxford, walking for Climate Justice as part of a larger pilgrimage from the G7 in Cornwall to COP26 in Glasgow.

‘Come, ye thankful people, come’ – I have always loved a good harvest festival. This time of year always brings back memories from my Essex childhood of ecumenical services in village churches, displays of pumpkins, apples, fruit, vegetables, tins and packets of every kind, and always, in the middle, a wheatsheaf baked out of bread. And afterwards everything was always distributed to those in need – the children’s home, the residential care home, refugee families. Christians in the UK have long celebrated the produce of the earth in autumn and practiced the tradition of sharing it out.

Since 2015 Pope Francis has called Catholics to join other Christians worldwide in widening their gaze still further at this time of year. From 1st September to 4th October we are invited to celebrate the Season of Creation, a time that includes many of the elements familiar to the tradition of harvest festivals but can now be shared universally across all countries and cultures, each with their own unique patterns of fruitfulness. While still giving gratitude for the great bounty of the earth, what we are being called to celebrate now is the very gift of Creation itself, every plant, tree, animal, insect, bird, fish, river, ocean, mountain and plain.

‘The Earth is the Lord’s and everything on it,’ (Ps 24:1) says the Psalmist. Our Scriptures tell us that we are stewards of creation, receiving a gift from the hand of God that we hold only in trust for our time on earth. No how much we might want to build bigger barns to store away more and more of this gift for ourselves, we can take nothing with us when our life is ended, but will be judged instead on what we leave for the next generation.

Sadly, our earth is in danger so the Season of Creation calls forth from us a new urgency to understand and cherish the eco-systems of our world, that we might also know how to protect it. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Report on 7th August 2021 stated unequivocally that, “Human-induced climate change is already affecting many weather and climate extremes in every region across the globe,” (A3) and, “Global surface temperature will continue to increase until at least the mid-century under all emissions scenarios considered. Global warming of 1.5°C and 2°C will be exceeded during the 21st century unless deep reductions in CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions occur in the coming decades.” (B1)

However, this is also the year when governments and businesses have the opportunity to unite and address these challenges at the COP26 UN Climate Change meeting in Glasgow, 1st-12th November. The actions of millions of people of faith, whether through advocacy, prayer or personal lifestyle changes, will be instrumental in helping the best collective decisions to be made.

This Season of Creation, let us strive to be part of the solution, not the problem, so that future generations, too, will be able to ‘Raise the song of harvest home.’

LINKS

Young Christian Climate Network – www.yccn.uk/
IPPC Report – www.ipcc.ch/report/ar6/wg1/downloads/report/IPCC_AR6_WGI_SPM.pdf
Westminster Justice and Peace – https://westminsterjusticeandpeace.org/season-of-creation-1st-september-4th-october/

Lord Deben speaking tonight at Holy Apostles, Pimlico Catholicism, COP26 and Climate

Lord Deben

Lord Deben

The Rt Hon Lord Deben (John Selwyn Gummer), will be speaking on Catholicism, COP 26 and the Climate this Monday, 6 September, at Holy Apostles Parish, Winchester Street, Pimlico, London SW1V 4LY. A former MP, now member of the House of Lords, Lord Deben is Chairman of the UK’s independent Committee on Climate Change.

The talk begins at 7.15pm. Admission Free. All welcome.

London Churches Refugee Fund Statement on Afghanistan

The trustees of the London Churches Refugee Fund stand in solidarity with the children, women and men of Afghanistan in their deep trouble.

To those who have managed to escape to Britain, far from home, families and lives broken, struggling to survive in an unfamiliar world: we welcome you, praying that you meet with love and compassion from the British people. We pray also for the families and friends left behind, hungry and afraid, and facing a terrifying future and the threat of violent death. Our hearts go out to them.

Now more than ever all refugees need our help, material assistance and prayers. LCRF recognises that all the refugee charities we support in London will have an additional burden to bear as a result of this unfolding human tragedy. They will stand in ever greater need of our twice-yearly grants to help support those destitute asylum seekers who access their services. And we, in our turn, pledge to do all we can to help them.

https://www.help4refugees.co.uk/

Bishop Declan Lang: Jesus will never abandon the people of Afghanistan

Bishop Declan Lang, Bishop of Clifton

Source: Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales

The Chair of the Bishops’ Conference Department of International Affairs has urged Catholics to pray for the people of Afghanistan, while pointing to the work of humanitarian organisations, and efforts to welcome refugees, as signs of hope.

Bishop Declan Lang said:

“As Christians, we are called to be people of hope, even when a situation may appear hopeless.

Today our hope can be placed in those who are working tirelessly for dialogue, justice, and peace in their country.

Our hope can be placed in the humanitarian organisations that are continuing to offer their assistance, and the efforts to welcome and protect refugees fleeing their homes.

Above all we place our hope in the Lord Jesus Christ, to whom we pray in the knowledge that he will never abandon the people of Afghanistan.”

After the Angelus on Wednesday Pope Francis called for dialogue in the country:

“I ask all of you to pray with me to the God of peace so that the clamour of weapons might cease and solutions can be found at the table of dialogue. Only thus can the battered population of that country – men, women, elderly and children – return to their own homes, and live in peace and security, in total mutual respect.”

Westminster Cathedral YCCN reflection on ‘Ecological Conversion’

Ecumenical Climate Prayer Service in the Lady Chapel, Westminster Cathedral, 6th August 2021

Source: Independent Catholic News

Chris Carling gave this reflection during the Young Christian Climate Network relay walkers service in Westminster Cathedral on Friday:

Daniel 3:57-81, 88-89

Song of the Three Young Men in the Furnace

That Canticle from Daniel sums up how God calls us to cooperate with creation to bless the Lord, to give glory and eternal praise to him. This is what God meant when in Genesis he gave dominion over the earth – not that we dominate or destroy the planet but that we care for creation, we till this earth.

However, humanity has sinned, we have turned away from God and we need conversion; ecological conversion. Like our constant spiritual conversion, this is a process not an event, it will last a lifetime. And it is always the work of the Holy Spirit.

In Romans 5:20 we are told ‘where sin increased, grace overflowed all the more’. Right now humanity’s sin against creation and against our creator is indeed increasing. The canticle proclaims ‘Ice and Snow, bless the Lord’ yet we are melting the ice caps and the glaciers retreat. ‘Seas and Rivers, bless the Lord’, yet we fill the waters with plastic. ‘Everything that grows on earth, bless the Lord’ and we cut down the rainforests. Our sin is increasing, but we do not despair because we are Christian and we have hope. We know that grace will overflow.

Grace is indeed already overflowing in this relay and in the YCCN. Young people filled with the Holy Spirit coming together at this ‘decade defining’ moment to share the call to care for creation. Already 300 miles in, they have touched hundreds of communities by their presence, and countless more by their prayer. Grace is overflowing.

That same grace is overflowing in the young Catholics represented here from CAFOD, CARITAS, Jesuit Missions and others. Knowing, like the YCCN, that climate change affects the world’s poorest, they are helping those most affected by the current crisis to take action. CAFOD are doing excellent work lobbying parliament: already 100 MPs have met with Catholic parishes and Christian groups through their ‘parliament in your parish’ initiative. They are also running key petitions to our Prime Minister and Chancellor. Jesuit Missions are taking practical action such as by supporting reforestation efforts by communities in Madagascar. The Holy Spirit is moving in these groups as they respond to the call for ecological conversion.

Our Pope, at 84 may not be young, but he is a wise prophet on this question. This man filled with the Holy Spirit is reaching millions. His encyclical, Laudato Si’ – Praise Be – a letter to the whole world, written six years ago, is becoming ever more relevant by the day. This Diocese of Westminster has heard his call and has just committed to seeking carbon neutrality by 2030. We know the Pope’s voice matters: at COP 21 his words moved nations and were key to the agreement there. We pray, his health permitting, he can come to Glasgow and move nations again.

Because this call to ecological conversion needs to spread. Thinking of our government, it is perhaps easy to despair; new oil fields being considered off the Shetlands, a second private jet for ministers. Yet there is hope, hope in this conference in Glasgow, hope that grace will overflow. Our government, our Prime Minister -married in this very chapel a few months ago- the delegates, we pray they are filled with the Holy Spirit at COP and hear the call to ecological conversion.

Conversion too is a theme on this great Feast of the Transfiguration. I resonate especially with St Peter who, on seeing our Lord transfigured ‘brilliantly white’ before him on the mountain turned to Jesus and said: ‘Rabbi … it is wonderful for us to be here; so let us make three tents, one for you, one for Moses, one for Elijah’. It seems he wanted to stay in the presence of our transfigured Lord.

It too is wonderful for us to see the Lord transfigured on this relay. To see him transfigured in each other, hope transfigured in young Christians responding to the call for ecological conversion. For those lucky enough to have taken this relay into the city or who will take it out again, it is wonderful to see our Lord transfigured in creation. I think of the beauty of Devon and Cornwall and the walkers who will cross the Pennines before eventually reaching the Northumberland Coast. It is indeed wonderful to be here with our transfigured Lord.

However like St Peter, we too must come down from the mountain. He went on to experience his own journey of conversion. Denying our Lord three times during the passion, before experiencing the grace and mercy of the resurrection. He lived his vocation taking the Gospel, the Good news, the message of conversion to the ends of his world, to Antioch and Rome.

As we come away from this relay, how will we respond to the call to spread the message of ecological conversion? How will we cooperate with creation to give glory and eternal praise to God? As humanity’s sin against creation and against our creator increases, how will grace overflow in us?

Chris Carling is a Communications Volunteer with Westminster Justice and Peace Commission. He has recently completed a European Social and Political Studies BA at University College London.

LINKS

Ecumenical Climate Service at Westminster Cathedral welcomes COP26 walkers

Young climate campaigners bring message to London on way to COP26 

YCCN Relay welcomed to Diocese with Climate Prayer Service at Westminster Cathedral

YCCN Relay outside Westminster Cathedral – 6th August 2021

Source: Ellen Teague, Independent Catholic News

Members of the Young Christian Climate Network (YCCN), on pilgrimage from June’s G7 in Cornwall to November’s COP26 in Glasgow, had a great welcome from churches in and around London while passing through these past few days. Services and meetings at St Paul’s Cathedral – where they were greeted by Anglican Bishop John Sentamu – St John’s Waterloo, Lambeth Palace, Wesley’s Chapel, St Martin in the Fields and St James Piccadilly included a gathering for action, prayer, and reflection in Westminster Cathedral.

As around 100 people gathered in the piazza of Westminster Cathedral on Friday afternoon, waiting to go in, the line ups for photos demonstrated both Catholic and ecumenical support for the pilgrimage. Four Westminster Diocesan priests attended, including the current Chair of Westminster Justice and Peace, Fr Dominic Robinson SJ, and former one, Fr Joe Ryan. Alongside the YCCN banners there was Westminster Justice and Peace, CAFOD, Caritas, Pax Christi, Jesuit Mission, Columban JPIC, and ARocha. “What do we want? Climate justice!” echoed round Victoria.

When we walked down to the Lady Chapel we saw that the YCCN boat had been set up on the altar. The relay is accompanied along the whole route by this boat whose sail bears fabrics from climate threatened places – pointing to the hundreds of millions of people whose lives are threatened by sea level rise, cyclones, and other climate related disasters. It sat well alongside the chapel’s decoration where above the altar is the Tree of Life (the Cross) and from it gushes fountains of living water; its branches produce vines and refuge for birds and other living creatures.

Colette Joyce of Westminster Justice and Peace welcomed the congregation, followed by testimonies from Florence, Sophie and Naomi, three of the walkers. They explained the reasons for the relay. Pilgrims are calling on the government to meet and exceed their own climate finance commitments, reinstate the original aid budget and to cancel the debts of poor countries. The pilgrims also seek to raise awareness of COP26 and urged participants to spread the word “to look out for us and we would like as many people to join us as possible”. They were clapped as they stepped down amidst an animated and joyful spirit in the very chapel where Prime Minister Boris Johnson – the primary target for climate lobbying – was married at the end of May.

After a prayer of thanks, taken from the song of the three young men in the furnace in the Book of Daniel, a reflection on “ecological conversion” was given by Chris Carling, a student and Westminster Justice and Peace volunteer. He felt the ecological conversion called for in Laudati Si’ is a process that lasts a lifetime. Despite such challenges as the melting ice caps and polluting the oceans with plastic, “grace will overflow with YCCN”. Then a reflection from Pope Francis calling on each person to “be a guardian of our common home,” and protect all God’s creation, including other species.

We said together the final prayer from CAFOD:

“Inspire us to care for the environment:

to help rebuild lives and communities;

to share in the griefs and anxieties, joys and hopes of all your people,

so that all your creation may flourish. Amen.

The pilgrimage has been very successful in drawing attention to God’s presence in the world, particularly to people and places which are the first victims of the climate crisis. Anglican ordinand Hannah Malcom based her Saturday morning Radio 4 Thought for the Day reflection on it.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p09fsjx5

The young people have travelled through Truro, Exeter, Bristol, Reading and London, being received enthusiastically and offered hospitality by churches of all denominations, and are now heading north towards Glasgow.

Colette Joyce rounded off the service by telling the pilgrims, “you are doing a tremendous job and we will follow you all the way.” More clapping!

YCCN – www.yccn.uk/