Join others from the Dioceses of Westminster and Southwark for an online meeting to plan and discuss a Central London Catholic contribution to London Climate Action Week (26th June – 4th July) and the Season of Creation (1st September – 4th October) as we build up to the critical UN climate conference, COP26, in Glasgow (1st – 12th November 2021)
Art? Crafts? Drama? Prayer? Workshops? Walks? Speakers? Conferences? Liturgy? What do we need to do to demonstrate our care and concern for people and planet that promotes climate ambition on the part of the UK government and other world leaders? Come and help us do our bit to save the planet this summer.
‘Living our vocation to be protectors of God’s handiwork is essential to a life of virtue; it is not an optional or a secondary aspect of our Christian experience.’
Participants at the Care of Creation Monday Lunchtime Briefings for London and the South East, convened by Westminster Justice & Peace Co-ordinator, Colette Joyce, joined the Cathedral prayer vigil by Zoom as part of their regular meeting on Monday 12th April 2021.
Catholics For Christian Climate Action held prayer protests outside Westminster and Cardiff cathedrals asking for stronger leadership on climate crisis from Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales as they prepare for Spring Plenary Meeting.
They were praying for the Catholic Church to take a more active lead in speaking out and demonstrating the urgency with which the UK needs to act on the climate and ecological emergency ahead of COP26.
There is growing evidence that the IPCC carbon neutral target of 2050 is too late to keep global temperature rise below 1.5 degrees, above which there will be dire consequences and terrible and widespread suffering.
Those taking part in today’s actions were seeking an immediate commitment by Church organisations to divest from fossil fuels and funders of fossil fuel projects, with a plan to do so by the end of 2022, as well as advocacy for a national commitment to net zero carbon emissions by 2030. They were also asking the Church to advocate for the Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill, which now has the support of 106 Members of Parliament, as a measure that would ensure that the UK contributes fairly to climate mitigation consistent with limiting global temperature increases to 1.5°C. Participants took the opportunity to pray in thanks for the positive actions that have already been taken by the Bishops Conference and some Diocese, religious orders and other Catholic organisations as a foundation upon which to build.
Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster was not in central London at that time of the protest but said: “I assure you that every bishop in England and Wales is fully aware of the issues to which you are drawing attention and have been addressing them, in various ways, for some time.”
Melanie Nazareth, mother of four and a member of Catholics for Christian Climate Action, said: “The only way to avoid even more dangerous warming is for countries to stop emitting CO2 and the need for action grows ever more urgent and ever more difficult. I want our Catholic leaders in this country to speak out more about what the UK must do to protect our brothers and sisters in more vulnerable parts of the world. This is a time of Kairos, the time of choosing for the world and for us. The voices of our Church leaders could make a huge difference.”
Columban sister Kate Midgley said: “I am praying outside Westminster Cathedral because there are some things that need to be shouted from the housetops! We are in a climate and ecological emergency. As Christians, as Catholics, we believe that the whole earth is a miracle of God’s creation and that is being held in being in every moment by God. We of all people need to be at the forefront of calling for the protection of our earth. So, I am praying that our bishops will be inspired.”
Colette Joyce commented, “We add our voices in support of Catholics for Christian Climate Action and commend the work of the Bishops in helping the Church to take urgent action in the face of the current climate emergency. We call on them to support every parish community to adopt best practice with regard to environmental care in the coming years.”
Activists from Justice & Peace, CAFOD, the Laudato Si’ Animators, religious orders and other organisations from the five Dioceses of Arundel & Brighton, Brentwood, Portsmouth, Southwark and Westminster (and a few from elsewhere!) meet every Monday 1.00-1.45pm for mutual prayer, information sharing, discussion, action-planning and encouragement on climate and environmental issues. Everyone is welcome to join us or to sign up for the weekly Care of Creation newsletter.
For more details call Colette Joyce 07593 434 905 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Catholics for Christian Climate Action are the Catholics within Christian Climate Action, a community of Christians supporting each other to take meaningful action in the face of imminent and catastrophic anthropogenic climate breakdown. Inspired by Christ, guided by the Holy Spirit and following the example of social justice movements of the past, they engage in acts of public witness, nonviolent direct action and civil disobedience to urge those in power to make the changes needed.
The Rt Hon Lord Deben (John Selwyn Gummer), chair of the UK’s committee on climate change, told an online gathering this week that Catholics must take climate change more seriously, following the inspirational lead of Pope Francis in Laudato Si’ and in the context of November’s UN Climate talks in Glasgow, scheduled for 1-12 November.
His talk, ‘Climate Change: The Gospel Imperative’, was organised by the Catholic Union on 23 March. “The Church has got it right on this” he said, “and I am missionary about it.” He told participants he used Laudato Si’ insights even when talking to secular audiences and that they were very appreciative. “Pope Francis has brought us back to the Gospel imperatives, particularly to help those less fortunate,” he said.
“Catholics must be clear”, he said, that “action on climate change is part of Catholic Social Teaching” and “this battle is for all of us.” He urged Catholics to bring the issue “into our prayers and our liturgy,” and preach the gospel “in a way that is relevant”.
He felt young people understand our duty to the environment, and we must support their desire not to inherit a world that is impoverished. “All stewards hand back something better and that is our duty” he said, “our duty as Catholics too.”
Lord Deben urged participants to remember that, “climate change makes extreme weather and pandemics more likely.”
Church leaders across seven denominations have issued a statement following the publication of the UK Government’s integrated review of foreign and defence policies.
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference Chair of the International Affairs Department, Bishop Declan Lang, and the Lead Bishop on Peace and Disarmament Issues, Bishop William Kenney, have signed the statement.
The full text follows
“The Government’s decision in the integrated review of defence, security and foreign policy to increase the number of Trident nuclear warheads the UK can stockpile by more than 40 percent is a retrograde step that will not make any of us safer.
“Our Trident submarines already carry warheads that in total have an explosive yield equivalent to hundreds of the bombs that were dropped on Hiroshima. It is immoral that the UK government is committing resources, which could be spent on the common good of our society, to stockpiling even more.
“Over the last 50 years, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty has restricted the increase in the number of nuclear weapons worldwide as well as the number of new nuclear-armed states. This announcement puts those gains in jeopardy and weakens collective action on non-proliferation.
“Progress on reducing the threat from nuclear weapons will come through dialogue, diplomacy and principled action. The Government’s announcement today will complicate rather than aid this process.
“The entry into force of the UN Treaty on the Prohibition in of Nuclear Weapons is an encouraging development. As people of faith, we join with millions across the world who are working towards the elimination of nuclear arsenals.
“Living up to our responsibilities under the Non Proliferation Treaty would be a step towards realising that vision. We believe that ‘Global Britain’ should strive for peaceful and cooperative international relationships, and joint endeavour on climate change, global poverty and other challenges. This announcement takes us in a worrying and wholly wrong direction.”
The following Christian leaders signed the statement:
Most Revd and Rt Hon Stephen Cottrell Archbishop of York
Most Revd John Davies Archbishop of Wales
Revd Clare Downing Moderator of General Assembly, United Reformed Church
Bob Fyffe General Secretary, Churches Together in Britain and Ireland
Bishop William Kenney Auxiliary Bishop of Birmingham International Affairs Department, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales
Bishop Declan Lang Bishop of Clifton, Chair, International Affairs Department Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales
Carolyn Lawrence Vice-President of the Methodist Church
Revd David Mayne Moderator of the Baptist Union Council
Paul Parker Recording Clerk, Quakers in Britain
Revd Dr Joanna Penberthy Bishop of St Davids
Revd Richard Teal President of the Methodist Church
ondon Churches Refugee Fund and Church Times present an evening in support of refugees. With keynote speaker Fr Timothy Radcliffe OP, actor Alfred Enoch, and representatives from LCRF and Migrants Organise.
Register below for a free ticket. The event will be broadcast live online on Thursday 25 March.
Fr Timothy Radcliffe OP, keynote speaker Dominican friar, writer & former Master of the Order of Preachers
Zrinka Bralo CEO Migrants Organise (organising with refugees for power, dignity & justice)
Revd Dr Andrew Prasad Moderator Thames North Synod URC; former Executive Secretary Council for World Mission; LCRF Patron
Alfred Enoch Actor (Harry Potter, Red, How To Get Away With Murder) & Patron of London Churches Refugee Fund
Revd Chris Brice Chair of London Churches Refugee Fund
As a Diocese, we celebrated the award with an Online Celebration & Social on Friday 5th March, 11am, during Fairtrade Fortnight 2021. About 60 people from parishes around the Diocese gathered on Zoom to watch a video recorded by Cardinal Vincent Nichols to mark the occasion, with guest speakers congratulating all those involved, as well as encouraging those Parishes not yet signed up to complete the Award.
Bishop Nicholas Hudson, lead bishop for Justice & Peace, opened the gathering in prayer and offered his own congratulations to everyone involved, thanking CAFOD Westminster, Caritas Westminster and Justice & Peace Westminster for their collaboration in promoting Fairtrade principles and arranging the celebration.
In his message, Cardinal Vincent Nichols congratulated the 108 Westminster Parishes that have committed to Fairtrade principles and announced that Westminster RC Diocese is now the first Fairtrade Diocese in the Country. The Cardinal also invited the remaining parishes in the Diocese to seek to become Fairtrade Parishes. This commitment requires a parish to offer Fairtrade coffee and tea when served at Parish meetings and to promote Fairtrade at least once a year in the parish. For information on how to apply visit the CAFOD website: https://cafod.org.uk/Campaign/Fairtrade
Everyone brought along a Fairtrade product to show in a screenshot photograph to be shared in the media afterwards and we all enjoyed spotting the many different types of Fairtrade items on display…
We were reminded that, with the end of lockdown in sight, now is the perfect time for parishes to check their tea, coffee, sugar and biscuit supplies and stock-up with Fairtrade goodies in preparation for permission to serve refreshments after Mass resuming on 12th April!
Invited speakers included Adam Gardner who has worked for The Fairtrade Foundation for more than a decade. He said, “Speaking to Barbara Kentish (former J & P Co-ordinator) and Maria Elena Arana (CAFOD) and others over the years, I’ve got just a sense of how much hard work and dedication, events, conversation, discussion and prayer, too, has gone on by so many across the Parishes and at the Diocese level so massive congratulations! There is an African proverb that says, ‘If you want to fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.’ This has been a true team effort and truly about going far.”
Fr Joe Ryan, former Chair of the Westminster Justice and Peace Commission, described his own wake-up call forty years ago as to where his tea and coffee came from and the origins of the decision to become a Fairtrade Diocese. Every purchase we make here can have a huge impact on others who are producing goods many miles away overseas. “Even a little can mean a lot.”
Anne Lamont, a parishioner at St John Vianney’s and volunteer in the Justice & Peace Office, told how Fairtrade had become an integral part of the Confirmation programme, which has helped to embed Fairtrade thinking and activity in the Parish. Young people in the Confirmation group hold an annual Big Brew Weekend with stalls, a raffle and Fairtrade teas, coffees and cakes which they make themselves.
Hilda McCafferty from Our Lady of Fatima, White City, in West London, reminded the meeting of the importance of Fairtrade and sustainability in the fashion industry, which was illustrated in her parish by a Fairtrade Fashion Show, also run by the Confirmation Group.
Among the other parishes in attendance were: St Bede’s – Croxley Green, Our Lady of Lourdes – Acton, St Joseph’s – Bunhill Row, St Marks – Hemel West, Our Lady of the Assumption and St Gregory – Warwick Street, Our Lady Immaculate and St Andrew – Hitchin, and St Edmund’s – Edmonton.
St Mary’s, Hampstead, was represented by Santana Luis who writes, “Thank you for organising the Fairtrade presentation event and asking me to speak on my journey with the Fairtrade movement for the last fifteen years. It has been a great achievement for our Diocese and a wonderful celebration to be part of the World’s largest Fairtrade city. We are now leading an example for other boroughs, parishes, deaneries, dioceses and other faith communities in the UK to be part of the Fairtrade movement, especially as this year’s themes are focusing on sustainability, circular economy, climate crisis and meeting the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals).”
Tony Sheen from CAFOD thanked everyone for their participation, including Parishes who have demonstrated their commitment to Fairtrade as part of the Live Simply Award. He encouraged Parishes who have not yet started this journey to consider signing up. The Award requires us to look at our lifestyles as individuals and as Parish communities, seeking to live more simply, sustainably and in solidarity with those living in poverty. Find out more: https://cafod.org.uk/Campaign/Livesimply-award
Finally, the meeting was closed in prayer by the current Chair of Westminster Justice & Peace, Fr Dominic Robinson SJ.
All are welcome to join the Diocesan Justice and Peace Co-ordinator, Colette Joyce, at these informal chats for North London and Hertfordshire Catholics (and our friends) to share, discuss and discern priorities for 2021 on subjects such as responding to the pandemic, the climate crisis, racial justice, homelessness, the nuclear weapons ban, Fairtrade and much more…
First time participants, seasoned campaigners, parishioners, religious, deacons & priests welcome.
The Central London group has scheduled a follow-on meeting specifically to discuss ideas for a Catholic Climate Festival in September 2021, the Season of Creation, when many other groups are arranging festivals under the auspices of The Climate Coalition as part of the run-up to the UN Climate Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, 1-12 November 2021. Everyone is welcome to attend this initial meeting who lives within travelling distance of the Westminster Cathedral/Houses of Parliament area and is interested in getting involved. Facilitated by Colette Joyce and John Woodhouse from Laudato Si’ Animators, UK.
Barbara Kentish recalls how the award was achieved in the Diocese of Westminster
Obtaining a Diocesan Fairtrade Certificate has been a long struggle, led, we are proud to say, by hundreds of valiant parishioners of the 200+ parishes of Westminster. It is a wonderful staging post in the campaign for justice in world trade.
When the Westminster Justice and Peace Commission looked at the possible goals we should adopt when I started in 2006, Fairtrade seemed an easy one: surely all parishes would want to serve Fairtrade tea and coffee if it helped poor farmers in developing countries to get a better deal? We only needed half the parishes in the Diocese to sign up to reach the criteria for the award. CAFOD was a founding member of the Fairtrade Foundation and was represented on our Commission, so there was an excellent base on which to build the work. After that we would move on to think about world peace, the refugee crisis, Middle East conflict! The campaign took a little longer than we thought…
Each parish needed first to agree officially to apply for Fairtrade (FT) status. A minimum requirement was to serve FT-brand tea and coffee at parish functions; then to promote FT in other ways, such as stalls, talks or films, and finally to hold an event once a year during Fairtrade Fortnight.
We emailed Fairtrade promotional materials, wrote letters, sent application forms to be returned to CAFOD and organized a diocesan steering group (thank you to those early hopeful few!) In the first 18 months we rejoiced that over a quarter of parishes had signed up straight away! Just another 50 or so to reach our magic target of 51% of the then 214 parishes. We blithely assumed we were nearly there.
Then came an intensive round of phone calls to parishes: would they consider becoming a Fairtrade parish? Telephone campaigners included our youth workers Peter, Dervla, then Edmund. St John Vianney Justice & Peace parish lead, Mariantha Fomenky, and her son Joe, made a huge contribution. Office administrator, Amy, created the Fairtrade ‘Spoons’ resource for Confirmation groups, while Anne Lamont, catechist and teacher at St John Vianney parish, created a wealth of materials for parishes and schools, in handy packs. Fairtrade is now a regular feature of many Confirmation programmes and other youth activities in the Diocese.
Years passed, volunteers came and went, additions to the certificated parishes gradually sank to a trickle, seeming to stick at around 10 or 15 short of the number required. Lists became confused, contradictory, and each new volunteer would begin with reorganizing them! Objections to the cause were varied: some churches didn’t serve tea and coffee, some didn’t see the point of signing up or didn’t have the time.
But many faithful parishes continued promoting Fairtrade, and one can think of inspiring people such as Angela Sterlini in St Edmund’s, Edmonton, Angela Wolestonecroft from St Teresa’s, Borehamwood, and Marion Hill in Our Lady and the Rosary, Haverstock Hill, who run splendid Fairtrade stalls, and the wonderful Sister Ellen Corbett (RIP) from St Ignatius, Stamford Hill, who ran the stall in the parish and attended every Fairtrade event in the calendar.
As Coordinator, I organized a diocesan Fairtrade Event every year, to maintain or rekindle enthusiasm. A Diocesan tea party at Westminster, a conference at West Green, a celebration at Welwyn Garden City, even a Fairtrade and Brexit teach-in at Holborn, were all part of the ongoing effort. A highlight was a film show in ‘posh’ Riverside Studios, Hammersmith, for Confirmation groups, organised by Suddie Komba-Kono, attended by TV star Stacey Dooley, and black theologian Robert Beckford. A gathering at Holy Apostles, Pimlico, in 2014 represented another high point, when our speakers included the charismatic Catholic Director of Divine Chocolate, Sophi Tranchell, and Fairtrade Director Michael Gidney. With Bishop John Arnold in the chair (he was the first diocesan bishop to endorse Fairtrade), hopes were running high and we thought we might reach the target that year. Sadly, not yet!
Flagging spirits needed a boost, and CAFOD Westminster stepped in to give more support, with Tony Sheen’s great organizing skills and powers of persuasion. CAFOD volunteer, Frances Halliday, soon sorted out our muddled lists. Numbers rose, and when I retired in 2018, we were only a handful of parishes short of our target. Miraculous to say, at last we were over the bar, and current Chair, Fr Dominic Robinson SJ, obtained the agreement of the Cardinal to apply for our Diocesan status. I was so envious in around 2011 when the Anglican Diocese of London received its certificate in a wonderful ceremony in St Paul’s Cathedral, where one of the priests wore a banana suit! Soon, I thought, soon, it will be our turn! Thanks to all our wonderful parish Fairtraders, it is finally our turn to celebrate. Maybe not in a cathedral, but no less joyfully (with or without banana suits!)
The story of course does not stop here. The developing world struggles still to get a fair deal at the trading table. Tony Sheen, CAFOD Westminster Community Participation Co-ordinator, explains why we must continue:
“When we buy products with the Fairtrade Mark, we support farmers and workers in the developing world as they work to improve their lives and their communities. The Fairtrade Mark means that particular ingredients in the product have been produced by small-scale farmer organisations or plantations that meet Fairtrade social, economic and environmental standards. The standards include protection of workers’ rights and the environment, payment of the Fairtrade Minimum Price and an additional Fairtrade Premium to invest in business or community projects.”
CAFOD is encouraging more parishes to sign up for the parish award.
Tony says, “It is quite simple for a Parish to apply. It involves a commitment for your parish to have Fairtrade refreshments such as tea and coffee available at Parish meetings and to hold one activity per year promoting Fairtrade in your Parish. If your Parish currently doesn’t have Fairtrade status we hope that you might help it to achieve this? Would it be possible to make your Parish Fairtrade?”
Many more challenges lie ahead for the Diocese in tackling World Peace and International Justice, but this Fairtrade Fortnight, 2021, we can pause for a moment in the journey to celebrate and renew ourselves – with Fairtrade refreshments, of course!
FAIRTRADE DIOCESE AWARD – CELEBRATION IN FAIRTRADE FORTNIGHT
The Diocese of Salford has launched a new research project that Bishop John Arnold hopes will spearhead the efforts of the Catholic community in England and Wales to tackle the current ecological crisis, by paving the way to a sustainable, carbon neutral future. The research team will collaborate with other dioceses, parish communities, industry experts, theologians and other groups to develop carbon accounting and environmental management tools that will lead to an implementation framework for use in other dioceses.
The two-year pilot project aims to involve over 100 parishes and over 200 schools, alongside religious communities and other parts of the diocese. The study is part of the church’s response to what Pope Francis has described as the ‘cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.’ It will reduce the diocese’s carbon footprint, improve energy efficiency and generation, and facilitate greater involvement from parishioners and local communities.
Dr Emma Gardner, Head of Environment at Salford Diocese, said: “We need to take urgent action today to ‘protect our common home’. This project will help provide ways to address the ecological crisis through practical solutions and positive change. The Diocese of Salford is looking forward to working with other dioceses and organisations so we can play our part together.”
In 2019, the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales set out their commitment to engage in this urgent issue in their statement ‘Guardians of God’s Creation’. In the document, they pledged to avoid the worst consequences of this ecological crisis by engaging now and over the next decade on what they described as the ‘long path to renewal.’ Bishop John Arnold has responsibility for environmental matters at the Bishops’ Conference, making his own Diocese of Salford the perfect place to begin.
The Right Reverend John Arnold, Bishop of Salford, said: “The Catholic Church recognizes the ecological crisis we are living through and is keen to play its part in delivering the UK net-zero strategy. We are looking to deepen our understanding of how to put a Catholic diocese on the path to carbon neutrality, and this collaborative research will tell us what needs to be done and what structures must be put in place to support this. I hope that the findings will assist organisations and institutions beyond the Church both here and abroad.”
Salford Diocese is collaborating on the project with St Mary’s University, Twickenham, and the Laudato Si’ Research Institute, Oxford, and is supported by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference. Other partners including the Tyndall Centre at the University of Manchester will be involved as the project progresses.
In December, the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, vowed to cut the UK’s carbon emissions by at least 68% from what they were in 1990 by the end of 2030.
Dr Roland Daw, the project’s lead researcher at St Mary’s University, Twickenham, said: “This work is about collective action that empowers the whole Church with the understanding, technologies and financing mechanisms it needs to speak to this urgent crisis. Statistics and doomsday predictions have not been enough to change behaviours in the face of this urgent crisis, so faith groups have as important a part to play in educating their communities as any others in society.”
The Vatican has been promoting awareness of the Pope’s ecological message contained in his encyclical Laudato Si’ and has called for communities around the world to become environmentally sustainable. Pope Francis has called for an ‘ecological conversion,’ whereby the “effects of encounter with Jesus Christ become evident in our relationship with the world around us.”
The project will take an ‘integral ecology’ approach at all levels, meaning that it will not just be limited to questions of carbon, but will consider wider social and environmental sustainability objectives. Integral ecology is a way of looking at the world that connects at depth our human life with God, each other and the natural world. By doing so it affirms human dignity and the special worth of each and every creature that God has made. It therefore informs our action at different levels, the individual, the family and society.
Celia Deane Drummond, Director of the Laudato Si’ Research Institute, Campion Hall, said: “This is an exciting project that has the potential to pave the way for a systematic transition to more environmentally sustainable practices in the Catholic Church. The Laudato Si’ Research Institute is delighted to have the opportunity to support this pilot study as a partner, and to work collaboratively to address one of the most pressing ecological issues of our time.”
The Laudato Si’ Research Institute in Oxford will help develop this understanding of integral ecology as applied to sustainability and carbon neutrality.
The Diocese of Salford is the first Catholic diocese to appoint a full time environmental lead, responsible for environmental strategy and coordination of the ‘Laudato Si’ Centre’ at Wardley Hall, as well as other projects and initiatives around the Diocese and further afield.