Crisis in Yemen – International Day of Action 25th January 2021

BBC Documentary

The BBC has highlighted the on-going disaster in Yemen in a programme on 18 January 2021 which is now available on iPlayer

BBC iPlayer – Yemen: Coronavirus in a War Zone

Justice & Peace Scotland – Crisis in Yemen Event – Sunday 24th January 4.30pm

The conflict in Yemen is one of the world’s worst humanitarian disasters, their suffering driven by UK made weapons.

Ahead of the International Day of Action for Yemen (Monday 25th January) Justice and Peace Scotland invites you to hear more about the devastating links between arms manufactures here and the devastating conflict in Yemen on Sunday 24 January 2021 at 4.30pm.

Speakers include:

Emma Cockburn is the Scotland Coordinator at Campaign Against Arms Trade and is responsible for highlighting Scotland’s contribution to the UK’s arms trade. Emma is currently working on supporting defence diversification projects and arms divestment opportunities across the country. Coming from an anti-nuclear and trade union background, Emma is passionate about empowering activists to create lasting change and is currently involved in creating a reporting detailing the arms industry’s influence in Scotland.”

Rev Daniel Woodhouse a Methodist minister currently serving in the Brighton and Hove Methodist Circuit. Over the past 15 years has been involved in many different forms of anti-arms activism, including a break in at BAE-Systems Warton over the sale of Jets to Saudi Arabia and their use in Yemen.

To book tickets to attend Crisis in Yemen click here: www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/crisis-in-yemen-tickets-135651732985

Racial Justice Sunday Resources – 31st January 2021

Source: Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales

Sunday, 31 January 2021

This year’s Racial Justice Sunday is more important than ever.  The effects of the Coronavirus pandemic, the killing of George Floyd, and the powerful message on fraternity and equality by Pope Francis in Fratelli Tutti speak of the need to actively oppose racism and pursue racial justice with renewed vigour.

Theme

The theme is A Time to Act. Racial issues and inequalities were identified nationally and internationally in 2020 generating awareness, emotion and outrage. In light of this Racial Justice Sunday 2021 is particularly significant. Action is needed to further the cause of racial justice but what can we do? Read a reflection on the theme. Parishes might consider using elements of this reflection for homilies and further discussion.

Resources

As well as a thought-provoking reflection on the theme, the Bishops Conference website has a message from Bishop Paul McAleenan, the Lead Bishop for Racial Justice, and, over the coming days, they will upload a series of videos. There is also a prayer to bring this important work to the Lord.

Prayer

Lord Jesus Christ,
in your ministry
you were approached by people
of many different nations and cultures.
You listened to their cry for help,
treated them with love and compassion,
and brought them healing and wholeness.

In our own time may we provide
to all those who are suffer
the help that they need
and the care that they require.

May we respond to the invitation of the Holy Spirit
to dream of a world made new
where the poor are not forgotten
but are given the opportunity
to live and flourish
with good health and equal prospects.
We ask this in the name of Jesus the Lord.

Amen.

Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons enters into law – Friday 22nd January 2021 – Invitation to a Thanksgiving Service

The Treaty was negotiated at the United Nations in 2017 and supported by 122 states. It will enter into legal force on 22 January 2021, banning nuclear weapons under international law.

THANKSGIVING SERVICE

On Friday 22 January at 11.30am the Network of Christian Peace Organisations will be gathering to celebrate the entry into force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons with a short Thanksgiving Service hosted by the Network of Christian Peace Organisations. It will take place on Zoom and they hope to finish with bells ringing in celebration of nuclear weapons being banned. Click here for the Zoom link.

More details from Christian CND

Statement on the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons – Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales

Peace Sunday 2021 National Liturgy – Saturday 16th January, 6pm on Zoom

Join Pax Christi to reflect on Pope Francis’ World Peace Day Message ‘A Culture of Care as a Path to Peace’.

About this Event

Together we will gather on zoom to pray, share and reflect on Pope Francis’ message ‘A Culture of Care as a Path to Peace’. We will explore what this message calls us to do as peacemakers and how we respond to the call to live nonviolently.

Register with Eventbrite

If you have any questions or problems registering for this event, please contact the office at admin@paxchristi.org.uk

This year has been one of unprecedented and continuing challenges. We are all conscious of the need to restore and rebuild our communities here and around the world, accepting that we need new ways of working and relating to each other.   The Christian message of peace, through reconciliation, justice and nonviolence, can offer hope and direction in these times.  I invite you to seriously consider facilitating a collection for, or making a donation to, the work of Pax Christi at this time as a way to make a practical contribution to continuing the work of peace

Pax Christi National President, Archbishop Malcolm McMahon

Peace Sunday resources can be found here: https://paxchristi.org.uk/peace-sunday-2021/    

Contact: info@paxchristi.org.uk

Catholic Bishops Endorse UN Treaty on Nuclear Weapons, ahead of Peace Sunday – 17th January 2020

Source – Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales

On Friday 22 January 2021 the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons comes into force. This is an historic milestone on the path to nuclear disarmament and an opportunity to refocus on genuine peacebuilding rooted in dialogue, justice, respect for human dignity, and care for our planet.

In setting out the “moral and humanitarian imperative” for complete elimination of nuclear weapons, Pope Francis reminded us that “international peace and stability cannot be based on a false sense of security, on the threat of mutual destruction or total annihilation.” [1]

We urge support for the Treaty and repeat our call for the UK to forsake its nuclear arsenal. The resources spent on manufacturing, maintaining and upgrading these weapons of mass destruction, should be reinvested to alleviate the suffering of the poorest and most vulnerable members of our society, for the Common Good of all peoples. [2]

At the same time, we implore the government to strengthen its arms control regulations, tackling the manufacture and sale of other weaponry, which continues to destroy so many lives throughout the world.

Above all we pray: “Lord, Father of our human family, you created all human beings equal in dignity; pour forth into our hearts a fraternal spirit.

Move us to create healthier societies and a more dignified world, a world without hunger, poverty, violence and war.” [3]

+Declan Lang
Bishop of Clifton
Chair, International Affairs Department, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales

+William Nolan
Bishop of Galloway
Commission for Justice and Peace, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Scotland

+William Kenney
Auxiliary Bishop of Birmingham

[1] Message to the UN conference to negotiate a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination
(23 March 2017)

[2] Statement on nuclear weapons
(4 August 2020)

[3] Fratelli Tutti

Researching the Cancel the Debt Campaign

Westminster Justice & Peace Volunteer, Anne Tran, has been researching the latest developments in the campaign to cancel the debts of developing countries. She also helped to create a collage of Justice & Peace member photos, making our own contribution to the Cancel the Debt message. In this article she gives her own assessment of the campaign. Anne is a third-year International Politics student.

The Jubilee Debt Campaign focuses on pressuring the UK Government to cancel the debt, on what is owed by developing countries, in this case the pandemic has made the situation worse. Since the coronavirus, there is a greater need to drop the debt. Countries are now faced with the decision between paying back the debt or responding to the Covid health crisis. This demonstrates the dilemma faced by poor countries and their financial situation, that prevents them from exercising their own freedom to choose and attend matters that best suits their needs. In response, this led to supporters from different organisations and religious groups such as Christian Aid, CAFOD, Jubilee Debt Campaign, Oxfam, ONE and Global Justice Now vocalising their support by encouraging online petitions and releasing supporting statements. 

The Catholic church has shown their support, especially with CAFOD and their initiative to promote the campaign through gathering hundreds of images of supporters holding up signs saying ‘Cancel the Debt’, along with an uploaded video with the members of the public and other organisations expressing their solidarity to cancel the Debt. The Justice and Peace Commission Team has also contributed towards this, with the staff members participating in the picture campaign, to help put the campaign forward. Outside of the Catholic realm, Oxfam has provided research in response to the campaign by outlining suggestions for world organisations and private lenders to take certain initiatives to attempt to alleviate the debt.

However, there is indication that the Jubilee Debt Campaign at the moment is currently stagnant. My reasoning follows: In April G20 Finance Ministers agreed to suspend debt for 77 countries for the rest of the year (saving $12Billion) and also encourage the initiative towards private lenders (also saving countries $8 Billion) with the Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI). But, unfortunately, over the past few months the campaign and G20 no longer became a topic of interest. Instead it was overshadowed by the United States and China’s strained relationship and lack of involvement. This hindered the development that was made in April with the campaign. Consequently, G20 then retracted their statement and revised their initial stance and became more reluctant to take on the debt suspension. Instead, they have now stated that countries that wish to cancel the debt can follow through at their own expense. However, the hidden element of pressure, stress, or lack of emphasis on the importance of the liability in the first released statement, lessened the weight of importance compared to before. This made the campaign less effective as the months passed by and no longer became an issue of interest. But not all is lost. In October, G20 made another announcement that they have chosen to extend the suspension of the debt repayments for 6 months to provide additional support, after meeting with the group’s finance ministers and central bank governors, providing more hope towards the campaign.

The Financial Times have also provided an update on the campaign in an article by Jonathan Wheatley and David Pilling on 12 October 2020. They have highlighted the importance of the necessary aid that West African countries are needing at the moment, although countries like Kenya have stated that the campaign may prolong the country’s debt repayment. Ghana has stressed upon the responsibility as a former British Colony to help them with the debt along with other western states. This outcry has led to organisations like the Jubilee Debt Campaign, Westminster Justice & Peace and CAFOD to strengthen their support by continuing to release current updates on the Jubilee Debt Campaign and promoting the cause. We have seen the success of the support received from examples above where the petition may have had a moment of pause due to the uncertain political climate, but we can clearly see the long-term benefits from all the different organisations work in their constant advocacy, that encourages and moves the campaign forward. This has been evident through G20’s recent October announcement, demonstrating progress that has been made so far with the help of these organisations.

My research on the Jubilee Debt campaign regarding the petition has led me to believe that crisis management regarding any type of social, economic or health issue is a concern for all. Prior to the pandemic, or after, these issues remain important and still affect the lives of different individuals around the world. It is unfortunate that at times like this there are no direct solutions. But through researching on The Jubilee Debt Campaign, it has allowed me to gain a deeper insight into the different realities that developing countries face. There is no straight answer that can solve all the problems proposed, but I do believe a difference can be made. I have to credit the different organisations and groups for their sense of injustice that have led the campaign to a level of success with G20’s response and public awareness. However more can be done, as demonstrated above from the various examples, publicity and petition signatures are not enough to combat the World Politics from overshadowing the aims of the debt campaign. This highlights a serious issue today, especially on the importance and relevance on certain issues proposed, that are overtaken by the political tension among powerful states. Whilst challenges are ongoing battles, developing countries are confronted with daily discernments of life-threatening ultimatums. Overall, we must continue to create awareness and provide more informed decisions as a common goal to help these countries in need.

Westminster Justice & Peace advocates call on the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, and the G20 countries to Cancel the Debt of developing countries and restructure those repayments towards healthcare to beat coronavirus.

Sources

16 April 2020 Jubilee Debt Campaign – https://jubileedebt.org.uk/blog/debt-suspension-agreed-for-low-income-countries-to-help-fight-coronavirus

11 August 2020 CAFOD Blog on History of Debt Campaigning and Call for Photos – https://blog.cafod.org.uk/2020/08/11/cafods-debt-campaigning-over-the-years/

12 October 2020 Financial Times – https://www.ft.com/content/edb18d34-844b-43b5-a78a-fec73f1d0583

14 October 2020 Jubilee Debt Campaign – https://jubileedebt.org.uk/press-release/reaction-to-g20-debt-suspension-and-common-framework

Christian Aid Petition – https://www.christianaid.org.uk/campaigns/debt-jubilee-petition

Global Justice Now Petition – https://act.globaljustice.org.uk/coronavirus-drop-debt

Bishop calls for ‘shifting of mindset’ after migrant family drowns in Channel

From: Catholic Herald Staff Reporter

Bishop calls for 'shifting of mindset' after migrant family drowns in Channel

On Wednesday, Bishop Paul McAleenan lamented the deaths of four family members who drowned trying to make their way across the English Channel.

Rasoul Iran-Nejad and Shiva Mohammad Panahi, both aged 35, died alongside their children Anita, aged 9, and Armin, aged 6, as they made their way from France to the UK on Tuesday.

The Kurdish-Iranian family’s 15-month-old baby, Artin, has yet to be found, whilst fifteen other migrants on the boat were rescued and taken to hospital.

Bishop McAleenan, auxiliary bishop of Westminster, said we should be “united” in our response to the tragedy:

“All who value human life, whatever their position on migrants and refugees, will be united in sorrow following yesterday’s tragedy in the Channel,” he said in a statement.

“Immediate thoughts should be with the adults and children who died, their families wherever they are in the world, and their companions who will remember forever what they witnessed. It is hoped that no one will want to make a mere political point because of the incident.”

McAleenan, Chair of the Office for Migration Policy, said that such unity is needed to respond politically to the challenge of unsafe migrant crossings:

“What is truly needed is a meeting of minds. That will require a shifting of mindset on the part of those who set the rules, and the pursuit of heartless profiteers to ensure that no one feels compelled or encouraged to risk their life, or that of their children, in a dangerous craft on the open sea.”

In a statement on Tuesday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said his thoughts were with the victims and he promised to tackle the smugglers responsible for the crossings.

“My thoughts are with the loved ones of those who tragically lost their lives in the Channel today. We have offered the French authorities every support as they investigate this terrible incident and will do all we can to crack down on the ruthless criminal gangs who prey on vulnerable people by facilitating these dangerous journeys.”

Back in July, Bishop McAleenan responded critically to Britain and France’s joint Declaration of Intent to establish an Operational Research Unit that would target the criminal gang networks behind migrant smuggling.

The bishop said that the two countries should prioritise trying to “eradicate the underlying reasons why these same people are willing to risk their lives in the open sea.”

“I would like to see the details of the agreement between the UK and France, that would indicate how they understand and perceive what is taking place in the English Channel,” he continued.

“Surely two countries which pride themselves on being progressive and enlightened will see that the welfare of those who are destitute is vital. Protection of people should be foremost in their thinking.”

Featured Image: Bishop Paul McAleenan, centre, meets charity workers and volunteers helping refugees in Dover, England, Sept. 15, 2020. Credit: Mazur/cbcew.org.uk.

Campaigners Disappointed by G20 Meeting

Campaigners outside Parliament representing CAFOD, Christian Aid, Global Justice Now, Jubilee Debt Campaign and Oxfam call on G20 Finance Ministers meeting on 14th October 2020 to Cancel the Debt

Source: CAFOD / Independent Catholic News

Against a backdrop of a world reeling under the coronavirus pandemic – in spite of appeals from international humanitarian aid agencies and campaigners – in their virtual meeting today, the G20 finance ministers failed to cancel any developing world debt.

Dario Kenner, CAFOD’s Sustainable Economic Development analyst commented: “Private creditors are profiteering off the backs of the world’s poorest people. Any debt relief that developing countries might receive from donor governments is only snatched away again by private creditors who continue to demand repayments.

“Private creditors like BlackRock, JP Morgan and HSBC have failed to do the right thing so it’s now time for G20 governments to compel them to cancel the debts of developing countries. This will free up money that is urgently needed to tackle the health and economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.”

LINKS

CAFOD Briefing paper: https://cafod.org.uk/About-us/Policy-and-research/Private-Sector/Under-the-radar

Bishop asks UK to take up Fratelli Tutti’s call opposing racism

Bishop Paul McAleenan

Article from Independent Catholic News

The lead Catholic Bishop for Migrants and Refugees has called on all people in the UK to take up Pope Francis’ call in Fratelli Tutti to oppose racism in all its manifestations.

Speaking on behalf of the Bishops’ Conference at the start of Hate Crime Awareness week, Bishop Paul McAleenan said: “In his latest encyclical, Fratelli Tutti, Pope Francis puts before us a radical vision of human togetherness, addressing fundamental issues such as migration, peace building and the economy. One of the challenges he mentions is the need to tackle racism, warning that: ‘a readiness to discard others finds expression in vicious attitudes that we thought long past, such as racism, which retreats underground only to keep re-emerging. Instances of racism continue to shame us, for they show that our supposed social progress is not as real or definitive as we think.’

“Our own society is not immune from this pattern of behaviour. In recent years we have witnessed a disturbing resurgence of hate speech and hate crimes. These take many different forms including Islamophobia, Antisemitism, hatred towards migrants and refugees, and hostility against Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities.

“During this Hate Crime Awareness Week we should recommit ourselves to actively opposing racism in all its manifestations. In the words of Pope Francis: ‘Let us dream, then, as a single human family, as fellow travellers sharing the same flesh, as children of the same earth which is our common home, each of us bringing the richness of his or her beliefs and convictions, each of us with his or her own voice, brothers and sisters all.'”

LINK

Fratelli Tutti encyclical – summary and link to full text: www.indcatholicnews.com/news/40597