1st November – Candlelit Prayer for COP26 and Other Climate Events

23 October, 11am-5pm – The Tablet Autumn Festival, On the Road to COP26. £23.00. Speakers include Ellen Teague, Lorna Gold, Austen Ivereigh, Andy Atkins, Christine Allen and Gordon Brown. Bookings

23 October – Pre-COP Vigil, Anglican Southwark Cathedral, 2.00-3.45pm. You are encouraged to make a pilgrimage on foot, by bike, by public transport, however you wish, from your place of worship – perhaps in a group – to Southwark Cathedral, London Bridge, SE1 9DA, arriving between 2 – 3pm. Bring a Letter for Creation to pass on to the faith leaders involved in COP. There will be interactive prayer stations from 2pm. At 3.20 we will come together for a time of prayer and reflection with singer Samantha Lindo and St Leonard’s Eco Church Community, ending with a blessing by the Bishop of Kingston. Register to attend in person:
https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/prayer-vigil-for-cop26-climate-conference-tickets-152732774841 
or Option to watch on livestream here

30 October, 2.30pm – Gathering of the different climate pilgrimages and walking through the Glasgow city: YCCN Relay, Camino to COP and international groups from Germany and Sweden. Meet at McLennan Arch, Glasgow Green. In person.

31 October, 2-3pm – Interfaith Scotland Service for COP26  https://interfaithglasgow.org/cop26/

1-12 November UN Climate Conference COP 26 in Glasgow UK COP26

1 November – 6pm (after 5.30pm Mass). Candle-lit Procession from Westminster Cathedral to Farm Street Church to pray for success of COP26. Organised by London Jesuit Centre, Jesuit Missions and Westminster Justice & Peace. Bring a candle you can carry safely. Some led lights will be provided. Refreshments at Farm Street Church on arrival. Sign up: https://londonjesuitcentre.org/cop-26-candle-lit-procession

3-6 November – Jesuit Missions Pilgrimage Edinburgh to Glasgow. From Sacred Heart Church, Edinburgh, to SEC Centre, Glasgow. For 18-35s. Pilgrimage Chaplain – Fr Nick King SJ   https://jesuitmissions.org.uk/cop-26-pilgrimage/

5 November 11am – 24 Hours for the Climate – Online Vigil Livestreamed from Glasgow. Led by Justice and Peace Scotland https://www.24hoursfortheclimate.org/livestream

6 November – Global Day of Climate Action https://cop26coalition.org/

6 November 11am – London Rally for Climate Action. Meet at St Mary Moorfields Church, 4-5 Eldon Street, London EC2M 7LS, where we will gather with CAFOD supporters before we join the main march outside the Bank of England. Wear a CAFOD T-shirt or something green! Bring a banner. Register to receive updates: https://cafod.org.uk/News/Events/COP26-Day-of-Action-2021

7 November, 4pm – Ecumenical Service for COP 26 St. Mungo’s Cathedral  https://www.glasgowcathedral.org/

14 November – Launch of the Laudato Si’ Platform on of the World Day of the Poor https://laudatosiactionplatform.org/

20 November – RC Diocese of Southwark Justice and Peace Commission Autumn Assembly: ‘COP26: What next?’ Corpus Christi Catholic Church, Brixton Hill, London, SW2 5BJ. What can we do that we aren’t doing now in response to care for the earth, care for the poor, care for a fairer economy? Entrance free.  Everyone welcome. Please bring a packed lunch.  Tea and coffee will be provided. Email jpiccontact@rcaos.org.uk to reserve your place.

For updates on all Key Climate Dates click here

Faith communities urge PM to show leadership at COP26

Faith Campaigners outside the Houses of Parliament, 18 October 2021

Source: CAFOD

Representatives from Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist and Hindu faiths handed in a statement for the Prime Minister at No 10 Downing Street on Monday morning, saying he was in a “unique position to lead the world in tackling the climate crisis” with the COP26 climate talks in Glasgow less than two weeks away.

The statement highlighted calls from more than 75,000 people across faith communities urging Boris Johnson to show leadership by taking action to tackle the climate emergency in a way that is fair and just for those on the frontlines of the crisis. The statement will specifically call on the Prime Minister to:

  • Keep the 1.5C warming limit agreement alive.
  • Ensure rich countries meet commitments to meet and exceed $100bn in climate finance each year to countries hardest hit by the crisis.
  • End support for fossil fuels everywhere.

Participants included Rt Rev Olivia Graham (Anglican Bishop of Reading), Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg (Senior Rabbi, Masorti Judaism), Imam Emad Choudhury (Imam at Bahu Trust), Avnish Thakrar (National Coordinator, Hindu Climate Action) and Olivia Fuchs (Eco Dharma Network).

The event was organised by CAFOD, Christian Aid, World Vision, SCIAF, Tearfund, and the Faiths 4 Climate Justice network.

Monday 18th October – Faith Communities Call On Boris Johnson To Tackle Climate Crisis Before Crunch Time COP26

On Monday 18th October 10.00 BST representatives from Christian, Muslim, Jewish,
Buddhist and Hindu groups will hand in a statement for the Prime Minister at No.10 Downing
Street telling the Prime Minister he has a “unique position to lead the world in tackling the
climate crisis” with the COP26 climate talks in Glasgow less than two weeks away.


The statement will specifically call on the Prime Minister to:
● Keep 1.5C warming limit agreement alive
● Ensure rich countries meet commitments to meet and exceed $100bn in climate
finance each year to countries hardest hit by the crisis
● End further support for fossil fuels everywhere

The five faith leaders who will take part in the hand in are:
● Rt Rev Olivia Graham – Bishop of Reading
● Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg – Senior Rabbi, Masorti Judaism
● Imam Emad Choudhury – Imam at Bahu Trust
● Avnish Thakrar – National Coordinator, Hindu Climate Action
● Olivia Fuchs – Eco Dharma Network.

The moment is being organised by the aid agencies CAFOD, Christian Aid, World Vision,
SCIAF, Tearfund, and the Faith for the Climate network.

Dr Shanon Shah, Director of Faith for the Climate said:

“We are incredibly proud of the people of diverse religions in the UK and around the world who
have come together with a single message to the leaders who will represent us at COP26:
destroying the planet is against our religions. We’ve demonstrated that for people of faith,
prayers, reflections and meditations are necessary but not enough. We need urgent and
decisive action to address this climate crisis which most severely affects the people who have
done the least to cause it.”

Liam Finn, Campaigns Manager at CAFOD, said:

“We’d like to thank the thousands of Catholics and people from across faith communities who’ve
sent an unequivocal message to Boris Johnson that he has to show leadership at the COP. The
fight to tackle the climate emergency won’t end in Glasgow, but the COP is a vital moment for us
to get on track to ‘keep 1.5 alive’ and prevent our sisters and brothers in vulnerable communities
facing even more catastrophic consequences for a crisis they’ve done least to cause.

“That’s why the Prime Minister has to make sure the people living in communities on the
frontlines of the crisis are put at the heart of COP26, rather than being treated as an
afterthought by decision-makers, as Pope Francis warns is too often the case.”

Laudato Si’ Animators Pray at Westminster Cathedral – 1st October

Laudato Si’ Animators outside Westminster Cathedral with the ‘Mother of Mercy’ icon

On the 1st October, beginning of the month of the Rosary and towards the end of the Season of Creation, a group of Laudato Si’ Animators gathered outside Westminster Cathedral before and after the 12.30 Mass. 

The purpose was to pray and distribute prayer cards with artist Helen Elwes’ “Mother of Mercy” painting. Thanks to the efforts of Helen and Sr Zoe Leadbetter and the help of various benefactors a big number of these cards has been printed. The hope is that the distribution of this image will help stimulate our Catholic imagination and prayer for our wounded earth. The painting shows Mary, the Mother of Mercy, holding her mantle over all creation, including animals that have become extinct. In the background there are forest fires showing the damage we are doing to the earth. Leaflets about the climate and ecological emergency and the 40 days of prayer before the launching of the Laudato Si’ Action Platform (14th November 2021) were also handed out.

Helen Elwes writes

As an artist I have tried to express my grief for what we are doing to our precious planet in the language I know best – in my painting ‘Mother of Mercy’. It is a contemporary image of the ‘Madonna della Misericordia’ set in a landscape destroyed by fire with the burning rainforest in the distance.

Mary kneels with her blue cloak outstretched around the tree of life, protecting praying figures and endangered animals who take refuge beneath it.

Above her head are the words : ‘Mother of Mercy – Pray For Us’

I have painted it as a modern Icon to inspire prayer but have made it in the form of a banner to bring it out into the world as I feel this message is so urgent. It is a response to the climate and ecological emergency the world is now facing and inspired by Pope Francis’ powerful and visionary call to action in Laudato Si’.

Potholes and Doughnuts – Caritas and Climate Change

Westminster Diocese is on the road to carbon neutrality…

By Louise Cook, Caritas Westminster Communications Officer

Source: Caritas Westminster

I recently read that wealth is like the suspension on an expensive car. When you have it, you don’t notice what a good job it is doing smoothing you over rough patches. If you don’t have it, you feel every bump and pothole.

Climate change is going to bring a lot more potholes – literally as well as metaphorically. Devastating weather events are already making areas of the world – most often in the Global South – almost uninhabitable. CAFOD and other aid organisations are right to point out that climate breakdown is a matter of justice – with the poor who have done the least to contribute to it, being the most affected by it.

Whilst the UK is expected to see more extreme weather events, such as heat waves and flooding, our climate will, at least in the short term, remain hospitable. But there is still a risk that the poorest people in our own society, and those with the least power, will be badly affected.Those already living in poor accommodation, or indeed, without any shelter at all, will be worst affected by heavy rain and heatwaves. 

A 2011 report for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation found that

“People who live in poorly constructed homes in ‘urban heat islands’ (where built environments retain heat), work in hot conditions, suffer ill health, are older or very young, receive low incomes and/or are disconnected from social networks are more likely to be vulnerable to high temperatures.”

The Greater London Authority commissioned Bloomberg Associates to create a Climate Risk Map, where as well as physical variables (likelihood of flooding, areas of high pollution, ‘heat islands’) social variables were used – including the percentage of income-deprived families and of social housing tenants, as well as the proportion who do not have proficiency in English.  

The research states:

“Poverty is an important determinant of how well people can prepare for, respond to, and recover from climate-related events. People on low incomes are more likely to have a lower adaptive capacity to heatwaves because they lack both the resources to act and the power to make changes. Additionally, low income households are less likely to have the capacity to fully prepare for floods (through insurance and property level measures). They are also more likely to be displaced as a result of flooding.”

Climate injustice is a UK issue as well as a serious global issue. 

As the recent joint statement from Pope Francis, Patriarch Bartholomew, and Archbishop  of Canterbury Justin Welby said:

“We serve a God of justice, who delights in creation and creates every person in God’s image, but also hears the cry of people who are poor. Accordingly, there is an innate call within us to respond with anguish when we see such devastating injustice.”

Young Christian Climate Network

Wealthy countries – and the wealthiest people in those countries, must take the lead in moving away from fossil fuels, to limit climate change, and urgently. But to meet the target of net zero carbon emissions, changes to our lifestyle and economy must be made across the whole of society.

And this is where the bumps along the way – for example, while we move away from gas boilers, petrol and diesel cars, and the consumption of large amounts of cheap meat – will be felt by the most vulnerable.

It is important that those of us who are working in social justice are aware of this, and that we raise awareness of these issues among the general public, and in conversations with those we serve – as well as in our advocacy and campaigning work. Our Road to Resilience Programme aims to help people become able to cope with changing events and crises, including climactic events.

Trying to achieve net zero – which after all, seems to be restricting people’s access to necessary energy and transport,-  and bring people out of poverty can seem like an impossible task. And if we attempt to do it whilst carrying on with business as usual, it probably is.

But there are new ways of thinking that could help policy makers in this task.

For example, the “Doughnut Economics” model, proposed by Kate Raworth in her book of the same name, subtitled “Seven Ways to Think Like a 21st Century Eonomist”

Raworth argues that the purpose of economics needs to urgently move away from unlimited Growth and towards keeping all humans and the planet in a “safe space”. As illustrated by the doughnut shape:

Image licenced as Creative Commons by the Doughnut Economics Action Lab DEAL (doughnuteconomics.org)
Image licenced as Creative Commons by the Doughnut Economics Action Lab doughnuteconomics.org


The Safe Space of the doughnut is bounded inside by a Social Foundation, where a just distribution of wealth and power ensures that all people have the means to live fulfilled lives, free from poverty and fear.  Among these are the five priorities of Caritas Westminster: Food, Shelter, Financial Resilience, Dignified Work and Social Inclusion.

The outside of the doughnut is bounded by the Ecological Ceiling, restricting human actions which cause damage to the planet – which is put in its correct place as the source of all wealth and wellbeing.  

As we end this year’s Season of Creation and approach COP26, the international meeting on Climate Change taking place in Glasgow from 31st October, it is a good time to think about how we can respond as individuals, as parishes and schools, as a diocese, and as a country.

The Diocese of Westminster has announced plans to become carbon neutral by 2030 – something which will require the cooperation of every parish and school.

The Justice and Peace Commission is at the forefront of this work, and Caritas Westminster will be doing all we can to support them.

But we need every household, business and community space across the country to become Carbon Neutral. With the right policy changes by Government this can be done.

For it to be done justly, it must include efforts to smooth the way for the most vulnerable in society, to ensure that neither climate change, nor our efforts to prevent it, create more hardship and injustice.


Get more involved in Care of Creation and events surrounding COP26 

You can use our Love In Action resources to help your parish learn about and act on Care of Creation alongside other aspects of Catholic Social Teaching.

Join us on the Road to Resilience.

Find out more about Climate Justice globally from CAFOD.

Watch this video, in which the Cardinal explains the Diocesan Decarbonisation programme:

Ellen Teague speaks on Ecological Conversion at Hanwell Masses

Ellen Teague with Jack Edwards at the YCCN Climate Service in Westminster Cathedral 6 Aug 2021

Source: Columban Missionaries Britain

Ellen Teague of the Columban JPIC Team spoke at Masses on 2nd/3rd October 2021 in Hanwell parish, West London, just before the Feast of St. Francis on 4th October. Her talk marked the end of the Season of Creation and suggested ways to continue parish work on climate change and “ecological conversion”.

May the Lord bless us all the days of our life, says today’s psalm. And not just our lives but the lives of our children’s children. These wonderful words written nearly 3,000 years ago inspire my work on Justice, Peace, Ecology issues for the Columban missionaries. Part of this will be representing them at the international UN climate summit in Glasgow in November – the COP26 that you are seeing in the media.

Pope Francis said this week, “every human being has a right to a healthy environment”. He was referring to protecting Planet Earth, our common home, from climate change. But what has prompted my own mission to care for creation?

As a lay missionary in Northern Nigeria in the early 1980s I saw farmers from Niger moving south to work because their farms in Niger had become desertified and prone to soil erosion. Back in Britain, I worked for CAFOD and helped collect funds for the great Ethiopia famine appeal of 1984. TV pictures showed poor people  queuing for food aid amidst a dusty, oppressively hot environment. In the late 1980s I visited Sudan and will never forget witnessing a million people in a refugee camp near the city of Juba, displaced from their homes by drought, exacerbated by conflict, and sitting in a treeless, sun-baked plain completely reliant on humanitarian aid. I was awakened to what several popes have called an “ecological conversion”.

By the 1990s the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was proving that the stability of the world’s climate was being undermined by humanity dumping greenhouse gases into Earth’s atmosphere. Our planet was heating. Why? Energy and transport reliant on fossil fuels, extractive industries tearing up land to access minerals, industrial agriculture were all responsible, alongside raised standards of living in affluent countries such as ours which have literally devoured Earth’s natural resources. Structural issues have include third world debt which forced countries in the global south to destroy their rainforests and export the timber.

The saddest aspect has been that the weakest communities in the poorest countries, who have done least to cause global warming, have been worst affected.  In 2007 I observed the Archdiocese of Manila in the Philippines hold a climate conference attended by over 2000 people – representation from every parish – because, with over half the parishes at or below sea level, they wanted to prepare for flooding caused by inundation from the rising ocean and for more severe weather. And they have had it in recent times. Fr. Sean McDonagh was the keynote speaker. The Filipino bishops said 20 years ago that, “the destruction of creation is sinful and contrary to the teachings of our faith.”

Today’s readings have a strong focus on marriage, family bonds and the rights of children but these relationships are sorely tested by the climate crisis which has torn families and communities apart. Two million people – mostly in the global south – have died as a result of a five-fold increase in weather-related disasters in our lifetimes. Climate refugees could reach 200 million by 2050. Humanity is increasingly on the move and the stability that families and communities need is in jeopardy. The time to act is now.

In 2015 Pope Francis produced his acclaimed environment encyclical ‘Laudato Si’ which is part of the teaching of the Church. It calls on Catholics and all people to heed the warnings of climate experts. “The climate is a good that must be protected” he said and asked us “to hear the cry of the Earth and the cry of the poor”. Since then, we have seen increased wild fires, flooding and species extinction around the globe. The climate crisis cannot be ignored anymore, even by those of us not yet feeling the worst impacts.

There is much we can all do.

Tomorrow’s Feast of St. Francis reminds us to appreciate God’s beautiful creation – fresh air, clean water, nutritious food, green spaces, our animal companions. Reflect on your own way of life: avoid waste – especially food waste – conserve water and energy and protect local trees and hedgerows. Share wealth with the victims of climate change.

Hanwell is one of thousands of parishes of all Christian denominations which have celebrated the Season of Creation over the past month. And today, you can support the Climate Appeal of CAFOD. I have a table of resources at the back of the church for finding out more about engagement with COP26. Support your excellent parish Justice and Peace Group, which has raised awareness for many years. Consider becoming a Livesimply parish. And look out for refugees in Ealing and support them – for numbers will grow as people flee climate disasters. Support Westminster Diocese efforts to reduce its carbon footprint. Faith groups are divesting from fossil fuels, such as the Sisters of St Joseph of Peace in this parish.

Outside of your beautiful parish, in the local community, what about engaging with Hanwell Nature which has campaigned to protect the site of Warren Farm for its biodiversity. Did you know it has the only breeding skylark birds in Ealing? These beautiful birds are being conserved and are a blessing in our lives and the lives of our children’s children.

You can be involved nationally and internationally too. Christians are involved with climate justice because climate change affects most heavily communities least able to deal with it and on countries with low greenhouse emission rates, such as Bangladesh and Fiji. We should listen to our young people who demand a future of peace, green jobs and renewable energy. Young Christians have been walking from Cornwall to COP26 in Glasgow since June – a pilgrimage to raise awareness, pray with local churches, and eventually lobby world leaders converging on the city.  They have reached Manchester this weekend.

Another aspect is that we owe respect to the rest of the natural world. Today’s first reading from Genesis speaks of God creating the animals and birds. God sees creation as very good. ‘Laudato Si’ presents a strong critique of modern consumerism which plunders and destroys the natural world. We need soil, trees, rivers and rainfall in order to survive and the Church is speaking out about this louder than it has ever done.

Pope Francis – a global moral beacon – will be speaking in Glasgow to push for urgent action on climate change. The Columbans are supporting him there and organising a 24-hour vigil on 6th-7th November in liaison with other Catholic groups such as Justice and Peace Scotland and the Jesuits in Scotland. CAFOD is organising events in Glasgow and London that same weekend.

You are invited to sign the ‘Healthy Planet, Healthy People’ Petition.  Our Columbans UK website, Facebook and Twitter are updated daily with news of the Catholic response to justice, peace and ecology issues. Details in our latest newsletter at the back. We will help you play your part in lobbying for a successful UN climate summit in November.

Sign the Healthy Planet, Healthy People Petition

Ordinary people like you and me can make a huge difference. At the very least we can identify the habits that have harmed our environment globally and realign as individuals and community to what will keep our society and our environment healthy. This gives everybody hope.

May the Lord indeed bless us all the days of our lives as we follow the Church in promoting justice, peace and “ecological conversion”.

Columban Missionaries Britain

Church of Our Lady and St Joseph, Hanwell, West London

Sign the Healthy Planet, Healthy People Petition

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.

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/