Climate Events Planning Meeting 17th April 10am

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.’

Pope Francis, Laudato Si’, 217

Register in advance with Eventbrite to receive the Zoom link

For further details or to chat about how you might like to be involved, please call the Justice and Peace Co-ordinator, Colette Joyce 07593 434905 / Email colettejoyce@rcdow.org.uk

Climate Campaigners at Westminster Cathedral

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.

Prayers outside Westminster Cathedral

Prayers outside Westminster Cathedral

Source – Independent Catholic News

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 colettejoyce@rcdow.org.uk

Diocese of Westminster Justice and Peace Care of Creation webpage

Key Climate Dates in 2021

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.

Climate Change – The Gospel Imperative: Watch a talk by Lord Deben to the Catholic Union

The Catholic Union hosted a webinar with The Rt Hon Lord Deben (John Selwyn Gummer) on the subject of “Climate Change – The Gospel Imperative” on Tuesday 23 March 2021. Lord Deben is a former Secretary of State for the Environment and is currently Chairman of the UK’s independent Committee on Climate Change.

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.”

More on Care of Creation for the Diocese of Westminster

Next Westminster Justice & Peace Networking Opportunities – Online in March

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.

Monday, 8th March, 7.00-8.00pm                        North London Justice & Peace Network

Tuesday 16th March, 7.30-8.30pm                      Hertfordshire Justice & Peace Network

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.

Saturday 20th March, 10.00-11.30am                 Central London Climate Festival Planning Group – First Meeting

Decarbonisation Project Launched for Catholics in England and Wales

Bishop John Arnold, Salford Diocese, Lead Bishop for the Environment in England and Wales

Source: Independent Catholic News

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.

LINKS

Guardians of Creation – www.dioceseofsalford.org.uk/diocese/environment/guardiansofcreation/

Care of Creation Ideas for Diocese of Westminster

Key Climate Dates in 2021

Key Climate Dates in 2021

Show the Love – Decorate your house, wear a green heart, share a picture online
Call for united action to protect the world we love14th February 2021
  • 1-21 February – #ShowTheLove – Green Hearts (especially 14 February) An annual celebration of everything we care about and want to protect. Use this opportunity to join together, asking your friends, neighbours and politicians to unite in tackling the climate crisis. The Climate Coalition
  • 17 February – Ash Wednesday
  • 18 February – 25 March, 7.30-8.30pm – Global Healing Lent Series Join other people online from across England and Wales to reflect on the environment for six Thursday evenings in Lent, with speakers, prayer and discussion, based around the “Global Healing” film resource. Engage with the documentaries to respond to Pope Francis’ call to Care for Our Common Home. GCCM/Laudato Si’ Animators UK
  • 20 February – CAFOD Big Walk for Water. Walk for Water Challenge
  • 22 February to 7 March – Fairtrade Fortnight Will highlight the growing challenges that climate change brings to farmers and workers in the communities Fairtrade works with. The facts are straightforward. Farmers and workers in countries such as Kenya, Ethiopia and Honduras, who have done the least to contribute to climate change, are disproportionately affected by it. Fairtrade Foundation
  • 26 February –  CAFOD Lent Family Fast day CAFOD Lent Appeal
  • 5th March, 11.00-11.45am – Diocese of Westminster Fairtrade Diocese Award, Online Celebration & Social Westminster is officially a Fairtrade Diocese. Join us on the last Friday of Fairtrade Fortnight to mark the occasion with a Fairtrade tea, coffee, cakes, biscuits, chocolate or fruit! Fairtrade Diocese Celebration
  • 11 March – Sacred Space Sacred People – Interfaith Day of Climate Action – Sign the multi-faith declaration https://actionnetwork.org/forms/sacred-people-sacred-earth-sign-the-multi-faith-climate-statement  Ring bells at 12noon. A webinar is being organised for that date. GreenFaith
  • 12th-15th March – Laudato Si’ Retreat Online at Boarbank Hall with Archbishop John Wilson of Southwark and Bishop Peter Brignall of Wrexham. More info and bookings
  • 26th March, 11am-12.15pm – Eco-Church 5th Anniversary Online Celebration Service. A Rocha
  • 4 April – Easter Sunday
  • 5-11 April – IMF/World Bank Spring meetings
  • 16th-19th April -Laudato Si’ Retreat Online at Boarbank Hall with Archbishop Bernard Longley of Birmingham and Bishop Marcus Stock of Leeds. More info and bookings
  • 22 April – Earth Day Earth Day 2021
  • 17 May – UN Biodiversity Summit Kunming, China. 15th Meeting. Convention on Biological Diversity
  • 24 May – Laudato Si’ Year ends. Marking 5th Anniversary since publication of Laudato Si’ by Pope Francis in 2015. Launch of 7 Year Vatican Plan to Implement Laudato Si’. Download from Laudato Si’ Website
  • 11-13 June – G7 D20 Meetings in Cornwell. Prime Minister Boris Johnson aims to use G7 Presidency to unite leading democracies to help the world build back better from coronavirus and create a greener, more prosperous future. UK Government website details
  • 23-25 July – National Justice and Peace Network Action for Life on Earth. Annual conference at the Hayes Conference Centre, Swanwick, Derbyshire, will focus on climate justice National Justice and Peace Network Conference
  • 1 September – 4 October – Season of Creation Theme: ‘A Home for All’ Season of Creation 2021
  • 5 September – Climate Sunday Worship and Services for the Climate can be held any Sunday between now and 5th September, culminating in a national event at Glasgow Cathedral Climate Sunday
  • September- November: International Climate Pilgrims travelling to Glasgow
  • 14-30 September – UN General Assembly NYC
  • 10 days in September – Climate Coalition Climate Regional Festival
  • 1-12 November UN Climate Conference COP 26 in Glasgow UK COP26

Environment Article – Edward de Quay, Laudato Si’: How far have we come in five years?

Edward de Quay, Project Manager for the Bishops’ Conference Environmental Advisory Group, looks at how Catholics in England and Wales have responded to Laudato Si’ and how each of us can be part of that response.

This article, written by Edward De Quay, first appearing in The Pastoral Review in May 2020 and re-circulated by the Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales during the Season of Creation in September 2020, focuses on the legacy of Laudato Si’ in England and Wales.

To those keenly waiting for the publication of Laudato Si’ (LS) the text was a relief. Led by Scripture and grounded in science, it identified care for creation as key to our faith, recognising that “science and religion, with their distinctive approaches to understanding reality, can enter into an intense dialogue fruitful for both” (LS 62). By accepting the signs of the times and understanding them through the lens of our faith, Pope Francis presented a powerful case to care for our common home.

Equally important was his insight that the ecological crisis we face is a human one; that climate change is a symptom of a problem that cannot be solved without addressing the root cause, which is our way of living and thinking and interacting with the world: “The violence present in our hearts, wounded by sin, is also reflected in the symptoms of sickness evident in the soil, in the water, in the air and in all forms of life” (LS 2). Drawing on the teaching of Pope St John Paul II, we are asked to embark on the journey of a “profound interior conversion”, leading to an “ecological conversion” (LS 217).

So far so good. Laudato Si’ was also a call to action, to wake up to climate change and understand that the cry of the poor – which we have always prided ourselves on being responsive to – is intertwined with the cry of the earth, which has been perhaps more difficult to identify. This article will focus on the practical imprint the document has made on the Catholic Church in England and Wales over the past five years.

Laudato Si’ is incredibly challenging at a personal level, and this has been evident in the difficulty many have found in engaging friends, family and parishes in its themes. In 2017 the Bishops’ Conference convened an Environmental Advisory Group, and while progress has been made in the following three years under the guidance of Bishop John Arnold, there is still a mountain to climb.

In principle, we are well poised to be agents for change. Globally there are 1.3 billion baptised Catholics, or 17.7 per cent of the world population. This is also, perhaps, a rare topic where we are in agreement with a prevailing societal view – that climate change is a fundamental problem to be addressed urgently. More than this, we have been ahead of the times in terms of our teaching.

In 1971, Pope Paul VI noted in his apostolic letter Octoagesima Adveniens: “Man is suddenly becoming aware that by an ill-considered exploitation of nature he risks destroying it and becoming in his turn the victim of this degradation.” Pope St John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI, too, were outspoken on the topic. Pope Francis was able to bring together the threads of his predecessors into the tapestry of Laudato Si’, developing their understanding of care for creation and human development being two sides of the same coin, and criticising the consumerist mentality which fails to acknowledge this reality. There is no need to leave this topic to David Attenborough and Greta Thunberg. Catholics have a rich understanding of how care for our common home contributes to a life lived well. The science is important, but it’s only half the conversation.

On top of this, Pope Francis is a well-liked diplomat, and the political significance of Laudato Si’ should not be understated. The document was released, it is safe to assume, deliberately in the run-up to the UN Conference on Climate Change (COP21) in Paris in 2015, where it was acknowledged as influential and inspirational to the delegates. Archbishop Bernardito Auza, then Apostolic Nuncio and Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, described how “not only had practically every delegate heard of Laudato Si’; Pope Francis was cited by more than thirty Heads of State or Government in their Interventions at the Plenary Session”. The resulting ‘Paris Agreement’ was a milestone in climate diplomacy, and is due to come into force when the UK hosts the twenty-sixth conference in Glasgow in November 2020.

Nationally too, Laudato Si’ has been influential. In 2018, the then secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Michael Gove, gave the Theos annual lecture on the environment, heavily referencing Laudato Si’, which he considers “remarkable for the depth of thought which goes into addressing the twin challenges of climate and social justice, for considering in depth both the science and theology of climate change, and for exploring the spiritual, ethical and religious dimensions of one of the greatest challenges facing the world”. He went on to state that “the Pope’s solutions in Laudato Si’ are clear and sensible, and ones on which I think we can all agree”.

We have another incentive to act – particularly in England and Wales. Quoting the bishops of Bolivia, Pope Francis states that “the countries which have benefited from a high degree of industrialization, at the cost of enormous emissions of greenhouse gases, have a greater responsibility for providing a solution to the problems they have caused” (LS 170). The Prime Minister has in fact committed us to this, acknowledging in his speech to launch COP26 that as we were first to industrialise, it is proper that we are the first major economy to meet net-zero by 2050.

Our own Bishops renewed their commitment to care for creation in 2019, with the written statement Guardians of God’s Creation, in which they call for the development of a “Christian spirituality of ecology” which begins in “personal and family life”. Perhaps this appears to be passing the buck, but the “interior conversion” needed to tackle the ecological crisis is a personal responsibility for everyone. Furthermore, it is in the schools that we see perhaps the most engaged action, where, at primary level at least, students can explore the issue outside of grown up concepts like ‘realistic expectations’, ‘economic progress’ or ‘funding constraints’. “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven” (Mt 19.14). Like children, we should ask “why?” more, questioning the prevailing logic of the world and looking for truth and beauty. In a recent homily, Pope Francis reflected on the ‘apostasy of Solomon’ passage in the first book of Kings, saying that “for us this slippery slide in life is directed toward worldliness. This is the grave sin: ‘Everyone is doing it. Don’t worry about it; obviously it’s not ideal, but…’ We justify ourselves with these words, at the price of losing our faithfulness to the one and only God.” This ‘Christian spirituality of ecology’, both the key and biggest obstacle to engaging in the ecological crisis, must start in personal and family life, inspired by bold leadership.

In Guardians of God’s Creation, the Bishops committed themselves and invited their people to engage in this urgent challenge, “so that together we show leadership by our actions”, looking to “avoid the worst consequences of this ecological crisis by engaging now and over the next decade on this ‘long path to renewal’”. Some dioceses already have environmental policies in place, such as Middlesbrough and Hexham and Newcastle, and others have committed their dioceses to action through pastoral letters and Diocese-wide events.

As far back as 2007, Clifton Diocese organised a year-long series of events exploring our relationship to the natural world through the eyes of faith, under the title ‘The Sound of Many Waters’. CAFOD, too, have been running their livesimply award to celebrate parishes living simply, sustainably and in solidarity with the poorest since 2006. In Lent 2019, Bishop John Arnold issued a pastoral letter in which he challenged every parish to help “make the Diocese of Salford a flagship for ways to heal and care for our common home”, as well as announcing the development of a ‘Laudato Si’ Centre’ in the grounds of Wardley Hall. In Advent 2019, Bishop Richard Moth issued a similar challenge to his Diocese of Arundel and Brighton, urging it to “wake up” to our ecological crisis, as well as launching the ‘Journey to 2030’ project. Run by Catholic youth in the Diocese, it commits to a decade of action, and provides a simple ‘getting started guide’ for parishes at journeyto2030.org.

One way the Bishops’ Conference has indicated the importance of engaging with this topic is through the commissioning of two films produced by Catholic Faith Exploration (CaFE). Global Healing (2018) and Global Caring (2019) are TV-quality films engaging in the spirituality and practicalities of Laudato Si’, in a format designed to promote discussion and community-building in a parish setting. The Jesuits in Britain have also taken on the educational challenge, launching the Laudato Si’ Research Institute at Campion Hall, Oxford and an MA in Theology, Ecology and Ethics at Roehampton University last year.

Another national response has been the work done by the Catholic Church’s energy procurement group, Inter-diocesan Fuel Management (IFM), which supplies 2,800 churches with green electricity and gas, including landmarks such as Westminster, Nottingham and Plymouth Cathedrals. This contract is also available to Catholic schools, institutions and religious orders. The cost is kept down by buying energy together, so the more buildings we have on the scheme the better it becomes. Two dioceses, Lancaster and Middlesbrough, and several religious orders have also gone one stage further by announcing that their investment portfolios will no longer include fossil fuel companies.

There are many inspiring stories from schools and parishes across England and Wales, which deserve to be told. It is important to celebrate what we do achieve, be this improving recycling rates, insulating our churches and schools better or generating greener energy, opening allotments, banning plastics from parish activities, holding film and information nights and promoting eco-friendly behaviours, all while building a sense of community in the parish. All of this happens and happens well.

To return to the idea of asking “why?” more often, this can be as grand as challenging economic systems and as simple as looking at the contents of your own shopping basket. Often, there are no definitive answers, and the best approach is to allow those that have the skills and the time to engage in the issue and to come up with a locally workable solution. Even simple question like “why do we buy cut flowers?” could lead to interesting conversations. Perhaps this will come about by looking at what the parish buys, where it comes from, how it was traded, and whether better, more ethical, sustainable alternatives are available. Perhaps not every parish will come up with the same solution, but by engaging in the problem we learn more about the issues and our responsibilities as Christians to care for our neighbour.

This problem of unethical sourcing driven by the ‘culture of consumerism’ is criticised by Pope Francis in Laudato Si’ and returned to in his recent apostolic exhortation Querida Amazonia (QA), or ‘Beloved Amazonia’, a region of the world directly affected by our consumerist behaviour. “The globalized economy shamelessly damages human, social and cultural richness” (QA 39). “The land has blood, and it is bleeding; the multinationals have cut the veins of our mother earth” (QA 42). Speaking at a press conference to launch the document, Bishop John Arnold added that “the environmental questions are enormous because what they’ve been doing in the Amazon is not sustainable. The use of fossil fuels and the mining cannot be sustained and is doing dreadful damage. We’ve got to be aware of our role in that, that so many of the products of the Amazon are consumed by us, and are not even for the benefit of the people of that region.”

Changing our consumer habits helps bring pressure on those who wield political, economic and social power. Pope Francis argues that “this is what consumer movements accomplish by boycotting certain products. They prove successful in changing the way businesses operate, forcing them to consider their environmental footprint and their patterns of production. When social pressure affects their earnings, businesses clearly have to find ways to produce differently. This shows us the great need for a sense of social responsibility on the part of consumers. Purchasing is always a moral – and not simply economic – act” (LS 206).

Alongside our individual and community efforts, it is right that we are active politically. CAFOD have taken Laudato Si’ to heart, concentrating effort through their ‘Our Common Home’ campaign. A current action is a petition to the Prime Minister addressing issues raised in Querida Amazonia around support for local, sustainable agriculture and clean energy. This campaign recognises that it is the poorest and most vulnerable who pay the price of climate change, despite having done the least to cause the problems. CAFOD is also active in interfaith and wider society action, such as the ‘Time is Now’ lobby last June, where over 380 members of parliament came out to talk to their constituents about climate change. The National Justice and Peace Network is also focusing on ecology at their annual conference this June, entitled ‘2020 vision – Action for Life on Earth’.

This is another important part of asking “why?” like children and being awake to the ways our society affects our global neighbours. In the run-up to COP26, it is especially important to make our voices heard, and Pope Francis encourages us to do this:

“For this reason, all of us should insist on the urgent need to establish a legal framework which can set clear boundaries and ensure the protection of ecosystems … otherwise, the new power structures based on the techno-economic paradigm may overwhelm not only our politics, but also freedom and justice” (QA 52).

When we stand back and look at the big picture, as illustrated by this entirely insufficient overview, it is of a church in motion. There is something everyone can do to encourage this ‘profound interior conversion’, no matter how small, as there is a “nobility in the duty to care for creation through little daily actions, and it is wonderful how education can bring about real changes in lifestyle.” (LS 211)

To conclude and re-emphasise, this article lists a tiny fragment of the Church’s efforts both from organisations and individuals. Every parishioner’s efforts build up the collective action of the Church.

You can download this article as it appeared in The Pastoral Review.

Climate Sunday launched. Churches invited to take part from Sunday 6th September 2020


‘Climate Sunday’ has been launched to provide a focus for churches across Britain and Ireland committed to action on climate change.

Climate Sunday has been organised by the Environmental Issues Network of Churches Together in Britain and Ireland, supported by charities including CAFOD, Christian Aid, Tearfund, A Rocha UK, and Operation Noah.

Local churches are encouraged to hold a Climate Sunday any time during a one-year period from 6 September 2020 – the first Sunday in the annual Season of Creation.

Free resources are being provided to suit every tradition and style of worship. Each church is invited to do one or more of three things:

1. To hold a climate-focused service to explore the theological and scientific basis of creation care and action on climate, to pray, and to commit to action.

2. To make a commitment as a local church community to taking long term action to reduce its own greenhouse gas emissions.

3. Join with other churches and wider society by adding its name to a common call for the UK government to take much bolder action on climate change in advance of COP26, and to strengthen its credibility to lead the international community to adopt a step change in action at COP26.

The culmination of the campaign will be a national Climate Sunday event on Sunday 5 September 2021, to share church commitments and pray for bold action and courageous leadership at the COP26 UN climate talks in Glasgow in November 2021.

Bishop John Arnold of Salford, the bishop responsible for the environment for the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales, said: “We need to recognise the damage we’re doing to the environment and our failure to look after our brothers and sisters in our common home. In a post-pandemic world, the Climate Sunday project is an excellent opportunity for Catholic parishes in England and Wales, as well as our ecumenical brothers and sisters, to understand responsibility to heal our planet and to pray and act in response to the climate emergency.”

To register for Climate Sunday visit: www.climatesunday.org

Original article on Independent Catholic News

Laudato Si’ Week 2020 around the world

The Global Catholic Climate Movement has produced a video showing the creative ways in which hundreds of thousands of Catholics on every continent marked their commemorations of Laudato Si’ Week for the fifth anniversary of the encyclical (16-24 May 2020.)

If you look closely you will even see a picture from the UK of a group at Farm Street Church, including our Justice & Peace chair, Fr Dominic Robinson SJ, announcing the divestment of a number of religious organisations from fossil fuels!

The real work has only just begun, though, and Pope Francis now wants us to spend a further year focusing on the message of Laudato Si’ that will help us unite around the international goal of protecting our common home. This will help us prepare to make a significant contribution to the UN Climate Conference COP26, which it has now been announced will take place 1-12 November 2021 in Glasgow.

The next step is to continue with all our individual actions, promises and goal-setting while looking towards the Season of Creation, 1 September – 4 October 2020 as the next significant time set aside for collaborative action.

Get involved!

Season of Creation – Global Catholic Climate Movement Website

Jesuits in Britain divest from Fossil Fuels