A Prayer for COP26

As world leaders, journalists, activists and others arrive in Glasgow for COP26,
we pray for the events over the next 2 weeks.
We know that these conversations are crucial and urgent,
and we ask for your visible presence in guiding our leaders to wise and fair decisions.
We ask for your peace for all who are feeling expectant and emotional about these decisions.
Whether they’ve invested lots of time in campaigning,
or their communities are on the frontline of climate change.
We thank you Lord that we can trust in you when things feel overwhelming.

We look at the state of the world and we lament.

We look at your son Jesus and we have hope for eternity.

We look at your call for us to care for this Earth and our neighbours,
and we are stirred into action.

Thank you Lord that in your strength, we can hope for change.

Amen

Naomi-Ruth Bookless, YCCN Relay

Young Christian Climate Network (YCCN) and other pilgrimages arrive for COP26

Prayer Service to Welcome Little Amal to Westminster Cathedral

Cardinal Vincent Nichols and Little AmalPicture by Jane Lowe

On Monday 25th October 2021 we welcomed a very unusual visitor to Westminster Cathedral. Little Amal is a 3.5m puppet of a refugee girl who has walked  from the border of  Turkey / Syria and is heading to Manchester, a journey of 8000km, in search of her mother. Amal’s journey is intended to raise awareness of the many people who undertake such migrant journeys across Europe, especially unaccompanied children. Each one has a personal story of loss, hardship and the search for safety. Amal has already been welcomed to Rome by Pope Francis in September and to St Paul’s Cathedral in London on Saturday 23rd October, as well as many other cultural and religious landmarks in Europe and the UK.

A choir from the Zimbabwean Chaplaincy were waiting on the steps with Cardinal Vincent Nichols to welcome Amal, while musicians and singers from the Congolese Chaplaincy led her into the Cathedral. Cardinal Vincent climbed into the pulpit where he greeted Amal with the words, ‘Welcome to our heart, our home…’

After her welcome from the Cardinal, Amal was invited to walk around the front of the Cathedral visiting the Chapel of St Paul, the Lady Chapel and the Sanctuary as prayers were said at each of these sacred spaces.

First Station – The Chapel of St Paul

Reader: Amal, first we would like to show you the Chapel dedicated to Saint Paul. Like you, Saint Paul was on a journey. His journey was from Jerusalem to Damascus. At the beginning of his journey Saint Paul was persecuting the followers of Jesus, but on that journey Saint Paul also heard the call of Jesus, which changed the course of his entire life. Saint Paul encountered dangers and stresses of many different kinds, but he didn’t give up because he was strengthened by his love of God and God’s love for him, and he was convinced that what he was doing was the right thing to do.

Prayer: We pray for all those who have fled from their homeland to avoid persecution, that they will meet with kindness and understanding on their way to a safer life. We pray, too, for ourselves, that we may let our actions towards others reflect Christ’s love for all people.

Lord, hear us.
Lord, graciously hear us

Whatsoever you do to the least of my sisters, that you do unto me.
Whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers, that you do unto me.

Second Station – The Lady Chapel

Reader: Amal, we know that the walk you are on will lead you to your Mother. And, so, we would like to show you this Chapel which is dedicated to Mary, the Mother of Jesus. Having said ‘yes’ to God’s call, Mary, also embarked on a series of journeys, which are shown in the mosaics around the top of this beautiful Chapel; first there was Mary’s visit to her cousin, Elizabeth, then to Bethlehem and later to Egypt, to escape persecution. Her life, like ours, had moments of great joy as well as great sorrow. She had to follow her son’s journey – Jesus’ journey – to the Cross, and watch Him die, the hardest thing for a parent to bear. But Mary also followed Jesus to Heaven, where she now prays for all of us.

Prayer: Let us pray for all mothers, fathers and those who parent us. Let us thank God for the sacrifices they make and the unconditional love they give their children.

Lord, hear us.
Lord, graciously hear us

And we pray to Mary, who is also our Mother, to intercede for us all as we say together……..

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Whatsoever you do to the least of my sisters, that you do unto me.
Whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers, that you do unto me.

Third Station – The Sanctuary

Reader: Amal, Jesus’ journey through life did not end with His death on the Cross; through his Resurrection, He is still with us, present in the Eucharist, which is celebrated daily on this altar. Jesus in the Eucharist is the food for our journey through life, sustaining us when times are difficult and when our path is hard to follow and accept, which guides us to follow His ways of justice and peace.

Prayer: Let us pray that we can spread hope to those who are suffering persecution; may our minds and hearts be filled with Christ’s love and may we respond with generosity to those who reach out to us in need.

Lord, hear us.
Lord, graciously hear us

Cardinal Vincent led the congregation in praying the ‘Our Father’, followed by a reading from St Matthew’s Gospel:

‘People brought little children to Jesus for him to lay his hands on them and say a prayer. The disciples turned them away, but Jesus said. ‘Let the little ones alone, and do not stop them coming to me, for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs’. Then he laid his hands on them and gave them his blessing’.

Matthew 19: 13 -15

Amal embraces reader Megan Pereira from St Michael & St Martin parish in Hounslow.

Amal greets singers and readers on the sanctuary. The Sri Lankan, Congolese, Syro-Malabar and Zimbabwean Chaplaincies are all represented.

At the end of the service Amal received a birthday card from students at St James Catholic High School in Barnet and a gift of a ceramic angel made by students at Caritas St Joseph’s Pastoral Centre, Hendon.

It is hoped that the occasion  will bear fruit in the on-going work of the Diocese of Westminster which will aid the cause of refugees and migrants.

View the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales Flickr account for all pictures from the day:

Little Amal, The Migrant Puppet, Visits Westminster Cathedral

See also – Little Amal is Welcomed at Westminster Cathedral

Good Chance Little Amal – The Walk website

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.”

Little Amal to Visit Westminster Cathedral on Monday 25th October, 2pm

Little Amal, a 3.5m puppet of a refugee girl, is walking  from the border of  Turkey / Syria to Manchester, 8000km,  in search of her mother. On her journey she will visit Westminster Cathedral on Monday 25th October at 2.00pm where she will be welcomed on the steps by Cardinal Vincent and invited to join the congregation gathered inside.

Amal has already visited Pope Francis in Rome and will be welcomed to St Paul’s Cathedral, London, on Saturday 23rd October, among a number of other cultural and religious landmarks in the UK who are preparing to host her.

You are invited to join Cardinal Vincent for this Welcome Liturgy from the Catholic community and significant event showing solidarity with those who make difficult and dangerous journeys to reach safety and sanctuary in this country.

We hope people of all nationalities from around the Diocese will be there to welcome Amal. It is during half term week, which provides an opportunity for families to come together.

Amal is celebrating her 10th birthday the day beforehand, on 24th October, so we will also be wishing her a happy birthday as part of the service.

Further information about Little Amal’s journey is available at  https://www.walkwithamal.org/

There is an educational pack available for schools at https://www.walkwithamal.org/education/

Please be seated by 1.45pm.

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: