St Francis of Assisi, 4th October

By Amy Smith, Westminster Justice and Peace Communications Volunteer, who has been learning about the life of St Francis, his connection to the Season of Creation and the inspiration he provided for Pope Francis.

Giovanni di Petro di Bernardone, better known as Saint Francis of Assisi, was born in Assisi in 1181. He founded the Franciscan order of monks, the Poor Clares (female), and a lay community. He died in 1226 and was later canonised after 2 years as the patron saint of animals and ecology. His feast day is celebrated on the 4th October.

His consecration to poverty and charity drew thousands of followers. As the son of a cloth merchant, he dreamed of becoming a knight but after several visions from God eventually dedicated himself to solitude and prayer. One such vision where he felt God commanding him to ‘repair the church’ lead him to renounce his own troubled family relationships and possessions and commit himself to God and those in poverty.

He began to preach repentance as a layperson and attracted many followers from all walks of life.

His vision was for an order that expressed God’s brotherhood and love to all creation, including the natural world. He encountered God in all things viewing it as an expression of His generous love:

‘Praised be you my Lord, through our sister mother earth, who sustains us and directs us, bringing forth all kinds of fruits and coloured flowers and herbs.’

One famous story tells of Francis preaching to hundreds of birds about being thankful to God for their independence and His care. According to the story the birds remained still and only flew away when Francis allowed them to leave.

Pope Francis comments on his radical approach in Laudato Si’:

‘The poverty and austerity of Saint Francis were no mere veneer of asceticism, but something much more radical: a refusal to turn reality into an object simply to be used and controlled.’

Laudato Si’, 11 (2015)

Hopefully his mark on the world leads us to question our own relationship with nature, to treat it with dignity and respect all of life as uniquely created by God.

Prayer of St Francis

Dear Mother Earth,

Who day by day unfolds rich blessing on our way
O Praise God! Alleluia!

The fruits and flowers that verdant grow,
Let them his praise abundant show.

O praise God, O praise God,
Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia.

Report from the Southern Dioceses Network Meeting 12th September 2022

Southern Dioceses Environment Network 12th September 2022: Presentation by Shanon Shah, Director, Faith for the Climate

We were delighted to welcome Shanon Shah, the Director of Faith for the Climate, as our guest speaker for the first meeting this term of the Southern Dioceses Environment Network.

Faith for the Climate is a network that aims to equip, inspire, and encourage faith inspired action on issues of climate change across the UK. All faiths and spiritualities are welcome.

Shanon Shah is a Malaysian Muslim who came to the UK in 2010. He joined the team at Faith for the Climate in 2020.

The organisation aims to unite those of faith together in the environmental justice space and to encourage learning from the different faith traditions. It was a way to target the UK government and show solidarity with those who suffer the worse impact of climate change despite doing the least to contribute.

The group meet regularly online with two priorities in the lead up to COP-26: new and additional money for loss and damage, ending fossil fuel subsidies. The UK government has made some progress with the second focus, therefore, most energy was focused on loss and damage.

Loss and Damage is part of the architecture of the Paris Agreement which includes three main pillars of climate action; mitigation of climate emissions, adaption to live with the impact of climate change, loss and damage. Loss and damage is when the impact of climate change is so severe that adaption/mitigation is not possible e.g. as a result of sea level rises, extreme weather events.

The UK government has historically blocked negotiations on loss and damage.

At COP-19, in 2013, the Warsaw international mechanism for Loss and damage was established in response to the typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. At COP-25 in Madrid, the Santiago network on loss and damage was established to implement the Warsaw mechanism. It called for richer countries to offer compensation. At COP-26, there was a push for clarity on how the Santiago network would be implemented.

The Glasgow Dialogue on Loss and Damage was established post COP-26. Many questions on how to address the issue are undecided, but it is climbing the agenda with the first awareness day last year. This is largely due to the efforts of faith communities.

The UK has faced financial difficulty this year due to the war in Ukraine, cost of living crisis etc. which has made it more difficult to talk about loss and damage. Despite our own issues we must not forget countries such as Pakistan which is now 1/3 under water with the displacement of 50 million people and 10 billion US dollars’ worth of damage. These poorer countries are suffering the worst effects of climate change despite contributing the least. The impacts of extreme weather events are far greater for them and they are still struggling with debt.

It seems only fair that the big polluters have the most responsibility to pay compensation for loss and damage. It is a moral issue that lies at the centre of many faiths; we are all interconnected.

The next Loss and Damage Awareness Day will be on the 22nd September; including a walk of witness to Parliament Square via the Shell headquarters. Gathering at St. John’s Church, Waterloo, 10.30am. It will join those doing an interfaith fast for loss and damage.

22 September – Loss and Damage Awareness Day
10.30am Meet at St John’s Waterloo, 73 Waterloo Rd, London SE1 8TY
11.30am Walk to the Shell headquarters for a vigil
12.00pm Walk to Parliament Square
Loss and Damage Day of Action London

We then broke into small groups to consider the question: “In what ways does the topic of Loss and Damage resonate with this year’s theme for the Season of Creation – Listen to the Voice of Creation?”

Links

Faith for the Climate
Loss and Damage Day of Action London
Southern Dioceses Environment Network
Key Climate Dates in 2022

The Journey to 2030 website has been revamped with several sections for new resources. Check it out at:

https://journeyto2030.org new homepage
https://journeyto2030.org/let-us-dream/ let us dream activity*
https://journeyto2030.org/getting-started-2/ The new getting started and resources page
https://journeyto2030.org/poster-activity/ – The ‘building a caring community’ activity poster page

*You can order packs of the ‘Let Us Dream’ activity to use with your church group / parish.

The next meeting of the Southern Dioceses Environment Network is on Monday 10th October, 12.45-2.00pm. Register with Eventbrite

Kew Gardens Outing Thursday 15th September 11am

Praying at Kew Gardens with CAFOD, Caritas and Justice & Peace, 9th August 2022

We liked our visit to Kew Gardens in August so much that we want to go back!

All are welcome to join Colette Joyce & Fr Dominic Robinson SJ on 15th September, 11am-4pm for another opportunity to see the famous botanical gardens – this time during the Season of Creation.

We will visit the Food Forever exhibition in the morning with time to explore the gardens in the afternoon.

Purchase own tickets in advance via the Kew website (for a small reduction) or on arrival and meet inside the ticket barriers at the Victoria Gate at 11.00am where we will begin and end the day with prayers. You can bring a picnic or buy food in the café for lunch.

Contact Colette to let her know you are coming on colettejoyce@rcdow.org.uk or 07593 434905.

Mass for the Season of Creation – Farm Street Church, Saturday 3rd September 2022, 4.00pm

All are invited to join the Southern Dioceses Environment Network for their first ever Mass for the Season of Creation.

The celebrant is Fr Dominic Robinson SJ, Parish Priest at Farm Street and Chair of the Westminster Justice and Peace Commission.

The Mass will be followed by refreshments in the Arrupe Hall, with a chance to view displays and find resources on the care of creation.

From the Celebration Guide

This year we will unite around the theme, “Listen to the Voice of Creation.”

The Psalmist declares, “The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims God’s handiwork. Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night declares knowledge…their voice is not heard; yet their voice goes out through all the Earth, and their words to the end of the world.” (19: 1-4)

During the Season of Creation, our common prayer and action can help us listen for the voices of those who are silenced. In prayer we lament the individuals, communities, species, and ecosystems who are lost, and those whose livelihoods are threatened by habitat loss and climate change. In prayer we centre the cry of the Earth and the cry of the poor.

“I have heard their cry…I know their sufferings…Come, now! I will send you…I will be with you” (Ex 3:1-12)

Links

Southern Dioceses Environment Network

Ideas and Resources for the Season of Creation

Bishop John Arnold: It’s time to sprint towards climate action

Source: Independent Catholic News

The episcopal lead for the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales on the Environment, Bishop John Arnold of Salford, has called for more urgent action on the climate crisis. In a statement on his diocesan website on 23 July, after a record-breaking heatwave in the UK, he said:

“This is not going to just peak and then we’ll hear no more of it. It’s going to get gradually worse. We are warming the globe and we’re not reacting quickly enough to avoid the damage or to even begin to repair the damage that we’ve done. We’ve already been told that some of the damage is irreparable, so we’ve got to think and we’ve got to act. Unfortunately, the government is not fulfilling the promises made at COP26…. The politics of our nation must take full measure of climate change and the climate crisis.

“I know that we’re jogging along, showing an interest in climate change – but jogging is not enough. We’ve got to start sprinting at this stage to make sure that we are caring for our common home and our brothers and sisters.”

He described the recent heatwave as a “wake-up call,” saying, “this week, we’ve witnessed temperatures never before reached here in the UK and, here in our own diocese, temperatures also saw record highs as some parishes nudged 40 degrees and firefighters battled flames in nearby communities.”

Bishop John thanked parishes and schools already working to live more sustainably and campaign for environmental justice. Bishop Arnold invited involvement in the second diocesan Walk for Creation on Sunday 2nd October.

Mass for the Season of Creation at Farm Street Church, Saturday, 3 September 2022, 4pm

Southern Dioceses Environment Network

Resources for the Season of Creation

‘Hope for our world’; a reflection on volunteering with ‘Justice and Peace’

I have been privileged to attend the ‘Southern Environment Diocesan Network’ meetings, which are open to all with participants including members of CAFOD, Diocesan staff and volunteers, Laudato Si’ Animators, clergy, parishioners, religious and activists. We have met together for mutual support and encouragement for our efforts to tackle climate change in our work and home environments.

We were fortunate to receive input on all aspects of the climate, in order for us to inform those around us. Recently we learnt about ‘Biodiversity’ and how Climate Change is causing widespread devastation to all species and habitats on this planet. Clearly, there needs to be a dramatic reduction in our carbon emissions as individuals and organisations in order to protect the future and diversity of all life on earth. The mission of the network is inspired by the principles of Catholic Social Teaching set out by Pope Francis in his encyclical ‘Laudato Si’ which draws upon scripture to highlights our duty as Catholics to care for the earth and each other.

For me the experience highlighted the reality and urgency of the crisis which is often easy for us to forget amongst the business of our lives and the fact that real change is only possible if we take responsibility as individuals. It is only by the accumulation of our efforts that there can be hope for the future of life on this earth. With prayer and support of one another, we can have the strength to ‘take up our cross’ (Matthew 16: 24,26) whatever form this may take so we can protect God’s creation for future generations.

By Amy Smith

Links

Southern Diocese Environment Network

10 Environmental Priorities from Friends of the Earth

Source: Friends of the Earth

The next leader of the Conservative Party and the next Prime Minister must aspire to make the UK a global leader on climate change, nature restoration and environmental health. The environment needs to be centre stage in their campaign. Below are 10 commitments that a candidate, who’s genuinely  commited to the environment, should be comfortable in making. If delivered, they would make a substantial difference to people’s lives and the environment and demonstrate global leadership.

  1. Invest in the biggest ever UK-wide home insulation programme through a council-led street by street programme and provide additional financial support to low-income households.
  2. Reject calls for the scrapping of the moratorium on fracking and the development of any new oil, gas, or coal extraction and instead say ‘yes’ to the rapid growth of onshore and offshore renewable energy.
  3. Accept the Office for Environmental Responsibility’s recommendations for stronger targets for nature restoration and air quality, reverse plans to weaken habitats and environmental assessment laws, and swiftly implement the Environmental Land Management Scheme to reward nature-friendly farming.
  4. Support calls for the human right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment to be recognised by the UN General Assembly and put this into UK law, as an essential part of protecting people’s health and eradicating environmental inequalities.
  5. Fix the Net Zero Strategy so it delivers on legally binding carbon reduction targets and the commitments made at COP26, ensuring all departments in Whitehall deliver their part, including the Treasury.
  6. Decentralise power and resources to devolved nations and councils so that they can properly eradicate environmental inequalities, deliver on the Climate Change Act, restore nature and ensure planning rules are in line with the climate and ecological emergency.
  7. Introduce a new UK Business, Human Rights and Environment Act to make companies accountable for environmental damage and human rights abuses in their overseas supply chains and to eliminate the UK’s role in global deforestation.
  8. Follow through on the UK’s world-leading commitment to ending the financing of fossil fuel projects abroad by speeding up the decarbonisation of the UK Export Finance agency’s portfolio. This must include withdrawing funding from the Mozambique gas project and switching financial support to renewable energy.
  9. Ensure all new trade deals have strong, enforceable climate change and nature protection safeguards and that food standards and nature-friendly farming are not undermined by imports produced to lower environmental standards.
  10. Make the UK a beacon of democracy by reversing draconian restrictions on protest, guarantee the independence of the Electoral Commission, stop the attacks on the Human Rights Act, and ensure citizens can challenge unjust decisions through the courts.

More details on Friends of the Earth’s policy recommendations

Season of Creation 2022, 1st September-4th October, Celebration Guide available now!

Invitation to join the Season of Creation

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

The Season of Creation is the annual Christian celebration to listen and respond together to the cry of Creation: the ecumenical family around the world unites to pray and protect our common home.

The Season “Celebration” begins on 1 September, the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, and ends on 4 October, the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of ecology beloved by many Christian denominations.

This year we will unite around the theme, “Listen to the Voice of Creation.”

The Psalmist declares, “The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims God’s handiwork. Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night declares knowledge…their voice is not heard; yet their voice goes out through all the Earth, and their words to the end of the world.” (19: 1-4)

During the Season of Creation, our common prayer and action can help us listen for the voices of those who are silenced. In prayer we lament the individuals, communities, species, and ecosystems who are lost, and those whose livelihoods are threatened by habitat loss and climate change. In prayer we centre the cry of the Earth and the cry of the poor.

May this 2022 Season of Creation renew our ecumenical unity, renewing and uniting us by our bond of Peace in one Spirit, in our call to care for our common home. And may this season of prayer and action be a time to Listen to the Voice of Creation, so that our lives in words and deeds proclaim good news for all the Earth.

In God’s grace,

Members of the Season of Creation Advisory Committee

Click here to find out more about the Season of Creation

Join us at Kew Gardens on 9th August, 11am, to visit the Food Forever Festival

Kew Gardens Outing to the ‘Food Forever Festival’ with Westminster Justice & Peace, CAFOD and Caritas

This summer holidays, why not join us for a visit to see the world-famous botanical gardens and explore Kew’s exhibition on the future of sustainable food?

Protecting sustainable food sources is a major theme of social justice that is of great concern to CAFOD, Caritas and Justice & Peace.

Tony Sheen (CAFOD Westminster Community Participation Co-ordinator), Niki Psarias (Caritas Westminster Lead for Food) and Colette Joyce (Westminster Justice and Peace Co-ordinator) are coming together to lead this day out, enjoying the beauty of nature at Kew Gardens while learning more about this essential topic.

We will meet together inside the Gardens at the Victoria Gate entrance at 11am for an introduction to the festival and again in the same place at 4pm for a time of sharing and a closing prayer.

You are welcome to walk with us or to explore the gardens at your own pace.

There will be the option to bring a picnic to eat together (weather permitting!) or you can go independently to any of Kew’s restaurants or food outlets.

You will need to book your own tickets. We recommend doing this at the earliest opportunity, booking in advance on the Kew website, to ensure your place, although tickets can also be purchased on the day. Tickets vary in price depending on number and type bought. A standard single adult ticket booked online in advance costs £15.

Book Tickets on the Kew Gardens website

Note that there are special rates for children, families, young people, students, visitors with disabilities and senior citizens 65+

There is a special price of £1 for people on Universal Credit, Pension Credit or Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).

For more information, or to let us know you will be joining us, please contact Colette Joyce colettejoyce@rcdow.org.uk   or call her on 07593 434 905

Kew Gardens Food Forever Festival

Mass for the Season of Creation – Saturday 3rd September 2022, Farm Street Church

You are invited to join the Southern Dioceses Environment Network for a Mass to celebrate the opening of the Season of Creation.

The Mass will be held at Farm Street Church, W1K 3AH (nearest tube – Green Park) and the celebrant will be Fr Dominic Robinson SJ.

The Southern Dioceses Environment Network was launched in January 2022 and organises monthly online meetings to support Catholics and our friends who share a concern for the care of creation. Anyone can join and participants include CAFOD volunteers to Diocesan staff, clergy, religious, parishioners, Laudato Si’ Animators and Christian Climate Action activists.

We are drawn from the Dioceses of Arundel & Brighton, Brentwood, Clifton, East Anglia, Plymouth, Portsmouth, Southwark and Westminster, and also collaborate with the Northern Dioceses Environment Group.

This Mass will be our first in-person event and we warmly invite people who have not been able to attend the meetings, but support our aims, to come along and join us in prayer and networking. Children and families welcome.

There will be refreshments in the Arrupe Hall afterwards, along with displays of work for the environment being carried out around the dioceses.

For more details please contact Colette Joyce on 07593 434905 or email colettejoyce@rcdow.org.uk

Southern Dioceses Environment Network

Season of Creation Resources