Westminster Diocese committed to becoming carbon neutral by 2030

Photo: Lawrence Lew OP

Photo: Lawrence Lew OP

Source: Diocese of Westminster

The Diocese of Westminster has committed to do its utmost to become carbon neutral by 2030 in its parishes and curial buildings. It has also expressed its commitment to working with schools to encourage them to follow the same path.

As Pope Francis explains in Laudato Si’, caring for God’s created world and cooperating with the Holy Spirit in this work of creation is everyone’s responsibility, not least that of the faithful.

Taking the lead and setting an example for others is an important part of this work. To that end the diocese has been working for a number of years to transition away from reliance on carbon fuels and to implement policies that will promote a greener future.

The comprehensive plan, which currently includes 14 policies and 43 separate project streams, focuses on four pillars:

1. Clean energy sources: Since 2017, a concerted effort has been made to transition towards cleaner sources of electricity and gas supply for parishes and diocesan offices. We have worked proactively with other dioceses to establish Inter Fuel Management (IFM), a Catholic mutual which sources energy from green sources. Together with Churchmarketplace, another Catholic mutual owned by the dioceses of England and Wales, which increases our collective purchasing power, we rely on these partners to help us find solutions that will enable the transition to a carbon neutral future. Currently, 100% of the electricity supply is from green sources, as over 70% of the gas supply comes from the by-product of biological processes, with the remainder being offset. As the bio gas market expands, we expect that 100% of our gas supply will come from green sources.

2. Investment policy: For a number of years, we have been working with other churches to use our collective investment portfolios to engage with energy companies to encourage them along the path of decarbonisation. Our investment portfolio does not include shares in any major coal producers, producers of oil from oil sands or in companies that do not engage fully with disclosure projects. In the past couple of years we have taken the additional decision to divest entirely by the end of 2021 from electrical utility and fossil fuel companies that have not taken any steps to manage their businesses in line with the Paris Accord (that is, to limit temperature rises to well below 2C above pre-industrial times). We are on track to meet this objective.

3. Carbon emissions from energy usage in parishes and diocesan buildings: There are two simple, but difficult, steps that will be taking to reduce carbon emissions: a) reducing consumption, and b) eliminating carbon being burnt. Reducing consumption requires a change in each of us, a conversion, to understand that it is up to each one of us to reduce energy use. Today, more than ever, priests and people are very aware of the need to reduce consumption and are already taking steps. It is our hope to continue to encourage everyone to reduce their consumption.

Eliminating carbon emissions as a by-product of consumption is more challenging. It will require changing heating systems in all properties, including diocesan offices, residential units, presbyteries, churches and other ancillary parish buildings. Some of these will be easier to change than others. With changes in technology, it will be possible to install heating systems that use clean energy, such as ground source heating, in residential properties. Changing heating systems in our churches can be substantially more challenging because of the size and nature of these buildings, and the historical listing of some of them. However, we are committed to helping parishes along this journey, and will be focusing on helping those parishes that have higher energy consumption at present to find the right solution, such as underfloor heating which uses electricity.

4. Generating energy: With technology continuing to evolve, we hope that it will be possible for us to generate energy using the various parish and diocesan properties. Some clean energy generation, such as solar panels, can be difficult because of the nature of church roofs, particularly on listed churches. However, other sources, such as ground source energy and wind energy, may prove viable options. We already have a number of successful examples of energy generating systems in parishes and other diocesan properties. These sources of energy can help us accelerate the move away from carbon sources, and provide a viable alternative to the benefit of our communities.

As part of the culture shift, we are also embedding these pillars in our decision-making processes. This will affect every project we undertake, including building and/or refurbishing properties.

We have already made some strides along the path to a carbon neutral future. It is not an easy process, but this is a calling and a responsibility for us all. Working together with everyone, as well as anticipated technological advances and changes in government policies, will enable us to achieve our goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2030.

Supporting the Young Christian Climate Relay

Day 1 – Molly Clarke sets outs on the first leg of the Relay

A group of young Christians (18-30s) are organising a Relay, walking from the G7 in Cornwall (13th June) to COP26 in Glasgow (1st November) for climate justice. People are joining the Relay from thousands of different churches all along the route. Walkers can be of all ages but to be one of the leaders you have to be under 30!

The Relay reaches London on 2nd August and Hertfordshire on 10th August. There will be overnight stops in the parishes of Ashford, Twickenham, Muswell Hill, Borehamwood, Hemel Hempstead and Tring.

Two events are beings hosted on behalf of the Diocese of Westminster in Central London on 6th August – a vegan lunch at Farm Street Church, Mayfair, at 1pm followed by a walk to Westminster Cathedral and an Ecumenical Climate Prayer Service at the Cathedral at 3.30pm.

Friday 6th August, 1.00-3.30pm : YCCN Climate Relay  Lunch at Farm Street and Walk to Westminster Cathedralhttps://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/163375276851

Friday 6th August 3.30-4.00pm: Ecumenical Climate Prayer Service at Westminster Cathedral Welcoming the YCCN Relayhttps://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/163372454409

To find out more about the YCCN Relay, the route, events at all the other churches, and how to sign up to join the walkers or support the Relay for a day or more visit – https://www.yccn.uk/

#RiseToTheMoment

Preparing for the Season of Creation

Source: Ellen Teague Independent Catholic News

It is July and I am watching birds pecking at the first signs of tiny fruit on a damson tree in my garden. I don’t mind – there is enough for sharing, and plenty of tasty ripe damsons will be harvested for us and our neighbours in the Autumn. It is wonderful that harvest services in our churches around October have long celebrated the fruitfulness of Earth, our common home, and the generosity of God, the Creator.

In Britain, planning has started for marking the Season of Creation in our parishes and schools. The Season of Creation is the annual Christian celebration of prayer and action, which starts 1 September, the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, and ends 4 October, the Feast of St Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of ecology. Within it is CAFOD’s Harvest Fast Day on 1 October.

United around this year’s theme ‘A home for all?’, Christians are planning to participate in initiatives of prayer, sustainability, and advocacy to care for our common home. Churches are invited to hold a climate-focused service on any Sunday before COP26 this November, but most will be in September. The collective impact of local church commitments and action will be presented to the UK Government at the Climate Sunday Service in Glasgow on Sunday, 5 September 2021 to demonstrate that the Churches are calling on our government to lead the way in delivering a cleaner, greener and fairer future.

This Season of Creation will also be a critical moment for Catholics to prepare to lift up the voices of the most vulnerable and advocate on their behalf ahead of two important summits, the UN Summit on Biodiversity in China (COP 15) in October and the UN Climate Summit in November (COP 26). The National Justice and Peace Network (NJPN), CAFOD, Columbans and others have prepared for the Season of Creation with sample services and resources for the whole month of September and early October. The NJPN annual Conference 23-25 July, ‘2021: Moment of Truth – Action for Life on Earth’, is a great opportunity for hearing about exciting creation-centred initiatives this year.

Ninety-five parishes and schools have now achieved CAFOD’s livesimply award, where they have worked towards projects to live simply, sustainably and in solidarity with the poor. Yet, the focus on Creation in the Autumn attempts to bring many more Catholics on board for caring for our common home. The Season of Creation offers the opportunity for a common witness of the Churches. And the time to do it is now, as the planet continues to warm, causing terrible suffering for the poorest communities on Earth, and many other species are being pushed to extinction.

2021 is also the year when the Vatican Dicastery of Human Development is inviting us to embark on a journey through the ‘Laudato Si’ Action Platform’, to be launched on 4 October 2021. All parts of the Church are expected to embark on this journey to sustainability, in the spirit of ‘Laudato Si’, towards integral ecology. It is hoped that each area pf the Church’s mission will make public commitments to the seven ‘Laudato Si’ goals:

– Response to the Cry of the Earth

– Response to the Cry of the Poor

– Ecological economics

– Adoption of Simple Lifestyle

– Ecological Education

– Ecological Spirituality

– Community Involvement and Participatory Action

Its time to start preparing for September and the Season of Creation.

LINKS:

www.cbcew.org.uk/home/our-work/environment/season-of-creation

https://cafod.org.uk/Pray/Season-of-Creation

Short video review of the Season of Creation 2020 – www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZMdGYmetPW8

Vatican Letter promoting the Season of Creation – https://drive.google.com/file/d/1inZAPqO76fiA9XirHaCc-QCUOUlwXz7P/view

Climate Sunday – www.climatesunday.org

Laudato Si’ Action Platform: https://laudatosiactionplatform.org/

Summer 2021 Columban Vocation for Justice Newsletter, ‘Prepare the Future’ – https://columbans.co.uk/how-you-can-help/subscribe/vocation-for-justice/

A Columban resource, explores the Sunday scripture readings during the Season: www.columban.org.au/catholic-mission-files/pdf/educational-resources/catholic-season-of-creation/2021-year-b/year-b-introduction-2021-web.pdf

Columban Laudato Si’ Study and Action Guide for Individuals and Groups – https://columbans.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/July2016Laudato-Si-Study-and-Action-Guide-by-JPIC-Britain.pdf

Journey to 2030 – Season of Creation Resources – https://journeyto2030.org/praying-with-the-gospels-stories-from-around-the-world-and-excerpts-from-laudato-si/

Countdown to COP26: www.indcatholicnews.com/news/42594

A Celebration of Trees

Tree Walkers, Morpeth Terrace, behind Westminster Cathedral, London, SW1

Source: Ellen Teague, Independent Catholic News

How often do we notice the trees in places familiar to us?..

Why is it important to do so?..

And what does care of trees have to do with our faith?..

On Sunday 27 June, I joined a group finding out about trees in the vicinity of Westminster Cathedral. I’ve visited the area many times since childhood, but hardly noticed them before now.

This was an event as part of London Climate Action Week. The experience, organised by Westminster Justice and Peace, was special because it seems to be the first time that valuing trees was firmly on the agenda of a diocesan body.

It seemed strange to be gathering outside the Cathedral under a banner, ‘Tree Walk from Westminster Cathedral,’ but it shouldn’t have been. Care of Creation is an element of Catholic Social Teaching, all underlined by the 2015 Encyclical, Laudato Si’.

Colette Joyce, Westminster Justice & Peace Co-ordinator, led the two-hour walk. She reflected on the importance of trees within Christian tradition and invited contemplation of some of the many beautiful trees within easy walking distance of Westminster Cathedral.

As we strolled, we were encouraged to think about the nature and purpose of trees, especially their role in maintaining a stable climate that enables all life Earth to exist and thrive. Trees bind soil, remove carbon dioxide from the air and release oxygen, as well as providing a home for many species of birds and insects. Along the way we considered, too, the significance we attach to trees – from the solemn prayer before the wood of the Cross to the celebratory decoration of Christmas trees.

When we met outside Westminster Cathedral’s West Door we were immediately invited to admire the two mature London Plane trees in the piazza. Plane was widely planted as a street tree during the 18th and 19th centuries, being sturdy and suitable for city life for many reasons. It requires little root space and can survive in most soils and a wide range of temperatures. One of these two trees provided welcome shade for my son James who spent a number of hours standing with young people from dioceses around England and Wales waiting to see Pope Benedict during his visit in 2010. The Westminster youth contingent was under the Plane tree nearest the West Door, and he was very grateful.

We learnt that more than half of London’s eight million trees are Planes and they provide the important service of removing pollution from the atmosphere. The mottled olive, brown and grey bark breaks away in large flakes to reveal new cream-coloured bark underneath, a process which cleanses the tree of pollution stored in the outer bark. Each year London’s trees remove 2,241 tonnes of pollution which is a major contribution to public health.

When we moved off down Morpeth Terrace we passed rows of Plane trees and stopped at the end under a statue of St Francis of Assisi for a short reflection and prayer. Then there was Willow Place, named after Willow trees that were formerly common here. And Ginkgo in Rochester Road, a tree which survived the dinosaurs and the ice age, and, Colette told us, was the first tree to recover in Hiroshima after the city was destroyed by a nuclear bomb in August 1945. Then we walked around Vincent Square, a 13-acre green space lined with mature trees including London Plane. In Rutherford Street we admired the Silver Birches, whose white bark reflects heat and whose tolerance to pollution makes them a common sight in urban landscapes. Silver Birches also provides food and habitat to more than 300 insect species.

By gardens near the Cardinal Hume Centre we heard the tenth century, ‘The Dream of the Rood’ and heard how trees are mentioned in the Bible more than any living thing other than God and people. 56 Bible verses talk about trees.

We crossed Victoria Street and sat down in a grassy area for a short reflection on what trees mean to us. “Daily walks in the trees of Dulwich Wood got me though Covid” said one person. “This walk is a spiritual journey, about making a connection with trees,” said another.

“They’re the lungs of the world,” and “we must learn to keep the mature trees, not just plant new ones,” seemed to be common concerns about global deforestation and the HS2 project in particular in Britain. One member of the group lamented the disruption around Euston Station where she lives and has seen several public gardens destroyed and trees axed. We considered the quote from JRR Tolkien on our flier: ‘Every tree has its enemy, few have an advocate. In all my works I take the part of trees against all their enemies.’

Of course, London used to be covered in forest. This is reflected in the fact that so many parts of London are named after trees and woods. There’s the three Oaks (Burnt, Gospel and Honor), Nine Elms, Royal Oak Station, Wood Green, Forest Hill and Forest Gate.

Our final stop was St James’ Park, a green gem of 57 acres and we stopped to admire a Black Mulberry, Weeping Beech and a Caucasian Wingnut! There are around 1,250 individual trees in St James’s Park from around 35 species. The two islands in the lake, with their secluded woodlands and shrubberies, serve as nesting sites and refuges for birds. As we watched the ducks and geese waddling between the trees we thanked Colette profusely for this beautiful experience.

The walk was so successful that she has organised another one on 5 September! Several people have booked in already.

London Climate Action Week Events – 26th June – 4th July 2021

Circular Tree Walk from Westminster Cathedral – Sunday 5 September 2021, 3-5pm
Book with Eventbrite. Free.

Message from the Global Catholic Climate Movement

We cannot afford to have what happened at the G7 meeting happen at two big United Nations summits in October and November.

We must do better: Join Catholics everywhere and sign the “Healthy Planet, Healthy People” petition.

The G7 meeting did produce some good news for our common home, but right now, to be honest, good isn’t good enough. We need bold leadership. We need inspiring action, and we need prophetic agreements from world leaders.

Sign the Health Planet, Healthy People Petition

As Catholics, we owe it to our sisters and brothers around the globe to make sure that world leaders do better later this year. At the United Nations Biodiversity Conference (COP15), scheduled for October in China, global leaders will have the opportunity to set meaningful and robust targets to protect creation.

In November, at the United Nations 26th annual Climate Change Conference (COP26), countries must announce their plans to meet the goals of the historic 2015 Paris agreement.

Between now and October, it’s our responsibility as Catholics to make sure world leaders know how to care for God’s creation.

In the petition we’re calling for leaders to tackle the climate emergency and biodiversity crisis together, and to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, among other must-dos.

This year, we have an opportunity like no other. We can and must let world leaders know what’s at stake. Tell world leaders what you think: Sign the “Healthy Planet, Healthy People petition.”

Blessings,

Tomás Insua
Executive Director
GCCM

Care of Creation Weekly Briefings in London and the South East

Care of Creation London and South-East, Monday Lunchtime Briefing in Laudato Si’ Week, May 2021

Passionate social justice activists from across London and the South-East of England have been coming together on Zoom every Monday lunchtime in 2021 to pray, share ideas, and take unified action for Climate Justice. They discuss all aspects of Care of Creation including preventing habitat loss, protecting biodiversity, eliminating waste, promoting sustainable development, global racial justice, Live Simply Parishes, Journey to 2030, communicating with clergy, parishioners and bishops, and building ecumenical and interfaith partnerships.

The gatherings take place at 1.00-1.45pm every Monday and will continue in the lead-up to the UN Climate Conference COP26 in Glasgow, 1-12 November 2021.

The Briefings were initiated by staff and volunteers from diocesan Justice and Peace Commissions, CAFOD and the Laudato Si’ Animators (a group who have received training via the Global Catholic Climate Movement) and bring together Catholics from five dioceses – Arundel & Brighton, Brentwood, Portsmouth, Southwark and Westminster – as a means to create a unified approach among Catholics in London and the South-East during this critical year for environmental action.

There is a report from each Diocese every week, a time of prayer, and presentations on environmental issues of interest. Guest speakers who have presented to the group so far include: Danny Sweeney (Co-ordinator, J & P Scotland) on preparations for COP26 in Glasgow by Justice & Peace Scotland, Maria Elena Arana (CAFOD Livesimply Co-ordinator) on national CAFOD campaigns, Jane Mellett (European Co-ordinator, Laudato Si’ Animators) on Global Catholic Climate Movement campaigning, Molly Clarke and Flo Wright (Young Christian Climate Network organisers) on the YCCN Relay, Cornwall G7 to Glasgow COP26, and London Residency, 5th-8th August, and Caitlin Boyle (CAFOD volunteer) reporting on the young adult action at the G7 in Cornwall.

Dr Emma Gardner (Head of Environment, Diocese of Salford) and Edward de Quay (Laudato Si’ Research Institute) will speak at the next meeting on Monday 28th June, 1pm.

A weekly newsletter is circulated to participants after every meeting. The group is growing rapidly and now has over 50 people signed up. New members are always welcome and we hope that more people from the five dioceses will come on board as we get closer to COP26 and the opportunity it presents to appeal to government and big business to step up their climate ambition, as the times demand. Attendees can drop in to just one Briefing during the year or come every week, as suits them. Guests from beyond the five dioceses are always welcome!

If you would like to attend the meetings or be added to the Care of Creation mailing list please email Colette Joyce, Westminster Justice and Peace Co-ordinator, colettejoyce@rcdow.org.uk.

The meetings are open to anyone who cares about the environment and is sympathetic to the Catholic community and Catholic Social Teaching.

Prayed at Care of Creation Briefing on 14th June 2021

Patient Trust

Above all, trust in the slow work of God.
We are quite naturally impatient in everything
    to reach the end without delay.

We should like to skip the intermediate stages.
We are impatient of being on the way to something
    unknown, something new.

And yet it is the law of all progress
    that it is made by passing through
    some stages of instability—
    and that it may take a very long time.

And so I think it is with you;
    your ideas mature gradually—let them grow,
    let them shape themselves, without undue haste.

Don’t try to force them on,
    as though you could be today what time
    (that is to say, grace and circumstances acting on your own good will)
     will make of you tomorrow.

Only God could say what this new spirit
    gradually forming within you will be.

Give Our Lord the benefit of believing
    that his hand is leading you,
    and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself
    in suspense and incomplete.

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, SJ
excerpted from Hearts on Fire

CAFOD G7 Interfaith Event – Thursday 10th June, 7pm Livestreamed from Truro Cathedral

Building a Better World after the Pandemic

 CAFOD (Catholic Agency for Overseas Development) is live-streaming an event organised in conjunction with Christian Aid, Tearfund, World Vision, Islamic Relief and Faith for the Climate on Thursday 10th June at 7.00-8.00pm

It will be hosted by Truro Cathedral for people of faith to reflect ahead of the G7 summit and send a message to world leaders. 

The G7 summit will see heads of government of seven of the world’s richest countries – including President Joe Biden – travel to Cornwall and discuss how the world can rebuild after the coronavirus pandemic.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has a crucial role to play, with the UK holding the presidency of the G7, CAFOD wants to send a message to him and the other G7 leaders that people of faith in the UK and around the world expect them to put in place plans for a global and green recovery from the crisis which leaves no one behind. 

The pandemic means people can’t all travel to Cornwall to send this message to the leaders at the summit.

But that doesn’t stop people from coming together online in an act of witness. 
So, instead of travelling to Cornwall, CAFOD invites people to join together on laptops, tablets or phones at an event on Thursday 10 June.

There will be reflections on the impact of the pandemic, rebuilding and sending a digital message to the presidents and prime ministers ahead at the start of their meeting the next day.

Visit the CAFOD website and register to watch online

Global Healing Lent Series 2021

Let ours be a time remembered for the awakening of a new reverence for life, the firm resolve to achieve sustainability, the quickening of the struggle for justice and peace, and the joyful celebration of life.   

Pope Francis, Laudato Si’ (207)

For the six Thursdays of Lent 2021, hundreds of people from across the country joined together online for a Lent course exploring the theme of care for our common home as developed in the films Global Healing and Global Caring, with the help of a panel of expert speakers. The series was facilitated by the UK Laudato Si’ Animators from the Global Catholic Climate Movement. Each session is accompanied by a hand-out with helpful ideas and information for follow-up action, prayer and reflection, designed to help us unite around the common goal of hearing the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor – the very heart of the encyclical Laudato Si’ and the gospel imperative to all Christians and people of goodwill. We hope you will join us in the task that lies ahead in this deeply significant year as the UK government hosts the UN climate conference, COP26, in Glasgow 1-12 November 2021.

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