Westminster Justice & Peace E-Bulletin June 2023

John Coleby, Director, Caritas Westminster

John Coleby, Director of Caritas Westminster, writes:

I am writing this note as I come to the end of my time as Director of Caritas Westminster. The time of the Spirit compels us to remember the fundamentals of our faith. Jesus is risen; he has shown us how to live and in doing so we experience that love the Father has for all his creation. He has sent us the spirit of love, forgiveness, service and justice to transform us and our world. We are on our own roads to Emmaus or Damascus. It seems to me we have the roadmap and the clues and yet on all levels we struggle to consistently stay on the path. I think this is what it so challenging to live a fully Christian life and why the social teaching of the Church is its best-kept secret.

In recent times, we have seen years of austerity and increasing levels of poverty, the global pandemic, the war in Ukraine, the cost of living crisis, wars in the horn of Africa and North Africa, floods and droughts and fires caused by ongoing environmental degradation. As a worker for social justice one can feel overwhelmed and, at times, without hope. But while these occurrences are disturbing, I do find hope – in the greater part because I have observed and experienced the love, forgiveness, service and fight for justice by ordinary people who are moved by the Spirit to carry on in the face of such challenges and get stuff done and show God to the world.

I see God’s love demonstrated in the quality of relationships we build with people with intellectual disabilities, people in need of food, people excluded because they are deaf, people recovering from domestic abuse and modern slavery, people who are alone and frightened, people seeking sanctuary. I see the commitment to loving neighbour as self and the recognition that as Church we are to listen to all people, thus affirming their dignity and ensuring they are the architects of their own futures. Love is made concrete in acts of service to our fellow human beings and so, together with forgiveness and reconciliation, we seek justice for a fairer world where everybody has a place and where everybody’s story is worthy of being heard and appreciated.

It has been a privilege to work alongside Justice and Peace colleagues during my time as Director of Caritas Westminster. I will cherish your profound questioning and call for radical change so that people may find God’s love in everyone they encounter.

Fr Dominic and Colette write: We thank John for his time of service on the Westminster Justice and Peace Commission and for all his good work establishing and leading Caritas Westminster over the past eleven years. We wish him well for the next chapter of his life and look forward to welcoming the new Director in due course.

Join us for a Visit to Kew Gardens, Thursday 1st June 11am

Plants of the Qur’an by Sue Wickison © Sam Lynch

Outing to Kew Gardens

  • Thursday, 1 June 2023
  • 11:00 am – 4:00 pm
  • Kew Gardens, Victoria Gate, TW9 3JR, United Kingdom (map)

All are welcome to join the Farm Street Parish Outing to Kew Gardens on Thursday 1st June, 11am-4pm.

We will be accompanied by the Westminster Justice and Peace Co-ordinator, Colette Joyce.

We will visit the Plants of the Qur’an exhibition in the morning with time to explore the gardens in the afternoon. Please purchase your own tickets in advance via the Kew website (there are different pricing options) or on arrival.

The meeting point is just inside the ticket barriers at the Victoria Gate entrance 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. Please email Fr Dominic Robinson – dominicrobinson@rcdow.org.uk – to let us know you are coming or just join us on the day.

Kew Gardens Tickets

Westminster host launch of new book published by the Laudato Si’ Research Centre exploring resonances between Laudato Si’ and the Qur’an, by Islamic scholar Farhana Mayer

Source: LRSI

The Laudato Si’ Research Institute, based at Campion Hall, University of Oxford, in collaboration with the Randeree Charitable Trust, celebrated on 23rd May 2023 at Westminster Cathedral Hall the launch of the book: Al-Ḥamdu li’llāhi Rabbi’l-ʿĀlamīn ‘Praise to God, Lord of the Worlds’: An Introduction to Qur’anic Ecology and Resonances with Laudato Si’.

This study, written by Qur’anic hermeneutics scholar Farhana Mayer,  unpacks the multiple resonances of Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si’ with the Qur’an. It demonstrates significant common ground on perceptions of the natural world as a precious part of God’s creation, the interrelatedness of all creation, the understanding of humankind as the being in whom earth and spirit are conjoined, the need for divine guidance, and others. The book dwells especially on the most beautiful names of God – the Compassionate, the Merciful, the Lord-Nurturer, the Kind, the Nourisher, the Guide – and on ethical and ecological principles for human action that can be derived from these.

During the event, Bishop John Sherrington, the Auxiliary Bishop for Westminster, responded to the book by highlighting many areas that resonate with the Catholic Social Teaching tradition. He noted that speaking of ‘resonances’ instead of the usual ‘similarities and differences’ between faiths was more uniting. This need to deepen our common ground in the face of our complex contemporary ecological challenges was emphasised by all panellists.

Fazlun Khalid, a pioneer of Islamic ecological thought, argued that over the course of the last two centuries humanity has shifted from a focus on the divine to a focus on the human, and latterly to a focus on the mechanistic. One particular sentence from the Laudato Si’ encyclical – “there can be no renewal of our relationship with nature without a renewal of humanity itself” (§118) was cited many times. All faiths need to work together to turn the tide of what Laudato Si’ calls “the modern myth of unlimited material progress” (§78) and to rediscover humanity’s place in creation, and balance (mizan in the Qur’an), in reference to a forthcoming milestone document Al-Mizan: A Covenant for the Earth, for all Muslims worldwide. The virtues of moderation and learning to live with less were mentioned as central to this rebalancing of humanity’s relationship with the earth.

Rabiah Mali, founder of the Green Deen Tribe, which seeks to heal the wounds of separation and lack of access to nature for Muslim women, shared in her contribution how overcoming a sense of fear of being in nature as an unsafe place – which has been the experience for many women in the world – was fundamental. That the same word is used in Arabic for compassion (raḥim) and for a woman’s womb is a powerful way of seeing the presence of the divine in all life that is germinating in nature.

Colette Joyce, the Justice and Peace coordinator of the Westminster Diocese, in response to a question about the usefulness of conceptual work for practical action, highlighted the importance of concepts in the formation of people. Concepts, as described in this book, include mercy, integrity, equitability, and others, and are essential for people to be formed in mercy, integrity, or what Christian ethics would call virtue formation.

For Fr Damian Howard SJ, Provincial of the Jesuits in Britain, the formation of virtues, and deep listening to each other in a way that is transformative, provides a way forward for further Christian-Muslim collaboration. He commented, “Farhana Mayer’s book is quite exceptional. Here is a distinguished Muslim theologian who has set herself the task of listening with incredible sensitivity to the text of a papal encyclical and allowing it to spark off reflections and what she calls “resonances” in her own religious tradition. I have never come across anything like it as a gesture of hospitality and bridge-building between Catholicism and Islam.”

There is only one home, and we are one family. The LSRI hopes that this book – the Qur’anic Resonances of Laudato Si’ – will be a means to bring that family closer as together we seek to care for our common home.

The book can be downloaded for free as an e-book here.

It is the fruit of the Qur’anic Resonances of Laudato Si’ project, part of the Christian-Muslim Dialogue on Integral Ecology research cluster at the LSRI that aims to explore the comparative perspective between Christian and Muslim traditions.

Love the Stranger: Refugee Support Event at Farm Street, 24 May, 7pm

Rooting our response to refugees and migrants in the innate worth of each human person.

Bishop Paul McAleenan, lead bishop for migrants and refugees for the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales joins Bishop John Perumbalath, Anglican Bishop of Liverpooland Chair of Churches Refugee Network, for an evening with the London Churches Refugee Fund

Frontline workers from the projects supported by the fund will also be giving testimonies at the event.

‘Love the Stranger’ , Church of the Immaculate Conception, Farm Street, W1K 3AH, Wednesday, 24 May 2023, at 7pm.

The Citizens of the World Choir will also be performing.

Followed by refreshments, meeting and greetings in the Arrupe Hall.

For further details email info@lcrf.org.uk or visit: www.lcrf.org.uk/

Laudato Si’ Week, 21-28 May 2023

8th Anniversary

People around the world are being invited to celebrate Laudato Si’ Week 2023 from 21-28 May with the theme: Hope for the Earth, Hope for Humanity.

Laudato Si’ Week 2023 marks the eighth anniversary of Pope Francis’ landmark encyclical on care for creation. Laudato Si’ was first published 24 May 2015.

Communities are invited to base their celebrations around the 2022 film “The Letter” which tells the story of a journey to Rome of five frontline leaders – Arouna, Ridhima, Chief Dadá, Greg and Robin, respectively representing the poor, the youth of the world, the indigenous peoples and earth scientists – to discuss the encyclical letter Laudato Si’ with Pope Francis. 

This global celebration will unite Catholics to rejoice in the progress we have made in bringing Laudato Si’ to life, and show how the protagonists of “The Letter” are already doing so. The film can be watched for free online.

Visit the Laudato Si’ Week website for the link to watch The Letter

Laudato Si’ Week in South Sudan

Another idea for Laudato Si’ Week is to follow the Solidarity with South Sudan programme.

Every day Solidarity with South Sudan will publish news and stories from the South Sudan, the world’s newest country, to show you how their projects and communities meet the Laudato Sì Goals.

You can visit their website and Social media from 21 May to 28 May to remain updated on the Solidarity mission in South Sudan.

Prayer for Laudato Si’ Week 2023


Laudato Si’ Week Ideas

Care of Creation Resources

Care of Creation Key Dates

Southern Dioceses Environment Network

Diocese of Westminster Road to Carbon Neutrality

Our Lady of Victories Event 30 May, 7pm. Untold Stories: The Holy Land and Us ~ What can we learn?

Sarah Agha Headshots by Michael Shelford

Join us for this conversation between Sarah Agha, co-presenter of the acclaimed BBC2 series with Dr Harry Hagopian, ecumenical consultant, international lawyer & analyst on the MENA & Gulf regions.

This event, moderated by Mgr James Curry, is inspired by the recently-acclaimed BBC2 documentary featuring Sarah Agha and Rob Rinder.

We hope to gain some insight into the Palestinian al-Nakba or the Great Catastrophe – the name given to the dramatic and multi-layered impact upon Palestinians following the creation of the State of Israel in 1948.

Where? Our Lady of Victories in the Parish Centre, 235a Kensington High Street, W8

When? Tuesday, May 30th, 7-8.30pm

All welcome. Admission is free, no ticket needed .We do ask you to register on Eventbrite if possible : simply to help us keep a tab on numbers. Refreshments will follow the conversation

Register here: https://untold-stories.eventbrite.co.uk

The documentary (in two 75-minute episodes) is on BBC i-Player: www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m001k3wj

You can also watch Dr Hagopian’s take of the two narratives on his You-Tube channel: https://youtu.be/Vm-qvByXHIc

Three Free Places for Young Adults (18-35) at the NJPN Conference 21-23 July 2023

Westminster Justice & Peace has three free places to offer to young adults (18-35) at the forthcoming National Justice and Peace Network Conference, 21-23 July 2023.

In return, we invite you to help as a volunteer at the event with tasks such as running our stall at the Just Fair, stewarding or helping with music and liturgy.

The Conference is being held at: The Hayes Conference Centre, Swanwick, Derbyshire, DE55 1AU

All expenses will be covered including conference fees, accommodation, meals and travel.

Applicants must live, work or worship within the Diocese of Westminster.

To apply – please send a short message to the Co-ordinator, Colette Joyce, giving your name, address, phone number and email address and a brief description of why you are interested in this opportunity. Short-listed applicants will be invited to an online interview. Email: colettejoyce@rcdow.org.uk

Closing Date: 26 May 2023

Conference Information

The weekend involves presentations of on the themes of ‘Sustainability? Survival or Shutdown?’ and provides opportunities for networking and prayer with Catholics and others from across the country, sharing an interest in world peace and promotion of social justice.

The weekend includes consideration of the UN Sustainability Goals and integrity in public life. There will be talks, workshops, ‘The Letter’ film screening, a Just Fair with stalls from many different charities and organisations, and time for socialising. Speakers include Christine Allen (Director, CAFOD) and Brian O’Toole (Presentation Sisters Social Justice Desk). The Conference Mass will be celebrated by Fr Dominic Robinson SJ (Chair of Westminster Justice & Peace Commission).

National Justice & Peace Network

Nakba National March, London, Saturday 13 May 2023

Nakba 75:  National March, London – Saturday 13th May 2023

Catholic peace organisation, Pax Christi, will be among many other groups joining the national march organised by Palestine Solidarity Campaign in London this coming Saturday to mark the 75th anniversary of the ongoing Nakba.

The assembly point is the BBC, Portland Place W1A from 12pm.  Let them know on info@paxchristi.org.uk if you are coming along or look out for the Pax Christi banners on the day.  

Palestinian Solidarity Campaign

Pax Christi

Next Prayer Vigil outside the Home Office for Migrants and Refugees – 15th May, 12.30-1.30pm

Prayer Vigil for Migrants and Refugees

Date: May 15th 2023
Time: 12.30-1.30pm
Location: Opposite HOME OFFICE, Marsham Street, SW1P 4DF

Join us to pray for

  • those who have died trying to reach the UK
  • the many victims of current wars
  • asylum seekers in detention centres, and those who are homeless
  • those who struggle to inject welcome and humanity into our legislation

We invite you to join us every third Monday of the month, remembering those who have died, and praying for those who are struggling for safety. Just come along on the day or contact us for the prayer resources in advice: Barbara Kentish – barbarakentish11@gmail.com or Br Johannes Maertens – johanmaertens@amys251

Organised by

The London Catholic Worker
Westminster Justice & Peace
London Churches Refugee Fund