Prayer Vigil Outside the Home Office – Monday 13th December 12.30pm

London Catholic Worker and Westminster Justice and Peace invite you to join in our Prayer Vigil outside the Home Office, 2 Marsham St, London SW1P 4DF on Monday 13th December 2021, 12.30pm – 1.30pm 

On Wednesday 24th November, 27 people died when their boat capsized in the English Channel.  These numbers are shocking, but the people who died were not numbers. They were human beings, with a name, a face and a story.  We will read out their names  and the names of others who have died trying to reach the UK and Europe, thanks to the lack of any safe process.  We will pray for them, for their families and all of those who are still attempting this terrible journey. 

We will pray for those who profit from their desperation, and those who create the policies that give them little option but to embrace these dangers.  Since 1993, nearly 50,000 people have died either at sea or in tragic circumstances on their journeys, seeking safety in Europe. 

Bring your prayers, your pain and concern to the vigil, where we join in spirit with thousands who want to see an end to such suffering and tragedy.  

There will be prayers outside the Home Office on the third Monday of every month in 2022, that these deaths may not have been in vain, and serve instead to bring justice for people seeking sanctuary.  

Contacts for more information: Barbara Kentish, Westminster Justice & Peace Lead for Migrants and Refugees barbarakentish@talktalk.net  and Johannes Maertens from London Catholic Worker johanmaertens@hotmail.com   

Drownings in the English Channel

Prayer outside the Home Office

By Barbara Kentish, Westminster Justice and Peace lead on Migrants & Refugees

Published on Independent Catholic News

Like many, I saw tonight on Channel 4 News, a distressed woman, knee-deep in sea waves, shouting to the reporter that there had been no water or milk in their camp, despite the presence of babies, and that was why she was taking to a precarious Channel crossing. Yet again, however, we were told that smugglers were to blame for their problem.

The drowning of 30 migrants off the coast between Dunkirk and Calais is a tragedy that should surprise no-one. Having visited Calais and Dunkirk over six years, I have become more and more appalled that thousands have been trapped in this area not only because of the iniquitous French-British agreement to close their borders, but also because of the hostile policies of other European countries. Many in Northern France have tried their luck and failed, in Germany, Switzerland and Eastern Europe, only to conclude that England is their only hope of survival.

Jesuit Fr Philippe Demeestre has just finished a month-long hunger strike in Calais, to ask for practical immediate humanitarian treatment of migrants with care and courtesy, so that the migrants can eat, drink and sleep without harassment. The smugglers are merely a phenomenon generated by their existential dreadful dilemma. It is clear that safe and legal processes would start to alleviate the immediate problem. More radical solutions, just, and long lasting, though certainly not easy, can then be sought. Even before the political steps, humanitarian treatment of the migrants needs to be implemented.

There will be a Prayer Vigil outside the Home Office on 13 December, from 12.30 to 1.30, hosted by the London Catholic Worker and Westminster Justice and Peace, This has been run for several years and the practice has been to read out some of the names of the thousands who have lost their lives trying to reach the sanctuary of the UK. If the names of those who died today, November 24th, are known, we will certainly be praying for them. All are welcome to join us. The Prayer Vigil will be held next year from January at 12.30pm on the third Monday of the month, also at the Home Office.

A further service will be held in due course on the seafront at Dover. at the two plaques commemorating migrants who have died trying to reach the UK. For further information contact barbarakentish@talktalk.net

Young Adult Report – COP26 – A Missed Opportunity

Some of the CAFOD youth delegation outside the SEC. Caitlin is front row, third from left.

Source: Caritas Westminster

From 5-7th November 2021 Caitlin Boyle from the Diocese of Westminster joined CAFOD as part their COP26 youth delegation in marching, campaigning and praying for climate action and justice in Glasgow. Over 30 young adults were part of CAFOD’s COP26 youth delegation who travelled up to Glasgow to apply pressure on world leaders attending the United Nations Climate Change Conference, to be bold and ambitious in their attempts to tackle the climate crisis. 

Caitlin also works as the Information Officer for Caritas Westminster and here gives her report on the experience of campaigning for climate justice.

The CAFOD delegation were able to visit the Scottish Event Campus (SEC), where the COP26 talks and negotiations were taking place, to hear from different scientists, activist groups and indigenous people from all around the world about the effects the climate crisis is having globally and what measures need to be in place to help mitigate them. On Saturday 6th November, despite inclement weather, the CAFOD delegation joined other faith groups (including SCIAF, Jesuit Missions, Islamic Relief, Tearfund and Christian Aid), local organisations and climate activists in marching through the centre of Glasgow, as part of the Global Day of Action for Climate Justice, with around 100,000 people attending in Glasgow alone!

cop26
Photo credit: Thom Flint

Whilst in Glasgow, Caitlin and the CAFOD youth delegation were campaigning for global leaders to commit to plans to limit global temperature rises to no more than 1.5 degrees; deliver the money promised to low-income countries to adapt to the impacts of climate change; and to consign fossil fuels to history. 

Speaking about why she went to Glasgow, Caitlin says: 

‘Climate change is affecting us all, no matter where we are in the world, though it is most adversely affecting people in poorer countries, costing people their livelihoods, their homes, and even their lives, despite these countries contributing least to the crisis. Even here in the UK, however, where the effects will be much less severe, floods and heatwaves are likely to disproportionately affect more deprived communities.


‘The Covid-19 pandemic has further exacerbated and compounded social, economic, and environmental inequalities, with poorer communities again more susceptible to their effects – something I have seen through my work at Caritas Westminster. The pandemic has put further strain on communities ill-equipped to deal with these crises.


‘As the host of COP26, the UK government had a really crucial role in setting the tone for how the world emerges from the pandemic, ensuring that a post-Covid world is one which is equitable – it should not be another missed opportunity.’

The two-week climate conference ended this past weekend (Saturday 13th November). Despite progress in agreeing to phase out fossil fuel usage and investment as part of the Glasgow Climate Pact – the first COP agreement which specifically talks about fossil fuel divestment – world leaders failed to act with the courage and immediacy needed to effectively support those on the front line of the climate crisis. They delayed action on limiting temperature increases, and did not deliver the climate finance that is urgently needed.

Speaking about the decisions made at COP26, Caitlin says:

‘It is disappointing that once again, world leaders failed to place those who are most adversely affected by the climate crisis at the heart of their discussions. As Catholics, it is our duty to work for the common good, and speak out for the poor, the marginalised and the voiceless, and so it is essential that we engage with and campaign on issues relating to social and climate justice. We are called to be stewards of God’s creation, and to protect it. 

‘Despite government inaction at this COP, we as young Catholics must continue to campaign for our common home; the eyes of the world now need to be firmly focused on those who are actually feeling the effects of the climate crisis first hand.

‘Pope Francis said at the start of COP26 that, “The political decision-makers who will meet at COP26 in Glasgow are urgently summoned to provide effective responses to the present ecological crisis, and in this way to offer concrete hope to future generations.” Whilst the decision makers may not have provided the effective responses needed this time, I can certainly draw hope from the amazing campaigners I got to work with as part of the CAFOD delegation, and their commitment and enthusiasm has emboldened and mobilised me to continue to speak out about climate injustice!’ 

Caritas Westminster is working with the Westminster Justice and Peace Commission to encourage local action against climate change, and supporting Westminster Diocese’s plans for decarbonisation.

Catholics at COP26

Catch up with the webinar held on Wednesday 10th November 2021 chaired by Bishop John Arnold, Lead Bishop for the Environment for the Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales.

The event was organised by the international Laudato Si’ Movement and the Equipping Christian Leadership in an Age of Science (ECLAS) project to engage with climate science, explore insights from theology, and discuss the Church’s role in communication and action around the climate crisis.

The webinar featured contributions from Dr Lorna Gold (Board Chair of the Laudato Si’ Movement), Dr Carmody Grey (Assistant Professor of Catholic Theology at Durham University), Dr Franziska Kohlt (Researcher in Science Communication, University of York & ECLAS), Lydia Machaka (Climate Justice and Energy Policy Officer, CIDSE), and Fr Eduardo Augusto O’Carm, (Climate Scientist).

“Pope Francis has asked us to take decisive, urgent action to transform this crisis into an opportunity. As Catholics, we have a role to play as well, each and every one of us.”

Bishop John Arnold

Follow-up to COP26. What Happens Next?

Westminster Justice & Peace were among 25,000 participants at the Global Day of Action for the Climate rally in London, 6th November 2021

Here are details of some events coming up in the next few weeks which will help us to learn and reflect more about the outcomes of the UN Climate Conference, COP26, that is currently nearing completion in Glasgow. The real work is just beginning!


13 November, 11am-1.30pm: National Justice and Peace Network Online Open Networking Day – Reflection and Response to COP26. On Zoom.
Speakers Chris Myers (Climate Pilgrim) & Ellen Teague (Columbans)
Everyone is welcome to attend Justice & Peace national networking meetings as an individual. You do not have to represent any particular group or diocese. Just book and come along! https://www.justice-and-peace.org.uk/njpn-meetings/

14 November – Launch of the Laudato Si’ Platform 
The platform will officially launched on the World Day of the Poor. 
https://laudatosiactionplatform.org/

17 November, 7-8pm: CAFOD COP26 Round up – What Did COP26 Achieve?’ With Neil Thorns and Robin Mace-Snaith. 
Hear a detailed report of the outcomes from the COP26 in Glasgow. You will have the opportunity to ask questions and listen to the latest discussions at the global united Nations summit about climate change and how countries are planning to tackle it. 
https://www.bigmarker.com/cafod/COP26-Round-up

20 November, 11am – 3.30pm (Arrivals from 10.30am) – 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.

Westminster Justice and Peace E-Bulletin November 2021

In this coming month of November, 2021, we seem to be reaching a time of very great significance for both the Church and the World. On Sunday the United Nations Climate Conference begins in Glasgow – COP26 – while the universal Catholic Church embarks on a Synodal Pathway, a consultation and listening exercise to which everyone is invited.

Download the November E-Bulletin to find details of some of the many events and activities taking place and how you can participate. We hope you will find something there of interest to you…

Westminster Synod Pathway – Social Justice and Peace Forum Online Listening Event, Thursday 4th November, 7-9pm

Pope Francis has chosen this time to call the whole Church into a deeper process of listening to one another – the Synodal Pathway. There are many ways to get involved in the Diocese of Westminster.

Everyone involved in social action, advocacy and peace-building is especially invited to our own Online Listening Event with Bishops Nicholas Hudson and Paul McAleenan on Thursday 4th November, 7-9pm, on Zoom.

Register for the Social Justice and Peace Online Listening Event

There may seem to be many demands on us but it is important that we pause and take time to truly listen to one another, sharing both our joys and our hurts, if we are truly to journey forwards together.

As well as existing activists and named Parish Contacts for Justice and Peace, we are keen to ensure that this is a time of genuine openness and inclusion so those who would like to join the Forum for the first time are most welcome, priests and parishioners alike. 

We hope to see many of you there as we begin – or, as Bishop Nicholas writes in his invitation below, continue – a conversation that will have far-reaching implications for the Church of the third millennium. 

Invitation

What is the pandemic teaching us about the call to Social Justice and Peace?‘  That was the question with which we launched into our first online Forum last Advent. ‘What is the Catholic vision of work?‘ launched the second Forum in May. And what rich fruits these questions reaped!

We heard in the first gathering about the extraordinary food outreach achieved in this Diocese.  We heard both the pain and joy experienced by people of colour through belonging to a West London parish.  We heard the call for a ‘radical reset’ of our social and economic systems.  We heard in the second event how much parishes stand to learn from Catholic Social Teaching. In short, we were learning from each other what it means to be Church!  We were beginning to see how much more we need to do to become more truly Church.  But we lacked the vocabulary to tell each other that what we had embarked on was, in fact, a Synodal process. Now we realise we had! 

On Thursday 4th November, 7-9pm, the Forum reconvenes and invites you to deepen the Synodal conversation.  The Forum is hosting a ‘Listening Event’ online in which we shall continue this process we began 11 months ago – of listening to our experience of what it means to be Church.  It will be a marvellous opportunity to come together with others who share a passion for Social Justice and Peace – to hear from one another what the Spirit seems to be saying to the Church.

Then we will be encouraged to take the process into the different groups we represent and given guidance as to how then to feed this back into the centre towards a Diocesan submission.  Do encourage all those with whom you share a yearning for the Church to realise her vocation to Social Justice and Peace to come and be a part of this Listening Event.  I look forward to joining you there on this next stage of the journey!

+ Bishop Nicholas Hudson

Register for the Social Justice and Peace Online Listening Event

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