Westminster Justice and Peace E-Bulletin February 2023

Fr Dominic Robinson SJ and Colette Joyce have co-authored this year’s Lent Faith-Sharing resource booklet for the Agency for Evangelisation for use by small groups in parishes over five 60-90 minute sessions in Lent, covering the themes of homelessness, racial justice, care of creation, migrants and peace, in the light of the Scriptures and drawing on local examples in the Diocese of Westminster.

Dear Friends of Justice and Peace,

This month’s Westminster Justice & Peace E-Bulletin is now available for download, packed with the usual assortment of Diary Dates: events, talks, webinars, meetings and actions across a whole range of concerns from helping the homeless into dignified work with Caritas, to Synodal explorations on the role of women in the Church with the National Board of Catholic Women, to supporting the international development work of CAFOD. We hope there is something for everyone. 

Peace, hope and happiness this Feast of the Presentation.

Holocaust Memorial Day, 27th January 2023

Holocaust Memorial Day, 27th January 2023

Watch the recording for Holocaust Memorial Day

Today we remember those who were murdered for who they were and stand against prejudice and hatred everywhere.

#HolocaustMemorialDay is a time to remember people affected by the Holocaust and genocide and take action to create a better future.

Each year, people from across the UK take part in a national moment for Holocaust Memorial Day.

Join the nation at 4.00pm today and #LightTheDarkness to remember all those murdered for who they were stand against prejudice and hatred today.

Holocaust Memorial Day Website

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 18-25 January 2023 – Focus on Racial Justice

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity – Materials Available to Download

Theme: ‘Do good, seek justice’ (Isaiah 1:17).

The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is traditionally observed from the 18th to the 25th January – the octave of St. Peter and St. Paul.

For this week we are guided by the churches of Minneapolis as we seek to explore how the work of Christian unity can contribute to the promotion of racial justice across all levels of society.

Through this resource, the ecumenical Churches Together in Britain and Ireland (CTBI) writers’ group has chosen to focus our attention in the UK on the 30th anniversary of the murder of Stephen Lawrence, which we mark in 2023.

Prayer

You made us, God,
in your own image,
and then became one of us,
proud of those you have made.
Make us proud of being part of that worldwide family,
and eager to discover and celebrate your image
in every person, every culture, every nation
that we are privileged to encounter.

CTBI Prayer for Week of Christian Unity 2023

Churches Together in Britain and Ireland (CTBI) – Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

Martin Luther King Jr Day – 16th January 2023

Pope Announces Ecumenical Prayer Vigil for Synod

Westminster Justice and Peace E-Bulletin January 2023

Dear Friends of Justice and Peace,

Happy New Year!

Today we pray and remember Pope Benedict and the legacy he left the Church, especially in his great witness and love for the person of Jesus. Requiescat in pace.

https://rcdow.org.uk/news/pope-emeritus-benedict-requiescat-in-pace/

Looking ahead to 2023, the E-Bulletin contains an update on the on-going Synodal Pathway. There are a smaller than usual number of Diary Dates – to begin the year at a gentle pace. No doubt many more will be added in the months to come!

Peace Sunday on 15th January is the next key event promoted by the Justice and Peace Commission. As we draw closer to the one year anniversary of the invasion of Ukraine by Russia (24 February 2022), we invite you to give particular consideration to this year’s Message from Pope Francis for the World Day of Peace and to look up the work and resources of Pax Christi in preparation for Masses on this weekend. We remember, too, that there are still many other parts of the world experiencing conflict and strife that are not in the headlines and we keep them in our prayers. 

Peace Sunday

Message from Pope Francis for the 56th World Day of Peace

Pope Francis Message for Peace: “No one can be saved alone.” Photo: Marcin Mazur

1 January 2023

No one can be saved alone.
Combatting Covid-19 together, embarking together on paths of peace

“Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers and sisters, you do not need to have anything written to you. For you yourselves know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night” (First Letter of Saint Paul to the Thessalonians, 5:1-2).

1. With these words, the Apostle Paul encouraged the Thessalonian community to remain steadfast, their hearts and feet firmly planted and their gaze fixed on the world around them and the events of history, even as they awaited the Lord’s return. When tragic events seem to overwhelm our lives, and we feel plunged into a dark and difficult maelstrom of injustice and suffering, we are likewise called to keep our hearts open to hope and to trust in God, who makes himself present, accompanies us with tenderness, sustains us in our weariness and, above all, guides our path. For this reason, Saint Paul constantly exhorts the community to be vigilant, seeking goodness, justice and truth: “So then, let us not fall asleep as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober” (5:6). His words are an invitation to remain alert and not to withdraw into fear, sorrow or resignation, or to yield to distraction or discouragement. Instead, we should be like sentinels keeping watch and ready to glimpse the first light of dawn, even at the darkest hour.

2. Covid-19 plunged us into a dark night. It destabilized our daily lives, upset our plans and routines, and disrupted the apparent tranquillity of even the most affluent societies. It generated disorientation and suffering and caused the death of great numbers of our brothers and sisters.

Amid a whirlwind of unexpected challenges and facing a situation confusing even from a scientific standpoint, the world’s healthcare workers mobilized to relieve immense suffering and to seek possible remedies. At the same time, political authorities had to take measures to organize and manage efforts to respond to the emergency.

In addition to its physical aspects, Covid-19 led to a general malaise in many individuals and families; the long periods of isolation and the various restrictions on freedom contributed to this malaise, with significant long-term effects.

Nor can we overlook the fractures in our social and economic order that the pandemic exposed, and the contradictions and inequalities that it brought to the fore. It threatened the job security of many individuals and aggravated the ever-increasing problem of loneliness in our societies, particularly on the part of the poor and those in need. We need but think of the millions of informal workers in many parts of the world left without a job and without any support during the time of the lockdown.

Only rarely do individuals and societies achieve progress in conditions that generate such feelings of despondency and bitterness, which weaken efforts to ensure peace while provoking social conflict, frustration and various forms of violence. Indeed, the pandemic seems to have upset even the most peaceful parts of our world, and exposed any number of forms of fragility.

3. Three years later, the time is right to question, learn, grow and allow ourselves to be transformed as individuals and as communities; this is a privileged moment to prepare for “the day of the Lord”. I have already observed on a number of occasions that we never emerge the same from times of crisis: we emerge either better or worse. Today we are being asked: What did we learn from the pandemic? What new paths should we follow to cast off the shackles of our old habits, to be better prepared, to dare new things? What signs of life and hope can we see, to help us move forward and try to make our world a better place?

Certainly, after directly experiencing the fragility of our own lives and the world around us, we can say that the greatest lesson we learned from Covid-19 was the realization that we all need one another. That our greatest and yet most fragile treasure is our shared humanity as brothers and sisters, children of God. And that none of us can be saved alone. Consequently, we urgently need to join together in seeking and promoting the universal values that can guide the growth of this human fraternity. We also learned that the trust we put in progress, technology and the effects of globalization was not only excessive, but turned into an individualistic and idolatrous intoxication, compromising the very promise of justice, harmony and peace that we so ardently sought. In our fast-paced world, the widespread problems of inequality, injustice, poverty and marginalization continue to fuel unrest and conflict, and generate violence and even wars.

The pandemic brought all this to the fore, yet it also had its positive effects. These include a chastened return to humility, a rethinking of certain consumeristic excesses, and a renewed sense of solidarity that has made us more sensitive to the suffering of others and more responsive to their needs. We can also think of the efforts, which in some cases proved truly heroic, made by all those people who worked tirelessly to help everyone emerge from the crisis and its turmoil as best they could.

This experience has made us all the more aware of the need for everyone, including peoples and nations, to restore the word “together” to a central place. For it is together, in fraternity and solidarity, that we build peace, ensure justice and emerge from the greatest disasters. Indeed, the most effective responses to the pandemic came from social groups, public and private institutions, and international organizations that put aside their particular interests and joined forces to meet the challenges. Only the peace that comes from a fraternal and disinterested love can help us overcome personal, societal and global crises.

4. Even so, at the very moment when we dared to hope that the darkest hours of the Covid-19 pandemic were over, a terrible new disaster befell humanity. We witnessed the onslaught of another scourge: another war, to some extent like that of Covid-19, but driven by culpable human decisions. The war in Ukraine is reaping innocent victims and spreading insecurity, not only among those directly affected, but in a widespread and indiscriminate way for everyone, also for those who, even thousands of kilometres away, suffer its collateral effects – we need but think of grain shortages and fuel prices.

Clearly, this is not the post-Covid era we had hoped for or expected. This war, together with all the other conflicts around the globe, represents a setback for the whole of humanity and not merely for the parties directly involved. While a vaccine has been found for Covid-19, suitable solutions have not yet been found for the war. Certainly, the virus of war is more difficult to overcome than the viruses that compromise our bodies, because it comes, not from outside of us, but from within the human heart corrupted by sin (cf. Gospel of Mark 7:17-23).

5. What then is being asked of us? First of all, to let our hearts be changed by our experience of the crisis, to let God, at this time in history, transform our customary criteria for viewing the world around us. We can no longer think exclusively of carving out space for our personal or national interests; instead, we must think in terms of the common good, recognizing that we belong to a greater community, and opening our minds and hearts to universal human fraternity. We cannot continue to focus simply on preserving ourselves; rather, the time has come for all of us to endeavour to heal our society and our planet, to lay the foundations for a more just and peaceful world, and to commit ourselves seriously to pursuing a good that is truly common.

In order to do this, and to live better lives after the Covid-19 emergency, we cannot ignore one fundamental fact, namely that the many moral, social, political and economic crises we are experiencing are all interconnected, and what we see as isolated problems are actually causes and effects of one another. Consequently, we are called to confront the challenges of our world in a spirit of responsibility and compassion. We must revisit the issue of ensuring public health for all. We must promote actions that enhance peace and put an end to the conflicts and wars that continue to spawn poverty and death. We urgently need to join in caring for our common home and in implementing clear and effective measures to combat climate change. We need to battle the virus of inequality and to ensure food and dignified labour for all, supporting those who lack even a minimum wage and find themselves in great difficulty. The scandal of entire peoples starving remains an open wound. We also need to develop suitable policies for welcoming and integrating migrants and those whom our societies discard. Only by responding generously to these situations, with an altruism inspired by God’s infinite and merciful love, will we be able to build a new world and contribute to the extension of his kingdom, which is a kingdom of love, justice and peace.

In sharing these reflections, it is my hope that in the coming New Year we can journey together, valuing the lessons that history has to teach us. I offer my best wishes to Heads of State and Government, to Heads of International Organizations, and to the leaders of the different religions. To all men and women of good will I express my prayerful trust that, as artisans of peace, they may work, day by day, to make this a good year! May Mary Immaculate, Mother of Jesus and Queen of Peace, intercede for us and for the whole world.

From the Vatican, 8 December 2022

Download Full Text

Peace Sunday is celebrated in England and Wales on Sunday 15th January 2023.

For more resources or to donate to Pax Christi visit https://paxchristi.org.uk/peace-sunday-2023/

Report from Southern Dioceses Environment Network Meeting, 12th December 2022

Feedback on COP27, Advent and Planning for 2023

Neil Thorns, Director of Advocacy and Communications at CAFOD, gives feedback from COP27 which he attended as a delegate of the Holy See

Presentation by Neil Thorns, Director of Advocacy and Communications, CAFOD

Neil was a delegate for the Holy See (the Vatican) to COP26 and COP27. He told us that what was different about COP27 was that the Holy See had acceded to the Paris Agreement (2015) and so are now a party to the COP for the first time (as a State). This happened toward the end of October 2022 and it is worth noting that signing up comes with difficulties and challenges. It requires commitment. Preparation was minimal in terms of time, so the Vatican was not able to prepare this time in the way they probably will in future.

COPs have a direct impact influence on countries’ economies and policies, unlike e.g. The Sustainability Goals, which are voluntary. There are accountability and transparency mechanisms which is vital for the principles behind the COP and the impact it will have moving forward. What happens at COP matters because it has to be taken back to countries domestically.

The fault lines are clear between the countries that caused the climate crisis through historic emissions (UK, US, France, Germany etc.) and those that didn’t (Saudi Arabia, China, Brazil, India etc.) The common, yet differentiated, responsibilities between the two groups are held by some as a matter of principle and have political consequences.

At a COP there are actual negotiations and political signals (found primarily in the cover text).

THE GOOD

  • The cover text included food, rivers, nature-based solutions and right to a healthy environment for the first time.
  • Innovative financing options were part of the discussions and included in the cover text.
  • Negotiating streams dealt with:
  • Averting the climate crisis (mitigation) 
  • Minimising the harm from climate change (adaptation) 
  • Addressing the harm already done (loss and damage) 
  • A fund for loss and damage (compensation) has been agreed in principle and a transition group has been set up to work out the detail of how this is to be done.
  • Excellent expert report presented on reaching net zero and calling out greenwashing.
  • Sharm El-Sheikh Programme of Work established to take forward issues on food.

COP27 could have been worse – the first pavilion was a HUGE Saudi Arabian pavilion. Egypt was the president of COP27 and this first pavilion told a story of the influence the Saudi Arabians had on them.

THE BAD

Best expressed by Alok Sharma (UK COP26 President) in his closing remarks at COP27:


“Emissions peaking before 2025, as the science tells us is necessary.

Not in this text.

Clear follow-through on the phase down of coal.

Not in this text.

A clear commitment to phase out all fossil fuels.

Not in this text.

And the energy text, weakened, in the final minutes.

Friends, I said in Glasgow that the pulse of 1.5 degrees was weak.

Unfortunately, it remains on life support.”

Alok Sharma, COP27, Closing Remarks
  • The Climate crisis continues to hit people hard and fast.
  • The influence of fossil fuels companies took over.
  • No strengthening of 1.5 targets or phasing out fossil fuels, even though UK government strong stance on these negotiations. 
  • Climate finance – targets still not met from 2009 – big disappointment.
  • From CAFOD and Holy See point of view – disappointment with the narrow, productionist, approach to food systems. Nature/people outlook didn’t get a look in.

CAFOD, Holy See, and the Future 

The Holy See made a number of interventions.

  • Pressed for a comprehensive view of food systems, as found in Laudato Si’.
  • https://twitter.com/CAFOD/status/1592434466479542272 
  • Asked for separate financial mechanism for loss and damage. Taken notice of by other states. Thanked by the small island states for doing it.
  • Positive as a Catholic family for our voice to be heard.
  • In the build-up CAFOD had done work with partners. African Climate Dialogues. Brought partner voices into the COP.
  • Hope to be stronger and better prepared for the next COP. Early preparation is important.
  • It is important for us to think about pushing the UK Government.
  • We need to push on loss and damage, the food system as a national discussion (also the next CAFOD campaign.)

Q & A:  

  • What is the best way to push the UK government? Contacting MPs and being consistent is strong and don’t be afraid to send evidence. The more who speak the better – especially if they are Conservative. 
  • How does the work of the Holy See filter down through the Diocese level? If only – Being a part of the Holy See is seen as a government. A report will be done for the Bishops Conference of England and Wales by Neil Thorns and a suggestion has been made that the Holy See themselves do this but it is not simple. 
  • Was there a presence of other faiths? There are various groups recognised such as Indigenous groups, there is a strong representation of faith groups which is great to see. 
  • How influential are the side groups? Not one answer to this but if you see COP in the two ways – political/negotiating but then also the conversation that happens outside such as deals and agreements making traction.  
  • Has there been writing following COP27? Formal writing is not shared from my knowledge. Church globally sees this as important enough to take action – Bishops/Cardinals can be asked how we are translating the Paris agreement into our local realities. A bottom-up approach. 

Question: What is your response to Neil’s presentation? Where do you think we are now and what do you think will be important in 2023? 

Next Southern Dioceses Environment Network Meetings

Monday, 9 January  2023, 12.45-2.00pm  – Joint meeting

To start the year, the Northern Dioceses Environment Group and Southern Dioceses Environment Network will be meeting together to reflect on the challenges that lie ahead in 2023.

The meeting will hear from the Diocese of Salford that has been carrying out extensive surveys of all parish and diocesan buildings to develop a decarbonisation pathway and to help prioritise decarbonisation projects.

We will also get an update on the Guardians of Creation initiative with a focus on the engaging parishioners in the ‘ecological conversion’ we all need to make if we are to respond with urgency to the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.”

Monday          13 Feb             12.45-2.00pm            
Monday          13 March        12.45-2.00pm            

Monday          15 May            12.45-2.00pm         
Monday          12 June           12.45-2.00pm

Monday          10 July            12.45-2.00pm            
Monday          11 Sept           12.45-2.00pm

Monday          9 Oct               12.45-2.00pm
Monday          13 Nov            12.45-2.00p
m
Monday          11 Dec             12.45-2.00pm

KEY CLIMATE DATES
LINKS TO EVENTS & ORGANISATIONS

Resources

Journey to 2030 Updates:

‘Let Us Dream’ Activity Workshops

Advent resources to try and let us know your thoughts

New Journey to 2030 School Page

From the Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales (CBCEW):

Bishops Conference Environment Resolutions – Autumn 2022

Bishop John’s Podcast on ‘Call of Creation’

Revised document: ‘Call of Creation’ (October 2022)

Advent with Jesuit Missions: 17-24 December: ‘See Beyond the Headlines’ – Sign up or login to help create a more just world this Christmas.

King Charles III Meets Aid to the Church in Need Representatives and Survivors of Persecution

l-r: Fr Alfred Ebalu, Fr Dominic Robinson SJ, Dr Caroline Hull and King Charles III © ACN

Source: Aid to the Church in Need

HM King Charles III met witnesses of Christian persecution yesterday (Thursday, 8th December) at an Advent event in London where Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) took part.

The King listened as Father Alfred Ebalu, a survivor of abduction, death threats and violence in Nigeria, highlighted growing persecution of Christians and others in Africa’s most populous country.

Father Ebalu’s testimony was followed by an overview of heightened persecution in other parts of Africa, where it is requested that details go unreported for fear of endangering the faithful there.

Leading the delegation was ACN (UK) National Director Dr Caroline Hull, alongside Father Dominic Robinson SJ, the charity’s UK National Ecclesiastical Assistant (chaplain) and John Pontifex, ACN (UK) Head of Press and Information, who introduced the witnesses.

The King was given an introduction to ACN’s Persecuted and Forgotten? A Report on Christians oppressed for their Faith 2020-22, launched ahead of last month’s #RedWednesday, the charity’s campaign on behalf of the suffering Church.

The meeting took place at King’s House, a centre of worship, community outreach and mission run by King’s Cross Church, where representatives of social action and welfare groups gathered alongside Christian charities to meet the King.

Other VIPs included the Most Rev Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, who also met the ACN group, and Dame Sarah Mullally, the Bishop of London.

After the event, people packed into the nearby Ethiopian Christian Fellowship Church UK for an Advent service with Christmas music, prayers and blessings with input from King’s Cross Church, Archbishop Welby and Coptic Orthodox Archbishop Angaelos of London.

Friends and supporters of ACN were present at the service and the reception that followed.

After the event, Dr Hull said: “We are so grateful to the King for giving us the opportunity to introduce him to witnesses of Christian persecution. It’s so important that their stories be heard and our thanks go out to King’s House and all those who made the event such an important testimony to the vital role faith plays in our world today.”

LINK

Aid to the Church in Need: http://www.acnuk.org/

Southern Dioceses Environment Network Meeting Monday 12th December, 12.45-2.00pm, On Zoom – Guest Speaker: Neil Thorns

Banner made by a Yr 7 pupil for the London mobilisation on the Global Day of Action for COP27, 12th November 2022

The next meeting of the Southern Dioceses Environment Network will be on Monday 12th December, 12.45-2.00pm, on Zoom.

The Guest Speaker is Neil Thorns, the Director of Advocacy and Communications at CAFOD. Neil attended the UN Climate Conference COP27 in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt (6-18 November 2022) as part of the Vatican delegation. He will be sharing with us some of his insights and reflections from that experience.

We will also spend some time reflecting on the Advent Season and looking ahead to 2023

All Catholics and our friends with an interest in climate justice and protecting the environment are welcome to attend. For more details on the Southern Dioceses Environment Network and recordings of previous meetings please visit our webpage:

Southern Dioceses Environment Network

6th December, 7pm – PACT Christmas Carol Service 2022 at Farm Street Church

You are warmly invited to the beautiful surroundings of The Church of the Immaculate Conception – Farm Street Church – in Mayfair, London, for the Prison Advice and Care Trust (PACT) 2022 Carol Service.

This very special event will take place at 7pm on Tuesday 6th December 2022.

Bishop Richard Moth will be presiding at the service. He is the Liaison Bishop for Prisons at the Catholic Bishops Conference of England & Wales.

Uplifting music will be provided by the Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School Sixth Form Choir, directed by Scott Price.

BOOK

Saturday 3rd December, 2pm, Pax Christ Peace Service – Advent 2022

This year’s Pax Christi Advent Service will be held at the Church of the Holy Apostles, 47 Cumberland Street, Pimlico, London SW1V 4LY.

The music will be led by Julie McCann and singers and instrumentalists will gather to rehearse at 10am in the church.  See Julie’s call for musicians here: https://www.indcatholicnews.com/news/45851

The service will be followed by an Alternative Christmas Market with Fairtrade and Palestinian goods, crafts and gifts, books, cards, refreshments and children’s activities.

You can watch the livestream of the service via the parish website https://www.holyapostlespimlico.org/ 

You may like to download the Service from the website and have a candle ready:   https://paxchristi.org.uk/