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.’
This month’s E-Bulletin includes details of the next Westminster Social Justice and Peace Forum on Saturday 22nd May, which will focus on issues of work and unemployment facing us as we begin to emerge, we hope, from pandemic and lockdown. It is especially apt that we contemplate a Catholic Vision of Work during this year dedicated to St Joseph, patron saint of workers.
The Diocese of Westminster is working with local authorities to help reassure people about receiving the Covid-19 vaccine.
Covid-19 has raised issues of justice and health inequality in our communities and the Diocese is keen to help parishes address these. As such they are planning a webinar to encourage greater vaccine confidence, especially among Black, Asian and Minority Ethnicity (BAME) communities, through a Webinar on Saturday, 27th March 2021, 10.00 – 11.30am.
The steering group to promote Covid-19 vaccine confidence consists of medical professionals and Catholic clergy from BAME communities who have come together with the aim to share information around health and wellbeing in the context of Covid-19 and vaccines. Bishop Paul McAleenan has written to the Ethnic Chaplaincies, Deans, and to all parish priests, and the communication has been sent out to schools. Caritas Westminster and Westminster Justice and Peace are also involved.
The Covid-19 pandemic has caused dramatic changes in our lives, yet we know that it does not affect people equally. Although most people with the infection might experience only mild illness, some may become very unwell and sadly others may die from it. We know that death rates from Covid-19 are higher for Black and Asian ethnic groups when compared to White ethnic groups. To put this into context, the death rates for Covid-19 in black people are four times that of Caucasians, and Asian people are three times more likely to die than their Caucasian counterparts.
With cases of coronavirus surging, there is need for action to protect ourselves from contracting and spreading the virus. Vaccines are one of the most promising interventions to control infections. We understand that some people may be concerned about getting vaccinated with the new COVID-19 vaccines. The Webinar will help tackle the reasons for hesitancy and build understanding, trust and engagement.
Vaccine Confidence Webinar: Saturday, March 27th 2021, 10.00-11:30am
ondon Churches Refugee Fund and Church Times present an evening in support of refugees. With keynote speaker Fr Timothy Radcliffe OP, actor Alfred Enoch, and representatives from LCRF and Migrants Organise.
Register below for a free ticket. The event will be broadcast live online on Thursday 25 March.
Fr Timothy Radcliffe OP, keynote speaker Dominican friar, writer & former Master of the Order of Preachers
Zrinka Bralo CEO Migrants Organise (organising with refugees for power, dignity & justice)
Revd Dr Andrew Prasad Moderator Thames North Synod URC; former Executive Secretary Council for World Mission; LCRF Patron
Alfred Enoch Actor (Harry Potter, Red, How To Get Away With Murder) & Patron of London Churches Refugee Fund
Revd Chris Brice Chair of London Churches Refugee Fund
As a Diocese, we celebrated the award with an Online Celebration & Social on Friday 5th March, 11am, during Fairtrade Fortnight 2021. About 60 people from parishes around the Diocese gathered on Zoom to watch a video recorded by Cardinal Vincent Nichols to mark the occasion, with guest speakers congratulating all those involved, as well as encouraging those Parishes not yet signed up to complete the Award.
Bishop Nicholas Hudson, lead bishop for Justice & Peace, opened the gathering in prayer and offered his own congratulations to everyone involved, thanking CAFOD Westminster, Caritas Westminster and Justice & Peace Westminster for their collaboration in promoting Fairtrade principles and arranging the celebration.
In his message, Cardinal Vincent Nichols congratulated the 108 Westminster Parishes that have committed to Fairtrade principles and announced that Westminster RC Diocese is now the first Fairtrade Diocese in the Country. The Cardinal also invited the remaining parishes in the Diocese to seek to become Fairtrade Parishes. This commitment requires a parish to offer Fairtrade coffee and tea when served at Parish meetings and to promote Fairtrade at least once a year in the parish. For information on how to apply visit the CAFOD website: https://cafod.org.uk/Campaign/Fairtrade
Everyone brought along a Fairtrade product to show in a screenshot photograph to be shared in the media afterwards and we all enjoyed spotting the many different types of Fairtrade items on display…
We were reminded that, with the end of lockdown in sight, now is the perfect time for parishes to check their tea, coffee, sugar and biscuit supplies and stock-up with Fairtrade goodies in preparation for permission to serve refreshments after Mass resuming on 12th April!
Invited speakers included Adam Gardner who has worked for The Fairtrade Foundation for more than a decade. He said, “Speaking to Barbara Kentish (former J & P Co-ordinator) and Maria Elena Arana (CAFOD) and others over the years, I’ve got just a sense of how much hard work and dedication, events, conversation, discussion and prayer, too, has gone on by so many across the Parishes and at the Diocese level so massive congratulations! There is an African proverb that says, ‘If you want to fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.’ This has been a true team effort and truly about going far.”
Fr Joe Ryan, former Chair of the Westminster Justice and Peace Commission, described his own wake-up call forty years ago as to where his tea and coffee came from and the origins of the decision to become a Fairtrade Diocese. Every purchase we make here can have a huge impact on others who are producing goods many miles away overseas. “Even a little can mean a lot.”
Anne Lamont, a parishioner at St John Vianney’s and volunteer in the Justice & Peace Office, told how Fairtrade had become an integral part of the Confirmation programme, which has helped to embed Fairtrade thinking and activity in the Parish. Young people in the Confirmation group hold an annual Big Brew Weekend with stalls, a raffle and Fairtrade teas, coffees and cakes which they make themselves.
Hilda McCafferty from Our Lady of Fatima, White City, in West London, reminded the meeting of the importance of Fairtrade and sustainability in the fashion industry, which was illustrated in her parish by a Fairtrade Fashion Show, also run by the Confirmation Group.
Among the other parishes in attendance were: St Bede’s – Croxley Green, Our Lady of Lourdes – Acton, St Joseph’s – Bunhill Row, St Marks – Hemel West, Our Lady of the Assumption and St Gregory – Warwick Street, Our Lady Immaculate and St Andrew – Hitchin, and St Edmund’s – Edmonton.
St Mary’s, Hampstead, was represented by Santana Luis who writes, “Thank you for organising the Fairtrade presentation event and asking me to speak on my journey with the Fairtrade movement for the last fifteen years. It has been a great achievement for our Diocese and a wonderful celebration to be part of the World’s largest Fairtrade city. We are now leading an example for other boroughs, parishes, deaneries, dioceses and other faith communities in the UK to be part of the Fairtrade movement, especially as this year’s themes are focusing on sustainability, circular economy, climate crisis and meeting the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals).”
Tony Sheen from CAFOD thanked everyone for their participation, including Parishes who have demonstrated their commitment to Fairtrade as part of the Live Simply Award. He encouraged Parishes who have not yet started this journey to consider signing up. The Award requires us to look at our lifestyles as individuals and as Parish communities, seeking to live more simply, sustainably and in solidarity with those living in poverty. Find out more: https://cafod.org.uk/Campaign/Livesimply-award
Finally, the meeting was closed in prayer by the current Chair of Westminster Justice & Peace, Fr Dominic Robinson SJ.
All are welcome to join the Diocesan Justice and Peace Co-ordinator, Colette Joyce, at these informal chats for North London and Hertfordshire Catholics (and our friends) to share, discuss and discern priorities for 2021 on subjects such as responding to the pandemic, the climate crisis, racial justice, homelessness, the nuclear weapons ban, Fairtrade and much more…
First time participants, seasoned campaigners, parishioners, religious, deacons & priests welcome.
The Central London group has scheduled a follow-on meeting specifically to discuss ideas for a Catholic Climate Festival in September 2021, the Season of Creation, when many other groups are arranging festivals under the auspices of The Climate Coalition as part of the run-up to the UN Climate Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, 1-12 November 2021. Everyone is welcome to attend this initial meeting who lives within travelling distance of the Westminster Cathedral/Houses of Parliament area and is interested in getting involved. Facilitated by Colette Joyce and John Woodhouse from Laudato Si’ Animators, UK.
Interfaith collaboration on social justice issues was celebrated at Saturday’s quarterly meeting online of the National Justice and Peace Network. Among initiatives discussed by around 60 participants were the SVP and Islamic Relief providing relief together after flooding in Kendal, Cumbria, networking of foodbanks in Birmingham, liaison in several dioceses with prison chaplains who are Muslim, and collaboration on Fairtrade Fortnight.
Speaking on ‘Inter-faith Relations in the UK Today’, Dr Harriet Crabtree, Director of UK Interfaith Network, highlighted some campaigns that have had an interfaith dimension: Together for the Common Good, Grenfell and Faith for the Climate. Looking at factors important for good interfaith relations, she singled out the importance of diverse communities feeling valued in society and by the government; also, the media being positive about people of diverse faiths.
The second speaker, Jon Dal Dim, Interfaith Representative of the Foculare Zone of Western Europe, addressed the theme of, ‘Going to God Together’. The Focolare Movement is committed to promoting dialogue between religions, feeling that it contributes to the building of solidarity and world peace. In 1977, in London, founder Chiara Lubich was awarded the Templeton Prize for progress in religion. She presented her experience before leaders of different religions, and when people from other faiths (Buddhists, Muslims, Jews, Sikhs, Hindu, etc.) were the first to step up and offer warm congratulations, she felt it was a sign from God. Chiara felt the Movement had to open itself to dialogue with people of all religious traditions, based on the central importance of love. Love has an immediate echo in the other religions and cultures, because of the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” By implementing the Golden Rule, fruitful dialogue can be established. Focolare is active in 183 countries, and its new International President is Margaret Karram, a Palestinian Christian.
The late Brother Daniel Faivre, who set up Westminster Interfaith, was remembered for his 28 years’ work in Southall, West London, bringing about understanding between different faith groups. There were photos of him at the Battersea Peace Pagoda and participating in the annual Multifaith Pilgrimage for Peace in Westminster Diocese, which passed by or entered different places of worship, including Christian churches, mosques and Buddhist, Hindu and Sikh temples. There was always tasty food offered at Sikh temples!
Among the dioceses represented on Saturday were Westminster, Southwark, Arundel and Brighton, Clifton, Hallam, Hexham and Newcastle, Birmingham, Lancaster, Middlesbrough, Northampton and Nottingham. Religious included the Sisters of St Joseph of Peace and the Columbans. Organisations participating were CAFOD, SVP, Pax Christi, Christian CND, National Board of Catholic Women, Seeking Sanctuary, Christians Aware, and the Romero Trust. Participants agreed that Interfaith work can enrich celebration of one world and there is already significant engagement to build upon.
CAFOD reported that a COP26 Faiths Task group meets regularly to plan joint climate action in advance of the November climate talks in Glasgow, which will include an Action Day on 6 November. Faith for the Climate on 11 March has a global interfaith initiative, where places of worship around the world will sound the alarm for the climate. An Ecumenical Climate Sunday project is planned for September, during the Season of Creation, with a national event on 5 September at Glasgow Cathedral, which will be live streamed. There is close liaison with the Vatican’s seven-year plan for implementing ‘Laudato Si’.
Pax Christi is following up on the new international Treaty to ban nuclear weapons, plus a focus on disinvestment from nuclear weapons. It is holding a zoom on 8 March for International Women’s Day. It is also urging more dioceses to use Palestinian olive oil at Easter. “There is a dire situation in Palestine at the moment” said chair Ann Farr “and support is much appreciated”. Some dioceses do this already for there is “huge symbolism to use olive oil from Holy Land.” Christian CND helped prepare the Ash Wednesday online peace liturgy, which was attended by 135 people, and is providing regular online prayers during Lent.
The Archbishop Romero Trust is running its annual Romero Service on Saturday 13 March at St Martin in the Fields, with Sr Gemma Simonds speaking. Saturday 27 March will see Southwark Cathedral hosting a Romero Mass with Archbishop John Wilson as the main celebrant.
On general NJPN news, the NJPN Annual conference is planned to go ahead in Derbyshire 23-25 July on the theme ‘2021: Life on Earth – moment of truth’. Bookings are being taken.
The NJPN Environment Working Group – at its 60th Meeting the week before – reported that 14 dioceses now have environmental leads, as requested by Bishop John Arnold. Three Catholic dioceses have now divested from fossil fuels. Catholic Divestment/Investment Webinars – promoted by Operation Noah – continue to be very good. The latest: ‘We cannot be people who profit from the wreckage of this planet’ was addressed by Bill McKibben of 350.org on 17 February. In the leadup to the May 2021 international UN conference on Biodiversity in China, Columban JPIC international has produced a podcast series. The Lent series on ‘Global Healing’ and ‘Preparing the Future’, the latter organised by the Scottish Laity Network, have had hundreds of participants at each session so far.
Middlesbrough is promoting its Environment Policy and members are attending Boarbank Hall retreats. Hexham and Newcastle is pushing divestment and has a diocesan environmental group, plus being active on asylum seekers’ support, hate crime, youth mental health, and ‘greening our cities’. Westminster recently became a Fairtrade Diocese, and the J&P Commission is networking regularly on Creation issues, Racial Justice, UK poverty during the pandemic, and exploring ‘Fratelli Tutti’ and ‘Laudato Si’. Southwark J&P is involved in Medway Interfaith Action and has a big concern for Racial Justice in schools. Clifton runs a ‘Laudato Si’ Circle and works with a Caritas group on prisoners’ issues. Hallam Diocese is helping street homeless in Sheffield and Chesterfield and is funding some young people to come to the July NJPN Conference.
We hope the Diocese of Westminster will be strongly represented at this event. If you have planning to attend or would like more information please contact the Co-ordinator, Colette Joyce, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Some bursaries are available for young adults 18-30. Families are welcome as there are creche facilities and separate activities for younger children and teenagers.
Everyone is invited to come along for the national networking day organised by the National Justice & Peace Network and meet Justice & Peace folk from other Dioceses around the country.
This next event focuses on Inter-faith issues. So many of the injustices and conflicts confronting us today need to be tackled by people from many different faith traditions working together. This is never easy but it is immensely rewarding. Join us to explore the implications for your own work towards peace and justice.