Adding to Bernard’s piece below (Bernard White writes of his journey to Copenhagen):
Two features of the coach journey to Copenhagen stand out, first that while the craic was great, it was when Sr Alphonsus led us in evening and then morning prayers that the group really seemed to come together. The second thing I recall was the large number of wind farms we passed en route through France, Belgium, Germany and Denmark. But not only farms, also numbers of wind farm vanes arranged neatly along the side of the motorway and even being transported on very long vehicles.
The Friday evening we arrived, after Maria Elena’s excellent pasta, we attended a Mass for Climate Justice at St Ansgar’s Catholic Cathedral, presided over by Caritas Africa President Archbishop Cyprian Lwanga of Kampala; it was concelebrated by bishops and priests from Latin America, Asia, Europe, and Oceania. The singing was beautiful. After the Mass Caritas Denmark hosted a reception where ex-CAFOD head of international affairs, now Caritas Internationalis Secretary General, Lesley Anne Knight made a speech welcoming all of us. We were joined by Caritas staff from 25 countries, Danish parishioners, and delegates from the UN Summit on climate change.
Concerning the school gym I’d add to Bernard’s account that in the middle of the night Simon the “snoring monitor” arrived like a phantom at the person next to me and said: “Paul, you are snoring, turn on your side!” Paul duly did what he was told, but a few minutes later was back to a gentle rhythmic musical extravaganza. As a renowned snorer I felt happy that Simon’s target hadn’t been me!
The march on Saturday that I was part of was entirely peaceful. In fact when we were waiting listening to speeches before the start, surrounded by placards and banners and countless people, a dad pushing a pram with a little baby negotiated his way past us. I also saw children marching and a huge age range. Our own group boasted people in both their twenties and, I would guess, their late seventies.
Feedback at our briefing later was that delegates from developing countries, inside the Bella centre, seeing the march on TV monitors had been greatly encouraged seeing the numbers of people marching to support them.
Sunday morning in the Rådhusplads, Copenhagen’s equivalent of Trafalgar Square, Archbishop Tutu was indeed wonderful, thousands came to hear him speak and to witness the handover of over half a million signatures to the UN climate chief Yvo de Boer. (Archbishop Desmond did get his fact wrong though, it should be 40% reduction by 2020 at 1990 levels)
Caritas and its sister Catholic network CIDSE contributed over 150,000 signatures to the final total, through their joint Grow Climate Justice Campaign.
Later I queued outside in cold weather to get into an ecumenical service at the Cathedral of Our Lady. Outside six large red balls were arranged marking the 512,894 signatures. Inside amongst the large congregation were 28 Christian Aid sponsored cyclists who had made their way to the summit by bike.
The service, attended among others by the Danish Queen and her Consort, was a moving occasion and also seen by the Danes as a major ecumenical event. It was transmitted live on their equivalent of BBC1. Again the music was inspiring with singing by Zulu, Greenland and Danish choirs. In his homily the Archbishop of Canterbury said “Fear motivates a thousand excuses not to show our love”, but we should continue to hope because “love casts out fear”. The Catholic Church was represented by Caritas Mexico President Bishop Gustavo Rodriguez Vega.
At 3 pm church bells in the Cathedral, in Copenhagen and across Denmark, Scandinavia and Central Europe, rang out as part of a Caritas-supported campaign for Climate Justice.
The bells tolled 350 times to mark the number that refers to what scientists say is a safe level of CO2 in the atmosphere.