David Murray is a CAFOD volunteer and a climate activist from Wallington. David’s activism ranges from lobbying his local council to sharing CAFOD with young people in secondary schools. Last week-end he attended two conferences and is now sharing his key learnings.
The importance of relationships to address COVID-19 and Climate Chaos
Friday 13th November, the day before more than 200 supporters joined CAFOD’s ‘Faith in Action: Building a Better World’ webinar (an internet conference joined by people from their homes), more than 600 people around Britain joined a day-long webinar, a conference on ‘The Climate Emergency’ with an opening speaker from Australia – remarkable times. Both events inspirational in different ways.
The climate one involved many Local Authority councillors and academics, passionately determined that COP26, the international climate change conference, and the G7, meeting of rich nations, both to be hosted by Britain next year, should leave the world a better place. A hope that now, with America attending, might be realised. The CAFOD one involved supporters and staff seeking to put faith into action to build that better world despite the pandemic.
Both conferences recognised the need to build relationships and work together to address these huge problems of Covid-19 and Climate Chaos. While the climate webinar considered necessary physical changes, the CAFOD event focused, through Pope Francis’ encyclical Fratelli Tutti, on changes of heart.
How to build relationship
For Sam Ewell, CAFOD’s speaker, theology is something we do. So during the pandemic Sam builds relationships by making a garden with prisoners – see: Taizé – Hidden Treasure – Sam Ewell speaks about finding God in the discarded – YouTube , meeting dog walkers and establishing ‘neighbour nights’ where the lonely can meet.
Liam’s very good summary of Fratell Tutti, highlighted, as Pope Francis does, the Good Samaritan. Themes such as: ‘We need one another; We need hope; How to rebuild; How to develop a heart open to the whole world; Re-purposing society to serve the Common Good; Building a better politics and What world we want post-Covid-19’, were discussed in small breakout groups which worked very well.
Thanks to CAFOD’s Maria Elena and Chloe all the technology worked well. They also passed on feedback from one participant: “I saw the announcement of this event on Facebook and thought it would be interesting to learn a bit more about the organisation. But wasn’t expecting to stay for the whole thing. In the event, though, not only did I stay for it all but I found it hugely uplifting and inspiring and, especially in the discussions in the break-out groups I was in, the sense of love was almost tangible. I am so glad I saw the ad on Facebook – and I shall continue to support Cafod whenever I can.“
Heroes of the future will engage in dialogue
When the webinars took place I was reading Philippe Sands’ wonderful book: ‘East West Street”. Elsie Maud Tilney featured. Inspired by Paul’s letter to the Romans: 1:16, at great personal risk, she sheltered and rescued Jews from the holocaust. A friend of Sands told him: “People are only capable of great heroism when they believe something passionately”.
The two webinar events showed hundreds of people understanding the importance of relationships in, and passionate about, achieving a better post-pandemic world. During Covid-19 we’ve seen that our behaviour can change for better or worse. Pope Francis says that the heroes of the future will be those who engage in dialogue – a glimpse of a way forward. That’s what I take away with me.