On 24 May 2015 Pope Francis signed his second encyclical Laudato Si’. Addressed to every living person on the planet it called for a dialogue about the future of the planet, Our Common Home. At the start of this Laudato Si’ week 16- 25 May Jane Crone from CAFOD in East Anglia reflects on why people of faith care about Our Common Home.
The crisis of COVID 19 has taught us that life can change very quickly, our relationships and ways of thinking and living have been irreversibly shaken up. Knowing that the future will be different, we talk about ‘building back better or differently and of a ‘new normal’. In ‘Let Us Dream’ Pope Francis calls the time we live in a time of ‘reckoning’ but also a time of choices and opportunity. Reflecting on his own times of crisis or ‘personal Covids’ he says, ‘What I learned was that you suffer a lot, but if you allow it to change you, you come out better, but if you dig in, you come out worse.’
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.
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.“
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.
In his new encyclical, Fratelli Tutti, Pope Francis writes of ‘dark clouds over a closed world’, evoking the uncertainty we have about the future. We are affected here in the diocese of Southwark. Millions more vulnerable families around the world are now struggling with food shortages and loss of income as a result of coronavirus.
New Paths of Hope
Pope Francis reminds us that ‘despite these dark clouds’ there are ‘new paths of hope’. He tells us ‘God continues to sow abundant seeds of goodness in our human family.’ The generosity of CAFOD’s supporters is proof of these seeds of goodness. In Brazil, CAFOD’s partners are helping to distribute emergency food packages to families in urban areas unable to earn money and to assist farmers safely sell their produce. In Sierra Leone, Sister Gertrude and her fellow doctors and nurses at the Handmaids Health Clinic and Maternity Unit now have personal protective equipment so they can treat patients safely. In Cambodia, migrant worker Pheng has participated in training in rice farming so that she can overcome travel restrictions and find work in her home country.
In Fratelli Tutti, Pope Francis looks at the world today through the lens of the well-known parable of the Good Samaritan. Pope Francis writes ‘the parable shows us how a community can be rebuilt by men and women who identify with the vulnerability of others, who reject the creation of a society of exclusion, and act instead as neighbours, lifting up and rehabilitating the fallen for the sake of the common good.’
Lets gather as a big Church community this Harvest
CAFOD’s Family Fast Day this Harvest looks very different. Coronavirus restrictions mean our parishes in the diocese of Southwark cannot come together in all the normal ways to fundraise or gather for soup lunches or coffee mornings to support our brothers and sisters around the world. But now, more than ever it is vital to come together as a community, even from a distance.
CAFOD has created a programme of free events between Thursday 8 and Sunday 11 October to enable people to gather online as a big Church community. Everyone is welcome and there is something for everyone. Please invite your friends and family. Let us recognise Christ in our abandoned or excluded brothers and sisters in the global South and respond to Pope Francis’ call to ‘care for the needs of every man and woman, young and old, with the same fraternal spirit of care and closeness that marked the Good Samaritan.’
A Harvest Like no other Programme.
Join the Harvest Assembly for Schools. Watch live at 9.30am on Thursday 8 October
Listen to a live update about CAFOD’s coronavirus response with International Programme Director, Maria Gonzales at 11am on Friday 9 October Book your place
Bishop Peter Brignall will celebrate Family Fast Day Mass, livestreamed from 6pm on Friday 9 October. Register to join our Mass
CAFOD’s new Global Family Food Event is at 12-1pm, Saturday 10 October. Have fun, eat some delicious food, and make a donation to transform the lives of people in poverty. Find out more
Get a team together or enter solo for the Harvest Like No Other Quiz at 7-8pm on Saturday 10 October. Register here
A special Harvest edition of CAFOD’s popular Children’s Liturgy Live is at 10am on Sunday 11 October, with a special guest from Sierra Leone. Register here
Prayer and reflection:At 7pm on Sunday 11 October,Bishop John Arnold will reflect on Pope Francis’ catechesis, Healing the World, as well as the new encyclical, Fratelli Tutti Book your place