The challenge of Laudato Si’ for the Latin American Church

The Northampton diocese was very fortunate to have Fr Peter Hughes give a talk at Holy Ghost Church Luton on 12 July 2017.  Fr Peter is an Irish Columban priest from County Mayo who has spent most of his life as a missionary based in Lima, Peru, working in some of the most desperately impoverished communities there.

Campaigns event with Fr Peter Hughes

Rose Bluett, Volunteer coordinator for Luton, who helped organise the event writes :

“How lovely it was for us to have Father Peter visit. His visit brought home to us Pope Francis’ message of Laudato Si’ :

We are faced not with two separate crises, one environmental and the other social, but rather with one complex crisis which is both social and environmental. Strategies for a solution demand an integrated approach to combating poverty, restoring dignity to the excluded, and at the same time protecting nature.’ LS #139

Fr Peter talking about the indigenous people

Fr Peter who has spent many years working with the indigenous people of Peru came to understand the meaning of Living Simply. The indigenous people of Peru understand how to look after the land. They only use what they need.  If they cut down a tree, they plant another one to replace it.  Some live deep in the rainforest which is only accessible by boat.

Illustration of the destruction of the amazon

The rainforest of South America, the largest in World, provides 20% of the portable water and oxygen for the planet! However, its destruction is happening at an alarming rate!  He pointed out how incredible it is for our culture to sanction industries to mine excessively for things such as soya and palm oil and to build hydro-electric dams which cause deforestation and flooding without considering the damage they are doing to the environment and to the local people!

The planet does not belong to us. We are the caretakers. We have been entrusted by God to take care of this beautiful planet. God gives us all we need to do so.  We must work with nature not against it. We must respect our planet.

Fr Peter Hughes sharing his experience

Fr Peter praised CAFOD and all those who support CAFOD’s work saying how he had witnessed first-hand how CAFOD’s help via its partners have made such a difference to the indigenous people over the years. As governments do not seem to respect their own basic law of citizen’s rights, the rights of consulting with the indigenous people have been ignored and the people don’t have the political strength to defend themselves and their land.  CAFOD paid for legal support and enabled some local leaders to attend a meeting in Washington to voice their concerns.  This is helped significantly.”

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Alban Macdonald (Parish volunteer – Biggleswade) passionately commented, “With the total population of the Amazon being only 33 million in that vast area and the indigenous population only 3 million, we in the UK with a population of over 65 million can do something. We can and must voice our concerns to our leaders and stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters whose voices are so easily being ignored!”

Power to Be campaign

We ended the session with input from our campaigns team about the latest Power to Be campaign and encouraged all present to sign the petition which calls on the World Bank to ensure energy access for the world’s poorest people.  Parishes and schools are encouraged to add their voices and speak up for those who are kept in poverty due to lack of accessible and affordable electricity.

A big thank you to Rose for helping to organise the event, to Sarah from the campaigns team who supported the event and accompaied Fr Peter in our diocese and to Fr Peter Hughes for coming and sharing his experiences with us.

As Rose aptly put it, “Live simply and the planet will survive for many generations to come.”

>  Sign our petition


Supporters from Leighton Buzzard parish Speak Up for the poorest

The Justice and Peace group at Sacred Heart (Leighton Buzzard) organised a walk and liturgy on 8 July 2017 during the Speak Up Week of Action and invited their MPs Andrew Selous (South West Bedfordshire) and John Bercow (Buckingham) to attend.  It was wonderful that Andrew Selous could attend even for part of the walk though sadly John Bercow had other engagements and sent his apologies.

Andrew Selous MP joins in the Speak Up Week of Action in Leighton Buzzard

Over 15 people attended and constituents were keen to make their concerns of the world’s poorest people known. 1 in 6 people are still living without electricity!  Local, renewable energy is usually the cheapest, fastest and most efficient solution to bring power to the poorest communities. It can help families out of poverty, without harming the world we share.

>> Sign our petition

With Andrew Selous MP, showing our commitment to renewable energy

The day started at 10:15am where Deborah Purfield (CAFOD coordinator) introduced the event and welcomed Mr Selous saying, “Britain has a great track record with the UK having played a pivotal role in agreeing the Paris Climate Agreement and created the world’s first Climate Change Act. However, a renewed commitment to our climate ambitions is needed.  We want to see global leadership and national action linked to local transformation.”  She asked Mr Selous to take to the Prime Minister the following :

  1. Reaffirm the UK’s role as a global climate leader, working with international allies to fully implement the Paris Agreement
  2. Ensure all government departments work together to produce an ambitious emissions reduction plan that will meet the Climate Change Act targets.

Mr Selous responded by saying that the UK government is supporting the climate agreement and will provide £5.8 billion from the existing 0.7% official development assistance (ODA) budget to the International Climate Fund (ICF) between April 2016 and March 2021, including at least £1.76 billion in 2020. He added that constituents needed to keep up the pressure of supporting the 0.7% ODA.  He emphasized how on the 7 June 2017 output of renewable energy was enough to meet more than 50% of midday power demand in the UK.  Locally he noted that he was supporting making Leighton Buzzard and Linsalde a low carbon emission town.

Yvonne shares her concern with Andrew Selous MP

More people managed to raise questions to Mr Selous during the walk along the canal which was lovely and it was good to see some barges with solar panels too!

It was interesting chatting to fellow walkers such as Yvonne Edwards who had much experience in building projects and renewable energy and provided very insightful information about renewable energy in the UK which she spoke to Mr Selous about.  Another walker, Nicky Wiseman, who is very passionate about renewable energy also raised her concerns to Mr Selous during the walk.

Focusing on Light and Life – taking time to pray and reflect

We stopped at various points to participate in, as Erika Pratt summed up, “a thought provoking prayer and reflection which was so lovely”.

Mr Selous had to go after an hour and there was time for the rest of the group to stop for a coffee, a chat and to cool down from the lovely heat and carry on with the liturgy.

Having a coffee break

Taking another moment to pray and reflect – “our daily bread”

Those who had the stamina continued with the walk and we said goodbye to some who did so well getting as far as they did.  We past lovely fields and woodlands and Mary Flach commented “It is lovely for us to be here in nature to see its beauty, what we love about creation!”

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We stopped for lunch and then continued with the walk.  This took us through woods and meadows which was so beautiful.

Enjoying a well deserved lunch

Four hours later we were saying goodbye to everyone having had a wonderful time.  Deborah concluded, “It was a fantastic day!  It was great having Mr Selous MP join us and listen to our concerns and for us to hear from him.  My fellow walkers were wonderful and it was great to get to know them better, pray and enjoy the beauty of nature together.”

A big thank you to those who organised such a marvellous Speak Up event and to Mr Selous for attending.  We hope that your efforts will help lift families out of poverty and that every child will have the power to achieve great things!

>> Join your voice with ours by signing our petition to the World Bank today.

“Faith in Action” day at St Paul’s School

CAFOD Education volunteers Ged Nolan and Cathy Stormonth were excited to be attending the St Paul’s School Faith in Action Day with students from other Catholic secondary schools – Thornton College, St Thomas Becket, St Thomas More and Cardinal Newman and guests from Pax Christi, The Columbans, Young Christian Workers, Northampton Youth Ministry Office and of course CAFOD!

Ged and Cathy with Bishop Peter at the CAFOD stall

An exhibition stand was set up with all the latest information from CAFOD including information about CAFOD’s work using our Learning hub, the ‘Power to be’ campaign, how to run a Lampedusa Cross refugee pilgrimage, some general fundraising ideas and specific fundraising for Autumn Harvest and Christmas World Gifts and lots on Climate Change and about Pope Francis’ message to everyone – Laudato Si’.

Bishop Peter addresses delegates at Faith In Action day – St Paul’s School MK

The ‘Faith in Action’ day was opened by the Northampton Youth Ministry with a reading, prayer and time for reflection. Bishop Peter, who was in attendance, greeted everyone and was promptly asked some searching questions by the Youth Worker about why he was there and what he hoped to achieve that day? The interviewer also asked the students the same questions with much hilarity when students gave some frank answers such as ‘I’m attending because I’m missing lessons at school!’

Ged Nolan – CAFOD stall

The CAFOD stand attracted students who browsed the resources and took some away. Ged and Cathy were able to talk to students and give them some ideas about community service and fundraising.

The students left to go to their class-based ‘Faith in Action’ sessions and this left the teachers, other staff, Bishop Peter and Fr Tony Brennan for the ’Professionals in Attendance’ session with CAFOD. Ged gave some tips for the ‘Faith in Action Award’ and also explained how well the Power to be assemblies and workshops were going as schools wanted to learn more about the importance of sustainable and safe energy.  They described how having access renewable energy, solar panels, in a town in Kenya has helped transformed the lives of the community.  Children have the chance of a better education as they are able to study for longer periods and are empowered to realise their dreams and ambitions.  All agreed that they wanted to explore this powerful campaign further and adapt it to their schools’ needs.

>> Sign our Power to Be campaign petition

A discussion about the importance of Laudato Si’ ensued and the ongoing refugee crisis.  It was a useful discussion and it was clear that all schools attending wanted to work with CAFOD next year and praised the high quality of CAFOD resources.  Cathy and Ged were very pleased to hear this and are looking forward to working with schools in the year ahead.

A big thank you to St Paul’s for inviting CAFOD to be part of the “Faith in Action” day and to Schools’ volunteers Cathy and Ged for supporting the day and raising the plight of those living in poverty.

If you are interested in being a schools’ volunteer please get in touch