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.
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 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.
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 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.”
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!”
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.”