Putting Laudato Si’ into practice

Louise Abraham, parish and campaign volunteer for Brentwood Cathedral, reflects on some of the key messages of Laudato Si’ and how we can put them into practice

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Louise Abraham

In 2015, Pope Francis published the encyclical Laudato Si‘. It articulated the Church’s critique of the ‘throwaway culture’ that we live in today and the unsustainable model of development that still relies largely on fossil fuels. There is a great emphasis on our climate being ‘a common good’ and the availability of clean, drinkable water. The encyclical also draws upon the overwhelming scientific evidence that supports warming of the environment and its adverse effects, a fact that is important to remember in this ‘Fake News Era’. Ultimately, Laudato Si’ invites all people of good will across the world to be stewards of God’s creation and right the social injustice many poor people face because of our over-consumption. Caring for our ‘common home’ requires a united effort because issues that concern our climate and environment transcend our man-made borders.

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Access to clean, safe water is a priority in many CAFOD projects

While there are numerous references to the relationship between man and the environment in the Bible, Laudato Si’ remains us that they should all be considered in context. The underlying message is that as humans we have ‘a mutual responsibility’ to care for nature in order to maintain it for future generations. However, this is currently not the case. Sadly it is often the people that live in harmony with nature – indigenous communities and many people in developing countries – that are bearing the brunt of our changing climate. We live in an interconnected world; our actions here in Western Europe have consequences that reach the other side of the world. Natural wonders such as the Great Barrier Reef are slowly being bleached by rising global temperatures. The glaciers on mountain-tops such as the Himalayas are melting, which is impacting the freshwater ecosystems that over a billion people rely on for drinking water, agriculture and hygiene.

“The underlying message (of Laudato Si’) is that as humans we have ‘a mutual responsibility’ to care for nature in order to maintain it for future generations. Often indigenous communities and people in developing countries bear the brunt of our changing climate”

In 2013 Brentwood Cathedral managed to become the first Cathedral in England & Wales to earn the livesimply award. This means that as a parish, we have shown that we have been living simply, in solidarity with people in poverty and sustainably with creation. Five years on, we continue to strive towards living simply by adopting more environmentally friendly forms of energy such as changing the lightbulbs in the Cathedral’s chandeliers to low energy bulbs and walking to Mass. I’m delighted to learn that several other parishes in the diocese have since either achieved or are actively pursuing the livesimply award.

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Brentwood Cathedral Livesimply action group with the assessors for the award

As Brenda Underwood, coordinator for the Cathedral project said, we can’t afford to rest on our laurels. Having a goal to strive for can be easier than to rally a team together and track progress. As a community, we must go beyond livesimply week to ensure we keep living sustainably. We can continue walking more, reducing water waste and turn off lights in an empty room.

We can also urge those in power to act responsibly and promote a more sustainable way of life. CAFOD’s recent ‘zero hero’ campaign invited people to write to their MPs and urge them to support a net zero target on emissions by 2050.

“As a community, we must go beyond livesimply to ensure we keep living sustainably. We can continue walking more, reducing water waste and turn off lights in an empty room”

In December I will be joining a group of over 30 campaigners from CAFOD, and others from partner organisations at the ‘COP24’ (the 24th UN Convention on Climate Change). We will be marching in solidarity with other campaigners to put pressure of world leaders push forward the goals of the Paris Agreement in 2015.

For those wanting to reflect more deeply about Laudato Si, CAFOD has produced a study guide which encourages us to examine our surroundings and the way we treat God’s creations. Study guides can be found here: https://cafod.org.uk/Pray/Laudato-Si-encyclical

A small adjustment in attitudes from everyone can have a great effect over time. Development and technology are evolving at a rapid rate, which requires more and more energy. Change will be difficult, but it is for the good of future generations.

Excitement ahead for Gapper Kiera!

In September, Kiera Harman begins a one year placement at Walsingham House for the Brentwood Catholic Youth Service as well as CAFOD’s Step into Gap programme. Kiera will give us regular updates on her activities throughout the year

Hello my name is Kiera. I am 18 years old and I have just finished my A levels.

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This year I will be completing my placement at Walsingham House in Brentwood in the south east of the UK. I am looking forward to working with young people and more especially developing my faith and achieving a greater understanding of the faith I am lucky to be part of.

 

 I am extremely excited for the year ahead and most especially the work which I will be doing on the Step into the Gap programme with CAFOD.  

I have previously completed the CAFOD young leaders programme which sparked my interest in current issues especially those surrounding climate change and the refugee crisis. 

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Young Leaders, including Kiera, at Parliament showing their support for CAFOD’s new campaign

In April 2017 I travelled from Wickford to Westminster to speak with MPs in Parliament to ensure the interests of the world’s poorest people will be kept in mind during the upcoming general election.   

 

 

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Kiera with others at one of the CAFOD Young Leaders’ Days

 

I hope I can raise awareness of these. I cannot wait to see first-hand the work the CAFOD in developing countries and to share these experiences with individuals that I will meet throughout the year. I couldn’t be more excited for the year ahead.

Share the Journey: Chigwell Sisters offer 3 days of solidarity and prayer for refugees

For 3 days at the end of August, the Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus & Mary (Chigwell Sisters) welcomed parishioners to their home at Chigwell Convent in order to ‘Share the Journey’. Sr Clara Phiri, a Chigwell Sister, describes why her congregation is moved to express solidarity with displaced people across the world.   

As part of the world-wide call by Pope Francis to ‘Share the Journey’, we the Chigwell Sisters walked in solidarity with millions of refugees and migrants who flee from war, poverty and exploitation, in search of safety for themselves and their loved ones.

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Sharing the Journey

We opened the doors of our gardens at the convent for 3 days to give an opportunity to our parishioners to pray freely whenever it suited them. We decided to conduct our journey in this way to celebrate our Feast day of St Augustine which fell on the August 28 and this was our way to unite ourselves with all the people around the world who are currently struggling to find a place to call home.

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This campaign is important for our Congregation because we have a community in Pabo in north Uganda, and near to the border with South Sudan. It is also close to the Bidi Bidi camp which is one of the fastest growing refugee camps in Africa. The Bidi Bidi camp is home to approximately 270,000 South Sudanese refugees that are fleeing the ongoing civil war.

 

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One of the stories being read by Sr Pierina

The fact that a poor country like Uganda has opened its doors to welcome our brothers and sisters inspired us to take part in this campaign to include our voices in the cry for help for all the people that are currently suffering due to this crisis. Our hope is that at the forthcoming UN General Assembly the UK government will take the lead and speaking up for the implementation of policies that create a world where refugees and migrants and people on the move are treated with dignity and respect, and that protect the life of every human being.

We pray that world leaders seeing the tragedies currently being experienced by our brothers and sisters will respond with wisdom and compassion so that they do what is necessary to improve the lives of refugees and migrants.

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40,000 CAFOD supporters have now walked over 100,000 miles as part of the Share the Journey campaign. Sister Clara handed our petition in to Downing Street recently urging the UK government to put the rights of refugees at the heart of the UN agreements.