School Volunteers gather for Summer term Refresher

On Monday 8 May, our lovely team of School Volunteers across Birmingham Archdiocese gathered for our Summer Term Refresher.

It was a pleasure to be joined by Gemma Salter, from our Education Team, who helped unpack some of our Summer Term assemblies and workshops for primary and secondary schools.

These included assemblies and workshops on our Power to be campaign. We got hands on and created our own sun of messages calling on the World Bank to support local, renewable energy so that children everywhere have the power to achieve great things and lift themselves out of poverty.

SV Summer Refresher- use

Our Birmingham Archdiocesan team of School Volunteers with their ‘Power to be’ sun

We also heard a moving account of the impact of climate change and CAFOD’s work in Cambodia from our Step into the Gap Volunteer, Charlotte Bray’s, recent visit.

Thank-you very much to all who joined us, for your energy and enthusiasm and for being such a great inspiration to children and young people across our Archdiocese.

Would you like to join our School Volunteer team? http://cafod.org.uk/Volunteer/Volunteer-with-us/Education-volunteer

We’d be delighted to hear from you at birmingham@cafod.org.uk or on 01922 722 944.

Coventry campaigner travels to parliament to ask MPs important questions before the general election

Local campaigner Kris Pears, travelled from Coventry 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.

On Monday 24 April, sixty supporters of the aid agency CAFOD travelled from across the country to meet with MPs from different political parties at Speaker’s House in Parliament.

Kris Pears and Jim Cunningham

Kris met his MP, Jim Cunningham, the Labour MP for South Coventry. “We spoke about the climate agreement that was made in Paris at COP21 and what we thought about Trump’s attitude. Then very generally about social justice issues, both at home and overseas,” said Kris.

“The single most important question is: Will your party maintain the UK Government’s commitment to 0.7% for overseas aid into the future? Not only that, but also commit to making the money totally auditable, preferably through the Department for International Development, rather than hiving off parts of the budget to other departments who are not faced with the same level of probity.”

Commons Speaker the Rt Hon John Bercow MP told the reception:

“For my part, I always think the greatest moral challenge of our times is to try to do something about the gross crisis and disfiguring scar of global poverty. The fact that 1,000 million people around the world exist on less than a dollar a day and very large numbers of people besides exist on only moderately more than that is, frankly, a source not only of anxiety but of real shame to us all.”

The campaigners at the Parliamentary reception are CAFOD ‘MP Correspondents’, supporters who write to MPs on international development issues such as the impact of climate change and trade practices.

CAFOD is encouraging Catholics to ask election candidates to support UK commitments on tackling poverty overseas and climate change, as well as working to ensure that Britain remains an outward-looking and welcoming nation.

Neil Thorns, CAFOD’s Director of Advocacy, said:

“It is so great to see local constituents raising their voices before the general election and making their local political representatives aware of issues that are important to them.

“Pope Francis himself warns that people living in poverty can often be an ‘afterthought’ in political discussions and that’s why it’s so important that we remind candidates of the need to remain an outward-looking nation – one that cares for the interests of people in the world’s poorest communities.

“This is why the commitment to maintaining UK support for overseas aid is crucial for saving lives and pulling people out of poverty.”

Kris added he felt it was important that everyone got involved before the election. “We have been presented with an opportunity that wasn’t there a week ago, we were expecting to have an election in three years’ time and be stuck with what we’ve got until then, now is our chance to question not only our MP but also other candidates who want to take their place.”

Find questions to ask your candidates at cafod.org.uk/election

Climate Change Workshop at Taizé Birmingham

St Peter appears quite oafish in the Alfresco of the Last Supper that lies behind the altar of St Michael’s Roman Catholic Church in Birmingham.  Broad shouldered and stern faced he looks as if he should be ‘engaging’ in a scrum not with the disciples and Christ over bread and wine.  He seems out of place quite frankly.  Bemused and in denial as to what is going on.  It’s that look of malaise, incredulity and weariness that glazes over your eyeballs every time the word ‘Climate change is mentioned’. I felt a lot like that last Sunday as I passed through the Church’s small yet resolved wooden doors to attend the ‘Climate change workshop’ led by CAFOD and A Rocha as part of the Taizé Birmingham weekend.  What could I as a willing contributor to climate change possibly contribute back?  Tackling what seems to be a matter of the survival of our species is out of my hands, best left to those who know more and would perhaps have a significant impact upon my own ability to go to sleep at night.  I also know somebody who is writing her PHD on developing new ways to store nuclear waste so turning off a light bulb did strike me as a bit lackadaisical in my ‘new age’ outlook.  What’s more so, why should I take heed of this world when everything I’ve been told about Christianity is supranatural, transcendent, immaterial and spirit.  Reconciling a ‘Theocentric’ environmentalist message with an immaterial faith is challenging to say the least.  Render unto Ceasar that which is his, my kingdom is not of this earth, the general apocalyptic tone of ummm the apocalypse.  Well if the statistics that were projected onto the wall directly adjacent to Judas are correct the bible is lying because we do not have to wait for a ‘second coming’ of Christ at all.  We are ushering in our own one.

The man from A rocha (the rock) told us of Jeremiah 29 and our duty of care for creation.  The ‘oikos’ of planet earth, economic idolatry of post war Western industry, the world being broken, the poorest suffering first, how climate change caused grain prices to crash, which in turn fermented the Arab spring, which caused the Syrian civil war which caused the current refuguee crisis sweeping across Europe.  Whilst all thoroughly terrifying, facts speak louder than words.

The Overhead was taken from here – http://assets.wwf.org.uk/custom/lpr2016/?utm_source=search&utm_medium=display&utm_campaign=lpr2016&pc=HBG003004&pc=AQJ001002&ds_medium=cpc&gclid=CODp4pHlzNMCFY8Q0wodRzACvg&gclsrc=aw.ds

A link to the WWF’s living planet index.  I knew from launching a people’s elbow onto a friends head when I was younger that The Rock and the WWF were related to one another but this new relationship between the two was news to me!  Shame this new one isn’t pretending in its melodrama.  These statistics along with hundreds of others are just a google away and real.  The weight of them is soul crushing.  The Holy Father writes in Laudato Si that we are making a material desert of the world and in turn becoming spiritual deserts ourselves.

A Rocha is portugese for the the rock and in conjunction with CAFOD they struggle in the tremendous task of loving God’s world, his creation and everything in it.  I suggested in passing that maybe this was a bit ‘paganistic’. All this talk of trees, and plants, deserts and seas, birds and fish  reminded me of gaia, mother earth and all her earth centred faiths which sat uncomfortably with me until I considered the incarnation.  God so loved the world….  We are not Nestorian or Arian in our church.  A middle ground was forged 1300 years ago at the council of Nicaea.  We believe in the material bodily raised Christ.  If the resurrection of his earthly body did not happen then our belief was for nothing.  You do not have to ‘intertwine’ environmentalism with Christianity.  There is little fallacious or forced about it.  Christ died so that we may live, on Earth as it is in heaven. I seriously doubt he had this type of life in mind for us.

The speaker from A Rocha made an interesting point that out of Western modernity with its ego-centric impulses, think Neo-liberalism, where competition between one another not only defines us as a species but also our fate, and ecocentric agnosticism a middle ground was being forged by Christians where a legitimate ‘theocentric’ environmentalism could be reclaimed from the bible.  It moved the speaker enough to write a PHD on Pope Francis’ own environmentalist message which his Holy Father attests to in Laudato Si.  Theocentric environmentalism is spiritual Christianity as being the  beating heart of this material world.

written by a CAFOD Volunteer

Find out more about Campaigning with CAFOD : http://cafod.org.uk/Campaign/Latest-campaigns