North-East MPs Speak Up for CAFOD

Jeremy Cain, Community Participation Coordinator for Hexham and Newcastle, tells us about how local MPs are supporting us in our campaign on climate change.

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CAFOD supporters tour School Aycliffe Solar Farm. Photo courtesy of the Northern Echo.

A field full of giant solar panels might seem a strange place to be on an overcast Autumn morning but that didn’t prevent two MPs, several councillors and around thirty local people from turning up to hear how climate change affects us all.

From floods in the north-east of England to hurricanes in Haiti and droughts in sub-Saharan Africa, the catastrophic impacts of climate change are regularly in the news and we’re all aware of the suffering they cause. Yet even though we know all about the need to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, it sometimes seems there’s little we can do beyond keeping our heads down and hoping for the best.

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From left: Helen Goodman MP, Mayor Jed Hillary, Councillor John Clare, Phil Wilson MP. Sarah Cain is holding the CAFOD sun.

CAFOD, believes otherwise. As David Cross, CAFOD Community Participation Co-ordinator, explained, “Although each change we might make- switching lights off for example- might seem small in itself, together it all adds up. If we are calling on politicians to cut emissions and support sustainable energy, then our words will be much stronger if we commit to achieving the same goals in our own lives.”

Nicol Perryman, Managing Director of Windward Renewables, and the event organiser agreed: “At the Paris Climate Change Conference in December, our government agreed to work with 194 other nations to limit global temperature rises to below 1.5°C. If we all work together, then we really can make a difference.”

The event was held at Newton Aycliffe solar farm, a renewable energy facility built and managed by Lightsource, Europe’s largest developer of solar photovoltaic projects. It was part of a nationwide campaign organised by the Climate Coalition to encourage our politicians to make good on its promised in Paris. In fact Theresa May has already announced that her government will start work on ratifying the agreement but the Climate Coalition wants to make sure includes robust measures to promote sustainable transport, provide warm homes for all and invest in the development of green energy supplies.

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David Cross, Community Participation Coordinator, explains how climate change effects those living in poverty.

The organisers greatly welcomed the involvement of MPs Phil Wilson and Helen Goodman as well as Jed Hillary, Mayor of Great Aycliffe and other local councillors, who took time out from their busy schedules to attend the event and show their support for renewable energy in the UK.

So, what links a solar farm in Newton Aycliffe with a smallholder farm in Nigeria and why are an overseas aid charity involved? David Cross of CAFOD again: “We believe that climate change is the biggest single threat to reducing poverty overseas. Current projections suggest that over the next 20 years up to 200 million people will be at risk of hunger if the planet sees the possible 2 to 3°C rise in temperature. Switching to renewable energy, such as that generated here at Newton Aycliffe can really help.

But schemes like this can also point the way in how energy should be provided in the developing world. One in five of our brothers and sisters around the world don’t have the electricity they need to power school, clinics, homes and businesses. Local, renewable energy is a practical, affordable solution. It helps tackle climate change and poverty.”

We’d love it if you got involved. Write to your MP to call on the UK government to bring power to the poorest people overseas. You might also consider some things we can all do to better care for creation and love our neighbours – from emailing to politicians to saving energy at home or at church to spreading the word about the campaign in your parish. Find all the resources you need and order free copies to share at home and in your parish.

CAFOD Hexham & Newcastle Year of Mercy Pilgrimage to Holy Island, Saturday 10 September 2016.

Come and join us for our CAFOD Hexham and Newcastle Year of Mercy Pilgrimage to Holy Island on Saturday 10 September. This year our pilgrimage will focus on the refugee crisis and people will be asked to write messages of hope which will be presented to refugees later in the year. We will be using the Lampedusa Cross reflections throughout the pilgrimage.

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Crossing to Holy Island on The Pilgrim’s Way

Our walk across the causeway begins promptly at 12.30pm. There will be a coinciding liturgy in St Aidan’s RC church on the island at 1.30pm and the day will conclude with Holy Mass, celebrated by Fr Chris Hughes at 3.00pm in St Mary’s church in the priory grounds.

We need volunteers on the day!  We need stewards, musicians, readers, Eucharistic Ministers… can you help? If so please get in touch either by email; hexhamandnewcastle@cafod.org.uk or by phoning 0191 384 4847

Laudato Si’; how the Pope’s encyclical has changed the world

It has been a year since Pope Francis published his encyclical, entitled “Laudato Si’, on Care for our Common Home.” His theological message, written with hope and resolve, brought Catholics together to call to dialogue and look at how the earth is being mistreated. His letter asking us to care for God’s creation has become a crucial dimension of Catholic Social Teaching and has instigated global activity to combat climate change.

His letter’s greatest impact, on the international scene, came at the Paris climate talks in December 2015.  Many Catholics joined other Christians on pilgrimages to Paris ahead of the talks to put pressure on leaders of the nations in attendance.

MarchingCAFOD supporter Georgia White from Leicester travelled to the Paris with 20 other CAFOD supporters and staff. She notes how, “it was important that our delegation attended the conference so that we could pray and campaign for those who are most affected by climate change.  It was also an opportunity to play an active part in witnessing the church’s commitment to social justice.”

She agrees that, “The Papal Encyclical is a worldwide wake-up call that helps humanity to understand the destruction that we are causing to the environment. Above all else, it is a challenge, to believers and non-believers alike, to do something in the face of climate change.”

On a diocesan level, many parishes and schools have undertaken their own encyclical implementation efforts. In the Hexham and Newcastle diocese, parishes have been going greener to respond to Pope Francis’ invitation to “work with generosity and tenderness in protecting this world which God has entrusted to us.”

Find out how your parish can become greener.

CAFOD representative in Hexham and Newcastle, Jeremy Cain, said: “It’s good to know the Pope sees the world the same way that we do. I’m inspired by the way he shows us the links between people and the environment from both a physical and spiritual perspective. We are so grateful for all that parishes and schools are doing to put the Pope’s message into action.”

Continue reading about the Laudato Si’. 

Written by CAFOD’s Katherine Binns