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E-Bulletin Contents: –
***ACTION OF THE WEEK***
News and Comment
- Fratelli Tutti – comments on Pope Francis’ new Encyclical
- Connecting Social Action work with the Church’s message
- NJPN columns in the Universe
- Is it ethical to accept medical treatments derived from abortions?
- Christian CND AGM 2020
- Praying for Myanmar
- Launch of Reset the Debt
- Environmental Issues
- Update on KitKat
11. Lancaster Faith and Justice October 2020
12. News from Quaker Peace and Social Action
13. ECCR September 2020
Events 14. Webinar: the Corporate Takeover of Health
15. Regional Workshops for climate action
16. Build Back Better HOW? (Compass)
17. Re-Imagining the Promised Land (Green Christian)
18. Asylum Explained (JRS)
19. Radical Presence (Green Christian)
20. UN Solidarity with the Palestine People (Palestine Solidarity Campaign)
21. Quaker Activist Gathering
22. Pax Christi Advent Service
23. Reset the Debt
24. Save Family Reunion
25. Steps to Freedom Challenge
26. Biofuelwatch: Protect Forests
27. Yemen: Email your MP
28. RSPB – Revive our World
29. Stop people being evicted
The Last Word
30. Art as Resistance
***ACTION OF THE WEEK***
Challenge Poverty Week 12 – 18 October 2020
Challenge Poverty Week is on in England and Wales for the first time.
On their website, you’ll find details of events, useful resources, and various suggestions for getting involved. But you may be wondering: where did the idea come from?
In essence, it’s happening here this year because we have seen how successful and powerful it has been elsewhere. The Poverty Alliance in Scotland has been running its Challenge Poverty Week for the past seven years, and it has grown to become a powerful fixture in the calendar.
Community groups, charities, councils and small groups of individuals have organised events, held decision-makers to account, and ensured that ending poverty is a national priority. Last year, it generated national media attention and led to questions and debates in the Holyrood and Westminster Parliaments, and led to people with personal experience of poverty sharing their experiences and ideas in a safe and effective way.
Last year, we also took part in End Hunger Week, and were heartened by the number of people groups who wanted to take a stand and call for an end to poverty. We wanted to build on that resolve and enthusiasm this year.
We know there is a huge appetite for change across England and Wales as well, and we know that by harnessing the wisdom, ingenuity and determination of people across the anti-poverty movement, we can make change happen.
NEWS AND COMMENT
1. Fratelli Tutti – positive comments from around the world
Much has been made of Pope Francis’ new Encyclical, which was launched last weekend. Described by Austen Ivereigh as an ‘Invitation to rediscover a sense of human togetherness’ – something that very much seems to be missing in much of today’s society, and indeed the insular world that we seem to be comfortable in here in the UK. Listen to the interview with Austen Ivereigh, through the Mill Hill Missionaries page here.
The African Bishops have dubbed it ‘A call to end Africa’s ethnic divisions,’ as well as being a call ‘to work assiduously for religious freedom.’ To read their full statement on the 8th October, go to the aciaafrica website.
Christine Allen from CAFOD has described it as ‘A message for all people’ – in which Pope Francis praises the togetherness shown by society during the Covid-19 crisis.
But the Pope warns that a fragmented global response risks creating a “setback” on the journey to building a fairer world.
Pope Francis argues in the encyclical that politics should be “re-evaluated” to focus on serving the common good, not economic interests. The full CAFOD statement is available here.
Judge Mohamed Mahmoud Abdel Salem is the first ever Muslim to present a papal encyclical. Advisor to the Grand Imam of Al Azhar, Ahmed al-Tayeb, he is now secretary general of the Higher Committee of Human Fraternity set up to promote that historic document which the two religious leaders signed in Abu Dhabi on Feb. 4, 2019. In an interview with America, after speaking at the Vatican presentation of the pope’s new encyclical “Fratelli Tutti,” on 4th October, he said “I was really very moved when I first read Pope Francis’ message. I felt that the pope is representing me in every word, in everything he said,”
He views the pope’s encyclical as “the guide to putting into practice the Human Fraternity document,” and he considers the latter as “the constitution” for fostering Christian-Muslim relations. “I see both documents as a very strong barrier against hatred and racism, and evil in general,” he said. “The real Islam and the real Christianity is against intolerance and these negative forces,” he stated. Go to the America webpage to read the full article.
Finally, the Catholic Women’s Council, a coalition of Catholic women’s networks from around the world, have sent an open letter to Pope Francis, very politely asking for him to reconsider the title of the Encyclical – Fratelli Tutti, in literal translation means ‘Brothers All.’ Read what they have to say through Independent Catholic News.
2. The Cross and Shame:
speaking of atonement to a shame-filled society – a booklet.
Rebecca Winfrey has produced a 27 page booklet, title as above. It is an example of the most helpful theology: brief, accessible, reflective and mission-oriented. A book which helps us connect the truth of the gospel to practical action. An ideal guide for anyone involved in a project team as to how gospel truth can be integrated alongside compassionate practice. A review of the booklet is available on the Grace + Truth webpage.
3. Latest NJPN Columns in The Universe
2 October – My escape to a simpler, sustainable life.
Dr Andrew Neil Rollinson is an independent energy engineer and a member of the NJPN Environment Group
I’m escaping. My wife and I have bought an old croft in the Highlands of Scotland. It didn’t cost much, though it has five acres of land, no mains electricity or water, and there is no home, only a ruinous stone shell which we intend to renovate.
What the croft does have is that wildlife is plentiful. Animals that were once abundant in England such as barn owls, hedgehogs, voles, field mice, deer, bees and a rich variety of birds and butterflies, share the space. It also has a small, very friendly community of people.
I grew up in Yorkshire and lived for 50 years in the same town. It was once a collection of farms but through the years I have seen the local authority ride roughshod over the environment and licence an urban sprawl assault. Now, in all directions, cheaply built housing estates stand on the former farms, trees have been cut down without question, and all roads are gridlocked from 7am to 8pm. As a consequence, hedgehogs have been wiped out and the only birds remaining are pigeons and magpies. Nature has been removed, and it has taken with it people’s serenity and sanity.
Feeling the pain of this destruction I have been constantly active: objecting to planning applications, writing letters to the newspaper, and even demonstrating outside the Town Hall with a load hailer. I saw it as my Christian duty to be Jesus’ hands on earth, and because all it takes for evil to succeed is that good people do nothing.
However, last month my wife and I visited our croft and set about making preparations for a permanent move. There I laid foundations for a tool store and started building a caravan canopy. And while doing this I thought, ‘I’m a hypocrite!’ Here I am digging holes, clearing the land and displacing wildlife. I’m doing exactly the same as the property developers in England. It is the thin end of of the same wedge.
But I concluded that there is a difference. That difference is ‘greed’. Unlike the property developer/council partnership I intend to live simply and in harmony with nature, planting hedgerows and wildflowers, taking water from my well, growing my own organic vegetables, having just the bare minimum to subsist. In short, I will cherish and care for ‘our common home’ according to Pope Francis’ 2015 encyclical Laudato Si’.
9 October – Just seeking sanctuary
Phil Kerton is Co-Director of Seeking Sanctuary. He is also a former Chair of NJPN and remains a consultant to its Executive.
We’ve recently seen the Church’s Day for Migrants and Refugees, with statements from Rome, and from Bishop Paul McAleenan, our bishops’ spokesman on the issue. He visited Dover on 15 September to meet volunteers working alongside migrants arriving from France in small boats and passing briefly through the port. ‘Seeking Sanctuary’ was delighted to see local people meeting him and to see a BBC TV team interview him for a ‘Songs of Praise’. Bishop Paul was filmed on the Dover seafront, by the Migrants’ plaque, scheduled for transmission on 11 October.
But what has been happening in Calais?
Charity volunteers have been prohibited from making free distributions of food and water in central Calais. With repeated clearance of shelters and confiscation of property every few days, some people are now sleeping at places remote from the officially-sanctioned food distributions and to reach these many must walk for several hours each way (if they are strong enough). The human rights ombudsman reports that preventing the charitable provision of essential supplies violates several human and constitutional rights.
However, that opinion has failed to convince the courts that the ban should be overturned. Secours Catholique and others have protested about the situation and British members of the cross-Channel network ‘People not Walls’ organised an on-line petition in support. This was delivered by hand on 25 September to the French Embassy in London, but the Home Office refused to take delivery of their copy unless a solicitor was in attendance – a hitherto unknown requirement. The small delivery group was hardly threatening, being made up of two women, a monk and two Catholic priests! With nearly 500 signatures now delivery is being rearranged.
As September drew to a close, Calais saw the largest eviction since the elimination of the infamous ‘Jungle’ in 2016. Around 800 migrants were taken away in coaches early one morning to ‘places of shelter’ elsewhere, 38% of them in the north of France and the majority further away. Almost all will probably make their way back to Calais within a few weeks, with their fear and distrust of French officials further confirmed.
‘Seeking Sanctuary’ finds no joy in reporting such grim news from France, but we are buoyed by support from generous individuals, churches and community groups whose actions continue to contradict the claim that a hostile environment prevails in the UK.
Our thanks go to our friends at The Universe for supporting us. If you would like to take out a subscription to their newspaper and support them in return, please follow this link.
4. Is it ethical to accept medical treatments derived from abortions?
I was surprised this week to receive an email from our Parish Priest, with information contained within from the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales issuing a statement about vaccines derived from foetal cell lines. The full statement is available here to read. What I was more surprised at is that in ‘grave cases’ a vaccine derived from aborted foetuses in the past may be used in good conscience.
The upshot of the report is that the Department for Health and Social Care recognises that the source of the vaccine raises moral concerns and gives assurance that no new human foetal tissue will be used in making the vaccine, although cell-lines developed from the remains of aborted foetuses in the past are being researched by some institutions. The Department has also given assurances that any vaccine which is developed will be safe and effective.
Interestingly, America Magazine have also run a similar article, as during Donald Trump’s stay in hospital with Covid-19 he was treated with two remedies which were derived with cells from an aborted foetus in 1972.
From my personal perspective this makes for very uncomfortable reading. We can only hope and pray that other options will become available given time.
5. Articles around race issues
Why I’m no longer talking to Black people about race
(the way I used to)
An Open Letter to other White people in the UK…
Adrian Lock, Founding Director of Deeper Leaders, has written a brilliant piece in Grace + Truth giving a synopsis of events from George Floyd’s death on the 25th May, and his thoughts about the depths of ignorance in white psyches, and the depth of pain prevalent in black psyches. It gives opinions from both sides, both black and white. Very much worthy of a read. Find it here.
Also, the World Council of Churches have a series of Webinars entitled ‘Theological Reflections on Hate Speech and Whiteness.’ These will happen between 19th October and 23rd October on YouTube. For more information visit their website here.
Columbans launch schools competition – ‘End Racism’
Ellen Teague writes:-
‘Let’s Create A World Without Racism’ is the theme for a schools’ competition launched by the Columban Missionary Society. The objective is to encourage students 14-18 years old to use their media skills to look at a topical issue which is relevant to society today and resonates with Catholic Social Teaching.
The competition is open for writing and image entries until 20 February 2021 and winners will be announced on 15 March 2021. Two separate competitions will be judged, one for students in Ireland and one in Britain and high-profile judges from the world of journalism have been secured.
In June this year, after the death of George Floyd in the United States, Pope Francis said, “we cannot tolerate or turn a blind eye to racism and exclusion in any form and yet claim to defend the sacredness of every human life.” Young people in Ireland and Britain have been out on the streets calling for an end of racism. This is a chance to engage with an issue that addresses equality, justice, inclusion and also draws on faith and personal experience.
Details of the competition are on the poster below. Please give the details to any young people you feel would want to be involved.
6. Report on the Christian CND AGM 2020
The Christian CND AGM took place on Zoom on Saturday 3 October with 40 members and supporters gathering to hear the latest developments in their campaign. Martin Newall from Christian Climate Action joined them and spoke about the work of CCA and his own journey into activism. Workshops also took place where ideas were exchanged and plans for the next year started to take shape.
Details of the AGM are available here.
7. Prayers asked for Myanmar
A 22-month conflict between Myanmar’s military and the rebel Arakan Army has been raging in Rakhine and Chin states. More than 90,000 people have been displaced due to the renewed conflict in Rakhine, which has spilled into neighbouring Chin state, home to many Christians, mostly ethnic Chin. The Arakan Army is a largely Buddhist militia demanding greater autonomy for the ethnic Rakhine people. Rakhine state is also experiencing a separate conflict that has seen more than 700,000 ethnic Rohingya, mostly Muslim, flee to neighbouring Bangladesh since August 2017 due to military offensives. For more details go to the Vatican News page here.
8. Launch of Reset the Debt
The Joint Public Issues Team, in partnership with Church Action on Poverty have launched a new campaign, Reset the Debt.
During lockdown, millions of families in the UK have been forced to borrow money to make ends meet – with the biggest increase in debt amongst the poorest households.
Six million people have fallen behind on rent, council tax and other household bills because of Covid-19.
Almost one in five households borrowed money to buy food or other essentials in July.
This is an urgent problem that demands a solution. So we’re proposing that the Chancellor creates a Jubilee Fund, that will provide grants to pay off and cancel unavoidable debts accrued by households during the lockdown period. We believe that a Jubilee would allow relationships to be reset, communities to be re-balanced, and people’s dignity to be restored.
For more details and to get involved please visit the website here.
9. Environmental Issues
Community say no to coal in Cumbria
Friends of the Earth report:-
The government has just refused planning permission for a controversial opencast coal mine in Druridge Bay, thanks to the tireless work of local campaigners.
But now West Cumbria could soon be home to the UK’s first deep coal mine in 30 years. Not if 16-year old campaigner Isabella and her Climate Action group get their way though.
To read the full report, go to Friends of the Earth here.
Which future do we want to plan for?
Just by chance, after attending the Birmingham Climate Emergency Assembly last week (links to the talks in the Editorial at the top of the page) I received from the RSPB a regular update, including an article entitled ‘Which future do we want to plan for?’ The article was written back in August, when the Government launched their White Paper entitled ‘Planning for the Future.’ The RSPB have assessed the Paper and say that it raises more questions than it answers.
They state ‘The reforms contain real risks for nature and communities. We need clarity from government about how these dramatic proposals could be consistent with nature’s recovery (an issue that the White Paper completely fails to address).
The proposals are open to public consultation for 12 weeks until 29 October, and we will be asking our supporters to include their voice in that over the coming months. ‘
If you haven’t done so already, please look at the White Paper, and read the article on the RSPB website here.
10. Nestle’s Kit Kat will stop being Fairtrade
Back in June, we shared the deeply disappointing news KitKat bars will cease to use Fairtrade ingredients. Since then, you may have seen, or even been part of, the huge public reaction against this decision.
Over a quarter of a million people signed this petition, started by Joanna Pollard a Fairtrade campaigner in Yorkshire, and supported by a range of organisations, asking Nestlé to think again.
And MPs have spoken out too, with the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Fairtrade condemning this decision strongly, after grilling Nestlé representatives in Parliament.
Despite this public response, Nestlé have not changed their decision and KitKat ceased to be Fairtrade from 1st October.
To read more on the impact of the decision, visit the Fairtrade Foundation website here.
11. Lancaster Faith and Justice October 2020
The latest newsletter is available to download here.
12. News from Quaker Peace and Social Witness
Quake! the Quaker Peace and Social Witness newsletter can be found here. It is well worth checking out the Quaker website for details on the work that they are doing to build a more peaceful, just and sustainable world. More information about their work is available here.
13. ECCR September 2020 Newsletter
Another interesting newsletter from the Ecumenical Council for Corporate Responsibility. Find it here.
EVENTS ( in chronological order)
14. Global Justice Now Webinar: the corporate takeover of health
15 October from 7pm
How can we stop corporations controlling healthcare and pharmaceuticals around the world? What is our vision of global health justice and how do take action to bring hope for a healthcare systems around the world that puts people before profit? For more details and to register for this Webinar,
15. Regional Workshops for Climate Action – 19 October – 4 November
Quakers in Britain are working with Faith for the Climate and Christian Aid to deliver a series of interfaith regional online workshops. The workshops are designed to help faith communities connect, skill up and take action against climate breakdown. If you are from the Leeds, Leicester or Manchester areas and would like to participate, find out more and sign up here.
16. #BuildBackBetterHOW – 22 – 31 October
A series of online talks, seminars, and discussions spread over 10 days from the 22nd to the 31st October. These talks will dig deep into what we really mean why we say “Build Back Better”, and how we’re going to make it happen. More details and sign up here.
17. Re-Imagining the Promised Land – 23-25 October
Covid-19 has brought dark times, yet we have seen positives emerge through lockdown: breathing space for nature, renewed community spirit, a focus on the local.
More details from Green Christian.
18. Accompaniment in Action: Asylum Explained – 28 October
Join us for the second of our Accompaniment in Action events where we will be joined by Michael Tarnoky, our Senior Legal Officer, and Bernadette Smith, our Legal Caseworker, as we discuss the asylum system here in the UK. We will talk about how the system works, some of the difficulties our friends face when going through it and have the opportunity for you to ask the questions you might have about the process of seeking safety in the UK. Details from JRS here.
19. Radical Presence – Course running from 1 November
As the world wrestles with Covid-19 in the coming months, let’s stay alert with faith, hope and love – and create a more sustainable, just and compassionate world than we knew before.
Radical Presence is an online series of purposeful conversations with new friends and fellow travellers. In seven sessions we draw on the Bible, science, and a selection of the best journalism and theological reflection on the pandemic. Get involved here.
20. Dynamic Week of Action – 25 November – 2 December
The Palestine Solidarity Campaign are announcing a dynamic week of action to mark the UN Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. Join them from the 25th November – 2nd December for one or more of their events! More details here.
21. Quaker Activist Gathering (online event) – 28 November
As a community of Friends and the Quaker-curious, we will gather online for a spacious, intergenerational, restorative and invigorating day together. There will be opportunities to:
share and hear stories of witness in these trying times, find connection, peace and inspiration with each other ground deeper into the spiritual foundations of our witness. Save the date – more details to follow nearer the time.
22. Pax Christi Advent Peace Service – 7 December
This year our Advent Peace service will be an online event. Full details will follow soon but there will be music, song, powerful readings, messages for Palestine, and a ‘virtual’ marketplace afterwards. We are grateful that Julie McCann will be coordinating the music for us. Click here.
23. Reset the Debt
As mentioned above, Reset the Debt has been launched asking for a fresh start for families swept into debt by Covid-19. Take action and email your MP here.
24. Save Family Reunion
Safe Passage writes: – ‘We’ve now heard that the vote in the House of Commons on refugee family reunion will take place the week of October 19th.
If you’ve not had the chance yet, please write to your MP as soon as possible and let them know you want them to vote for the Amendment to save family reunion.’ Follow the link here.
25. Anti-Slavery Steps to Freedom Challenge
Mark Anti-Slavery Day this October by taking part in our Steps to Freedom challenge.
Steps to Freedom is a virtual challenge where you set your own fitness goal, track your progress and ask your friends and family to sponsor you.
Whether you’re already rocking a lockdown workout, want to jump start your fitness goals or are finally planning to go on one of those walks you talked about during lockdown, your steps can help change the lives of people living in slavery. For more details and to sign up go to their website.
26. Protect forests from tree-burning power stations
Biofuelwatch are asking people to contact their MP and ask them to pledge to protect forests from tree-burning power stations. For more information and to join in click here.
27. Yemen: Email your MP
“After years of documenting the terrible toll of this war, no one can say ‘we did not know what was happening in Yemen’. Accountability is key to ensure that justice is served to the people of Yemen and to humanity.”
This is the message for the world today at the UN Human Rights Council, as the ‘Group of Experts on Yemen’ makes its report. Can you email your MP today, to make sure the UK government gets this vital message?
28. RSPB: Revive our World
Nature is in crisis. In 2020 the importance of having nature in our lives has never been clearer, but the crisis facing nature is huge. So huge that our wellbeing, our economic future, and our very survival depend on the choices we make now. If everyone works together, we have time to turn it around. And when we say everyone, we mean everyone. We need politicians with the power to make big changes to help us build the world we want to live in. Join with RSPB members and sign the petition.
29. Urgently stop people being evicted
38 Degrees are asking you to sign a petition to Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Robert Jenrick (Secretary of State for Housing) asking them to help renters who are facing eviction by providing emergency funding to help clear coronavirus arrears. Further details available here.
30. THE LAST WORD
October 2020 Art As Resistance Monthly Spotlight: Sameer Qumsiyeh
Israel’s project of colonisation seeks not just to colonise the land but to erase the memory of Palestinian presence, history and culture. Those of you who have visited Palestine will have seen written many times, especially on the apartheid wall that snakes its way though East Jerusalem and the West Bank, the slogan ‘to exist is to resist’.
In solidarity with the Palestinian artists keeping culture alive, the Palestine Solidarity Campaign introduces PSC’s ‘Art As Resistance’ Monthly Spotlight, celebrating Palestinian voices and bringing Palestinian art to the forefront.
Sameer Qumsiyeh is a filmmaker from Bethlehem who – despite the walls surrounding his life – creates personal films with a global vision. Check out his film ‘Quarantine, Curfew and Videotapes,’ his way of revisiting a traumatic past in an attempt for a reconciliation.
To support Sameer, you can also like his page on Facebook.
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