What’s new in World Gifts? Think you’ll love it!


Our new and updated range of World Gifts is out!

World Gifts is CAFOD’s virtual giving scheme. Back when it started in 2003, it was one of the first virtual gift schemes out there. We wanted to find a way for people to engage tangibly with our work and support CAFOD around Christmas, and so World Gifts was born. World Gifts is arguably for everyone – mainly individuals buy them as gifts for their loved ones, but schools and parishes do fundraise to either buy one more expensive gift, or lots of less expensive gifts.

Although World Gifts is a fun way to support CAFOD, it’s also a great way to hear about different areas of our work. Even people who work at CAFOD say they didn’t realise some of the things we do when they read a World Gifts case study.

The most popular World Gifts… and why?

The most popular gifts change a little each year, but some of the firm favourites are Teach someone to read, Water for a family and Happy Queen bee.

The Keep clean kit, new this year, is also proving very popular. I think these gifts are well-liked because they’re easy to understand. Here in the UK we can take for granted having the opportunity to learn to read, or access to clean running water, but everyone can appreciate how vital these are. With the Happy queen bee gift I think partly it’s because it’s our bargain gift, at just £4, but also because everyone loves bees!

We’ve been particularly busy this year. If you’ve bought World Gifts before, you’ll notice we’ve given ourselves a revamp. We hope you love it as much as we do. The designs are new but World Gifts works in just the same way – a great way to buy someone a gift while also donating to charity.

What’s new?

Keep clean kit illustration

Keep clean kit   £6

The pandemic has really emphasised the importance of good hand-hygiene, and we’re generally all getting used to wearing masks to keep us all safe from infection. For some people living in poverty, access to soap and masks is limited, so people can’t keep as clean as they like, or feel like they can’t go outside. This simple gift provides soap, reusable facemasks and detergent for a family. Keeping people safe and giving them the confidence to go outside to buy necessities, work and go to school.

Messages of hope illustration

Messages of hope  £67

Again, based on the work CAFOD has been doing with local experts to keep remote communities safe during the pandemic. This gift provides a loudspeaker so that people can go into remote areas with factual advice on how to try and keep safe during the pandemic. Local leaders in communities are trusted, so enabling them to reach lot of people at once  means more people can stay safe with the correct information.

PPE for a health worker

PPE for a health worker  £127

Perfect for an extra special gift, or something to fundraise for as a group. We’ve all come to realise the importance of PPE to keep our health workers safe, and to give people confidence to seek medical help when they need it.

Emergency food illustration

Emergency food   £50

Having access to food after a crisis is always essential. In the wake of the Beirut explosion, our partners were distributing emergency food and water on the same day, to people who’s homes had been destroyed. If a crisis happens now, on top of the pandemic, this need will be greater than ever. We haven’t had this gift for a few years but it seemed particularly important to bring it back this year!

Solar lamp illustrtation

Solar lamp   £30

This is another gift that we have brought back. A brilliant way to give an eco-friendly gift. As we’re all spending more time indoors, having light to live by is even more essential. A solar lamp replaces candles and kerosene lamps which produced nasty fumes, allowing children to do their homework, and adults to read, cook and work by without fearing illness from the pollution.

Listening centre

Listening centre   £50

This gift can bring comfort to women who have suffered sexual violence and are no longer welcomed by their community. Unfortunately a common occurrence during times of conflict, the listening centre provides women with a safe place to receive medical aid and psychological help to heal from their experiences. They also learn practical skills to help earn an income and their children are supported through education.

Anything else?

We know that this year has been particular hard when it comes to seeing our loved ones. Many of us are facing restrictions that limit our movement and our socialising, and we’re all wondering what Christmas will bring.

To make things a little simpler, we have created a new way for you to send your World Gifts. Rather than ordering cards to personalise and then give your cards in person, or post on, you can now write a personalised message online, and send the card directly to your loved one.

Choose the “Post Direct” option when selecting how you want to send your card.  In a year where there is so much uncertainty around who we will be able to see, we really hope that this option helps people to feel a bit more connected.

How has the pandemic affected World Gifts this year?

I think people are turning to World Gifts more than they normally would. Perhaps because most of us can’t go out shopping at the moment. Or because many of us have reassessed what’s important to us this year, so a charity gift seems the best thing to give. The website has certainly seen a lot more orders coming through as people turn more and more to online ways to support CAFOD.

From a group fundraising perspective, I think it has been really challenging. We normally send out batches of World Gifts catalogues to parishes all over England and Wales, but with lockdown restrictions, we’ve had to postpone that in England. But I have heard about schools and parishes still managing to fundraise, sometimes converting their usual activities into virtual ones. People have really used their imagination, which is brilliant. And I know people see World Gifts as quite an uplifting thing to engage with at this difficult time.

How can you get involved?

Buy a World Gift! You can see the full range at cafod.org.uk/worldgifts or you can order via the catalogue (you can order more free catalogues here) if you’ve got your hands on one of those. Already done that? You could see if anyone in your parish or school wants to fundraise for World Gifts.

Or you could just spread the word, whether on social media, in your parish bulletin or just chatting to your friends. We know the more people who hear about World Gifts, the better! I also know that right now is a really hard time financially for a lot of people. World Gifts start from just £4, but they’re also available all year round. So if you can’t buy a World Gift now, you can always do it for another occasion.

Giving a World Gift changes lives and brings happiness!

If you’d like more information on how to send a World Gift this Christmas, click here.


You can read our official World Gifts 2020 press release here.

Send a message of solidarity for Christmas to brave people who are risking everything to speak up for the environment, peace and human rights


Every day, human rights defenders and environmental activists across the world are risking everything to defend our brothers and sisters and protect our common home.

They are active citizens just like many of you, our supporters in England and Wales. They are campaigning for a safe place to live or demonstrating about climate change.

Defending human rights can be very dangerous in many of the countries where we work.

Human rights defenders most at risk are often those working on land, indigenous and environmental rights. They can face threats, harassment or arrest, and so can their families.

This year has been particularly tough for these brave people because of the devastation of coronavirus. Lockdowns have been enforced brutally in some countries. Parents who have broken quarantine to try to earn money to feed their children have been thrown into prison, leaving their families with nothing.

Access to clean water has also become an urgent human rights issue in El Salvador, so the Church has been asserting and defending the right of people to access water without paying for it.

More than 300 human rights defenders were killed last year. Some of these brave individuals are friends of CAFOD.

Read more about Father Alfred Buju from the Democratic Republic of Congo. Defending local communities against human rights abuses and environmental destruction associated with mining companies has made him and his colleagues targets for intimidation.

Despite the risks, Father Alfred continues to dedicate himself to this work. He says:

“I am inspired by the stories of others such as Martin Luther King and Oscar Romero,”


“Faith is a journey and you have to walk in the footsteps of those who came before you. Without sacrifice, there cannot be change.”

And Palwasha Hassan who fights for women’s rights in Afghanistan, and Claudelice Silva dos Santos who stands up to companies logging illegally in the Amazon.

Palwasha Hassan has spent her life fighting for women’s rights. She is now director of the Afghan Women’s Educational Centre. “Peace is never real without an inclusive, equal society.”

Claudelice’s brother, Jose Claudio, and his partner Maria, were murdered after spending years resisting the illegal acquisition of land and deforestation. The threats made to them were well known, as were efforts to sabotage their family business.

Each year, through the autumn, we ask for messages that we can send to them at the end of the year to let them know we’re supporting them in their struggle.

Because of how different parish life is at the moment, and because last year many of you asked for more notice, this year we’re giving you plenty of time to plan to collect a few messages, if you can.

This Advent, amid the busyness of the season, the waiting in joyful expectation, remember that they are waiting too – for justice and safety.

There are many other brave human rights defenders that you can send a message to this Christmas.

Take a moment to learn more about their struggle here  and please take couple of minutes to write a personal message to one of them to show that you are standing in solidarity with them in their battle for social, cultural and environmental justice.

In the face of real threats, your card will help show them that they aren’t alone in
their fight to protect our common home; they have a community of people in England and Wales who are all praying and standing with them.

Environmental defenders in Honduras have been illegally detained for defending the right to water and life, but community members continue to ensure local people have a voice in projects that affect their lives.  “We will not stop fighting because our struggle is just.”  Gabriela, Guapinol Water Defenders

The La Larga and Tumaradó Afro-Colombian Community Council (COCOLATU) receive threats after working hard to get their land back through documenting human rights violations.

You can use this form.

Top tips:

  • Use Google to translate short messages.
  • Be as personal as you can – it makes a big difference.

Send a Christmas message of solidarity

Schools can get involved too:

Many schools are not able to get all young  people to send messages online, so what we suggested to one school that asked, is that each student writes their message on a card, they make a display of the cards, then send photos of the display and a few key messages to youth@cafod.org.uk, telling us their school name and postcode and how many people took part.


Maisoon Badawi

“Every morning I ask myself, ‘Will I be able to help this person achieve justice?’” Maisoon Badawi

Virtual Harvest Fast Day meetings via zoom!


Coronavirus has affected us all.

We can’t get together as we normally do, so this Harvest – we have to meet “virtually” – it’s a whole new way of working together!

But this will not stop us standing alongside communities across the world to help them to survive, to rebuild and to heal. Let’s hold them in love and prayer.

CAFOD Family Fast Day is on Friday 9 October this year.

This Harvest Fast Day, for the first time, we will be asking our parishes to continue focus on the Coronavirus appeal.  We know from all the webinars and conversations we have had with our international colleagues, that the need is great and will continue to be for many months to come.

We know that parishes are struggling financially themselves. People are returning to church, but not in great numbers; due to restrictions: social-distancing, anxiety over recruiting and training stewards and cleaners, limited numbers allowed at Mass. And Mass has to be shorter than usual.

Many are unable to return at all and may not be able to do so for the forseeable future.

We know too, that in this difficult environment, the world’s poorest are not top of the list, in fact they may not even be on the list.

So to recap, the new collection date is the weekend (Saturday 10th/Sunday 11th October).

It’s been postponed by one week by the Bishops’ Conference to enable other second collections normally held while we’ve not been at Mass, to be held.

Every parish is worshipping in different ways.

We’ve all felt the impact of this terrible disease – let’s come together to help the poorest and most vulnerable people in the world to survive.  We can help people facing the worst of the Coronavirus crisis.

I have scheduled Harvest Fast Day “meetings/briefings” on zoom, as we are still not allowed to gather.  Please take a quick look at the suggested meeting times and come along – it would be great to bring you up to date with the latest initiatives and response from CAFOD and some of our new ways of working.

An hour and a half is scheduled for each meeting in case we secure an international speaker, but generally – they will take up less than one hour and you are free to leave at any time if you need to!

The dates and times are:

Friday 4 September – 11.00 am – 12.30 pm

Saturday 5 September – 11.00 am – 12.30 pm

Saturday 5 September – 6.30 pm – 8.00 pm

Tuesday 8 September – 2.30 pm – 4.00 pm

Thursday 10 September – 6.30 pm – 8.00 pm

Tuesday 15 September – 10.30 – 12.00 noon

Tuesday 22 September – 4.00 pm – 5.30 pm

Monday 28 September – 11.00 am – 12. 00 noon

Tuesday 29 September – 7.00 pm – 8.00 pm

Wednesday 30 September – 2.30 pm – 4.00 pm

Some things will look different. We will look at resources, envelopes, the poster, insert for the parish newsletter/online bulletin/website, contactless donations, text giving, prayer cards and more information on a “Global Family Food” event online between the 9-11 October.

Click the link to check the times most suitable for you. There are five separate dates, so hopefully you will be able to attend one of the time slots.

If none of these are convenient, please do get in touch with me and we can sort something out for you on an individual parish basis.

Click here to sign up for a particular date.  You will then be sent a unique link to join the secure zoom meeting.  Please do spread the word.  If some of your fellow parishioners would like to join, please get in touch and they can be given the link too.

Thank you again, for all you do and look forward to talking together “on zoom” in the near future.



Looking for a new challenge in 2021?

Why not volunteer for CAFOD in the Archdiocese of Cardiff or the Diocese of  Menevia?

CAFOD relies on a network of dedicated volunteers in parishes, universities and schools and are currently recruiting volunteers reports Therese Warwick, from CAFOD in South Wales. 

Would you like to make the world a better place in 2021? Could you volunteer for CAFOD? Not only will you gain new friends and skills, but you’ll be able to be part of a global church network, reaching out to people living in poverty and campaigning for global justice and the dignity of all. Don’t worry if this is something you’ve not tried before, CAFOD will provide support and training both on and offline.

With Lent coming up we’re currently looking for new Parish Volunteers who have the enthusiasm and skills to inform their parish community about our appeals, campaigns and prayer resources.

If you are interested in creatively working with other campaigners to inspire others to campaign in the Archdiocese of Cardiff and/or the Diocese of Menevia, we’re looking for Diocesan Campaigns Volunteer Coordinators.

With the G7 summit taking place in the UK in the summer and the the UN ‘COP26’ climate talks in Glasgow between 1-12 November 2021 is going to be a very exciting year for anyone interested in campaigning for a just world and a green recovery from the pandemic.

If you’ve got a few hours to spare each month and think that either of these opportunities might be for you why not make a cuppa and take a look at the volunteering section of our website. Or contact Therese Warwick twarwick@cafod.org.uk or call: 07823 445112 for an informal chat.


Reclaiming Our Common Home

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 says:

“Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labour.”

Ask yourself this question: ‘if two are better than one, how can we come together to make a positive impact on the world?’

Reclaim Our Common Home is CAFOD’s new campaign is a response to Pope Francis’s call for a new way of thinking about the world, and to take an active part in renewing our troubled societies by embracing the universal values of solidarity and fraternity. Sign our petition to the Prime Minister

In 2020, we experienced the worst global health crisis in a century. The coronavirus pandemic has devastated lives and shattered families in Britain and across the world, with disastrous consequences for people’s jobs and livelihoods.

The pandemic exposed many of the inadequacies of how our world currently works. It has proved that we need greater cooperation between nations, solidarity between people and a greater focus on the poorest in society.

As Catholics, we are called not to stay silent and not to be passive. This is why Reclaim Our Common Home is a call to action! It’s a call to participate both individually and collectively in rebuilding a more dignified and sustainable world after the pandemic. Click here to find out more.

If you would like to receive regular updates about CAFOD’s campaigns, appeals and other ways you can support CAFOD’s work, click here.


Press pause… and pray this week for Christian Unity (18-25 January)

This week we are celebrating a week of prayer for Christian Unity (18-25 January)

Join us on Wednesday 20th January (tomorrow) from 12.30pm-1.30pm as we come together to pray for Christian unity. 

Do join us for our joint service on Zoom  with our sister agency, Christian Aid.

Click here to enter at the time of the webinar.

The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity in 2021 has been prepared by the Monastic Community of Grandchamp in Switzerland.  The theme that was chosen, “Abide in my love and you shall bear much fruit”, is based on John 15:1-17 and expresses Grandchamp Community’s vocation to prayer, reconciliation and unity in the Church and the human family.

Today the community has fifty sisters, all women from different generations, Church traditions, countries and continents.  In their diversity the sisters are a living parable of communion.  They remain faithful to a life of prayer, life in community and the welcoming of guests.  The sisters share the grace of their monastic life with visitors and volunteers who go to Grandchamp for a time of retreat, silence, healing or in search of meaning.

For 2021, the sisters are inviting churches across the world to enter into their tradition of prayer and silence that is rooted in the ancient traditions of the Church.

Click here to enter at the time of the webinar.

I do hope wherever you are in the world, you will be able to join us for this time together, where we can experience love, solidarity, peace and strength as we move forward in 2021.


Resources – including daily reflections and an example order of service – are available for download. 

hashtag #wpcu2021



The right to clean water

Every human being should have access to clean and safe water, but unfortunately this isn’t reality for many people overseas.

If you’d like to learn how you can make a difference to those who have no access to clean water, then join in on our exclusive conversation with Lucy Jardine, Programme Officer, Peru, to hear about the impact that mining is having on the access to clean water in indigenous communities and how local communities are responding with positive signs of hope to the water crisis.

To book your place click here

“Access to clean, fresh water is a fundamental human right that must be defended, especially in poor areas where men, women and children are suffering the deadly effects of climate change.”  Pope Francis

Link to the UN Sustainable Development Goal for Water and Sanitation

Click to access 6_Why-It-Matters-2020.pdf

Lent meetings for Cardiff & Menevia parish volunteers and supporters – All welcome!

Abdella – lives in Afar in Ethiopia. He walks 10 hours a day, every day, to collect water.

It feels strange to wish you a Happy New Year as the Coronavirus pandemic continues to affect us all, with devastating consequences for some amongst us.  Our sincerest condolences to those who have lost loved ones.

With Wales and England in full lockdown, we are still unable to meet up in person as we would normally do around Family Fast Day. So once again, we will have to meet “virtually” – this whole new way of working together looks set to continue for some time….!

Thank you so much for your prayers and generous support of our Coronavirus appeal this Harvest. Thanks to you, we can continue reach out to vulnerable communities without access to clean water and health care.

We will not stop standing in solidarity with the most vulnerable communities in our global family.  We all need to survive, rebuild and heal. Let us continue to hold them and each other in love and prayer.

Lent 2021 is early this year with Ash Wednesday falling on 17 February.

CAFOD Family Fast Day this Lent is on Friday 26 February.

This CAFOD Fast Day the appeal is focussing on water or rather the lack of it!

We will be highlighting the situation of a young man, called Abdella.  He lives in Afar – in Ethiopia – and one of the hottest regions on our planet.

Abdella spends 10 hours every day walking to collect water for his family – it’s a very inhospitable, rocky and mountainous terrain.

Please do come along to one of the Lent Appeal meetings. You are more than welcome to invite fellow parishioners to join you – if you wish.

As usual, we’ll explore the resources for the Lent Appeal and tell you more about Abdella’s story. Feel free to email me here or give me a call to book your place or click on one of the dates below to indicate your preference.

We know from the conversations we have had with our international colleagues, that the need continues to be great and will continue to be for many months to come.

We appreciate totally, that many of our parishes are struggling financially themselves. Some people have been able to return to church, but in very limited numbers due to lockdown restrictions.  Unfortunately, Mass has to be shorter than usual and many of us are unable to return at all and may not be able to do so for the foreseeable future.

Sadly, we know only too well that in this difficult environment, the world’s poorest are not top of the list.  However, whether your parish is meeting physically in church or virtually via livestream, we are still strong communities of faith, hope and love.

Let’s come together to help the poorest and most vulnerable people in the world to survive.  We can help people facing the worst of the Coronavirus crisis.

Please take a quick look at the “zoom” meeting dates and times and come along. It’s important to keep in touch and join together as a community of volunteers and it’s always good to keep you up-to-date with the latest initiatives and response from CAFOD and some of our new ways of working in this pandemic.  And I really love having a chat with you all.  It’s been great to see your amazing creativity in getting CAFOD’s work and message out – we are truly indebted to you all.

If you are not comfortable with zoom, then don’t worry, please just give me a call or drop me an email and we can have a chat.  No problem at all, whatever you feel comfortable with.

An hour and a half is scheduled for each meeting in case we secure an international speaker, but generally – they will take up less than one hour and you are free to leave at any time if you need to!

The dates and times are:

Wednesday 20 January – 7 pm start   Meeting ID: 846 4775 3601  Passcode: 220672

Friday 22 January – 11.30 am  Meeting ID: 822 8437 2130 Passcode: 132213

(with Gisele Henriques, Sustainability Lead at CAFOD in the International Programmes)

Saturday 23 January – 10.30 am   Meeting ID: 832 9579 4591  Passcode: 656367

Tuesday 26 January – 3.30 pm   Meeting ID: 879 7766 7263  Passcode: 741054

Friday 29 January – 11.30 am   Meeting ID: 816 1823 5534  Passcode: 641600

Saturday 30 January – 2.30 pm   Meeting ID: 882 7906 4585  Passcode: 865360

Wednesday 3 February – 8.00 pm   Meeting ID: 816 3209 3236  Passcode: 341236

Saturday 6 February – 5.00 pm  Meeting ID: 830 4272 2238  Passcode: 621056

Friday 11 February – 11.30 am   Meeting ID: 837 6987 5237  Passcode: 567003

Some things will inevitably be rather different again.  But we’ll have a quick look at the resources, poster, insert for the parish newsletter/online bulletin/website, contactless donations, text giving, prayer cards and answer any questions about online giving/text giving which have been very well supported.

Click this link to select the date and time most convenient for you.   There are nine separate dates, so hopefully you will be able to attend one of the time slots.

If none of these are convenient, please do get in touch with me and we can sort something out for you on an individual parish basis.

Click here to sign up for a particular date on the form.  You will then be sent a unique link to join the secure zoom meeting.  Please do spread the word.  If any of fellow parishioners would like to join, please get in touch and they can be given the link too.

Thank you again, for all you do and look forward to talking together “on zoom” in the near future.



Happy New Year !

2020 has shown us how much we value and need each other. Your support during the year has been hugely appreciated. Many of you have joined one of our campaigns with us or helped us with a much-needed donation, or perhaps you have held us and those in poverty in your prayers. Whichever way you chose to support us, thank you. 2020 was a better year for many because of your support.

Did you know that we have a team of volunteers throughout England and Wales who are vital to our work? They’re a huge team of people who raise awareness of our work in parishes, schools and on social media. Many help us support other volunteers, or with office and communications work Some help spread the word wider by working with media outlets. Many have specific skills they bring to our mission while others have skills they want to learn and hone to as they develop their own potential. We provide support and training for any role you take on.

Would you be willing to join our team of volunteers and make the world a better place in 2021? Could you volunteer with CAFOD? Not only will you gain new friends and skills, but you’ll be a part of our life-saving work. Can you help us reach more people who are struggling with poverty?

Would you like to volunteer in your local parish, or in schools? Could you spread the word to your friends and beyond or help us support our amazing volunteers? Your resolution will help ensure everyone can one day live with dignity.

We have a whole range of volunteering opportunities available. It doesn’t matter how much time you can contribute – what matters that you do it.

Are you interested? Would you like to chat over the possibilities?

Email us here or call us on 07823 445112 – we’re in the office from 09.30 on Monday 4th January 2021. Fired up and ready to go!

“Strengthen us, Lord, and keep us steadfast.

Bring healing and comfort to all and lead us renewed into your marvellous light.

We ask this through Christ our Lord.  Amen.”

Message of Pope Francis for the celebration of the 54th World Day of Peace – 1 January 2021 – A culture of care as a path to peace


1. At the dawn of a new year, I extend cordial greetings to Heads of State and Government, leaders of International Organizations, spiritual leaders and followers of the different religions, and to men and women of good will. To all I offer my best wishes that the coming year will enable humanity to advance on the path of fraternity, justice and peace between individuals, communities, peoples and nations.

The year 2020 was marked by the massive Covid-19 health crisis, which became a global phenomenon cutting across boundaries, aggravating deeply interrelated crises like those of the climate, food, the economy and migration, and causing great suffering and hardship. I think especially of all those who lost family members or loved ones, and all who lost their jobs. I think too of physicians and nurses, pharmacists, researchers, volunteers, chaplains and the personnel of hospitals and healthcare centres. They have made, and are continuing to make, great sacrifices to be present to the sick, to alleviate their sufferings and to save their lives; indeed, many of them have died in the process. In paying tribute to them, I renew my appeal to political leaders and the private sector to spare no effort to ensure access to Covid-19 vaccines and to the essential technologies needed to care for the sick, the poor and those who are most vulnerable.[1]

Sad to say, alongside all these testimonies of love and solidarity, we have also seen a surge in various forms of nationalism, racism and xenophobia, and wars and conflicts that bring only death and destruction in their wake.

These and other events that marked humanity’s path this past year have taught us how important it is to care for one another and for creation in our efforts to build a more fraternal society. That is why I have chosen as the title of this year’s Message, A Culture of Care as a Path to Peace. A culture of care as a way to combat the culture of indifference, waste and confrontation so prevalent in our time.

2. God the Creator, the source of our human vocation to care

Many religious traditions have accounts of the origin of human beings and their relationship with the Creator, with nature and with their fellow men and women. In the Bible, the Book of Genesis shows from its very first pages the importance of care or protection in God’s plan for humanity. It highlights the relationship between man (’adam) and the earth (’adamah), and among ourselves as brothers and sisters. In the biblical account of creation, God entrusts the garden “planted in Eden” (cf. Gen 2:8) to Adam’s care, to “till it and keep it” (Gen 2:15). This entails making the earth productive, while at the same time protecting it and preserving its capacity to support life.[2] The verbs “till” and “keep” describe Adam’s relationship to his garden home, but also the trust God placed in him by making him master and guardian of all creation.

The birth of Cain and Abel begins a history of brothers and sisters, whose relationship is understood – even by Cain, however mistakenly – in terms of protection or “keeping”. After killing his brother Abel, Cain answers God’s question by saying: “Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Gen 4:9).[3] Cain, like all of us, was called to be “his brother’s keeper”. “These ancient stories, full of symbolism, bear witness to a conviction which we today share, that everything is interconnected, and that genuine care for our own lives and our relationship with nature is inseparable from fraternity, justice and faithfulness to others”.[4]

3. God the Creator, a model of care

Sacred Scripture presents God not only as Creator, but also as one who cares for his creatures, especially Adam, Eve and their offspring. Albeit cursed for the crime he committed, Cain was given a mark of protection by the Creator, so that his life could be spared (cf. Gen 4:15). While confirming the inviolable dignity of the person created in God’s image and likeness, this was also a sign of God’s plan to preserve the harmony of his creation, since “peace and violence cannot dwell together”.[5]

Care for creation was at the heart of the institution of the Sabbath, which, in addition to ordering divine worship, aimed at the restoration of the social order and concern for the poor (cf. Gen 1:1-3; Lev 25:4). The celebration of the Jubilee every seventh sabbatical year provided a respite for the land, for slaves and for those in debt. In that year of grace, those in greatest need were cared for and given a new chance in life, so that there would be no poor among the people (cf. Deut 15:4).

In the prophetic tradition, the biblical understanding of justice found its highest expression in the way a community treats its weakest members. Amos (cf. 2:6-8; 8) and Isaiah (cf. 58), in particular, insistently demand justice for the poor, who, in their vulnerability and powerlessness, cry out and are heard by God, who watches over them (cf. Ps 34:7; 113:7-8).

4. Care in the ministry of Jesus

Jesus’ life and ministry represent the supreme revelation of the Father’s love for humanity (cf. Jn 3:16). In the synagogue at Nazareth, Jesus showed himself to be the one consecrated by the Lord and “sent to preach good news to the poor, to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed” (Lk 4:18). These messianic actions, associated with the Jubilee year, bear eloquent witness to the mission he received from the Father. In his compassion, Christ drew near to the sick in body and spirit, and brought them healing; he pardoned sinners and gave them new life. Jesus is the Good Shepherd who cares for his sheep (cf. Jn 10:11-18; Ezek 34:1-31). He is the Good Samaritan who stoops to help the injured man, binds his wounds and cares for him (cf. Lk 10:30-37).

At the culmination of his mission, Jesus gave the ultimate proof of his care for us by offering himself on the cross to set us free from the slavery of sin and death. By the sacrificial gift of his life, he opened for us the path of love. To each of us he says, “Follow me; go and do likewise” (cf. Lk 10:37).

5. A culture of care in the life of Jesus’ followers

The spiritual and corporal works of mercy were at the heart of charity as practised by the early Church. The first generation of Christians shared what they had, so that no one among them would be in need (cf. Acts 4:34-35). They strove to make their community a welcoming home, concerned for every human need and ready to care for those most in need. It became customary to make voluntary offerings in order to feed the poor, bury the dead and care for orphans, the elderly and victims of disasters like shipwrecks. In later times, when the generosity of Christians had lost its initial fervour, some Fathers of the Church insisted that property was meant by God for the common good. For Saint Ambrose, “nature poured out all things for the common use of all… and thus produced a common right for all, but greed has made it a right for only a few”.[6] After the persecutions of the first centuries, the Church used her newfound freedom to inspire society and its culture. “The needs of the times called forth new efforts in the service of Christian charity. History records innumerable examples of practical works of mercy… The Church’s work among the poor was to a great extent highly organized. There arose many institutions for the relief of every human need: hospitals, poor houses, orphanages, foundling homes, shelters for travelers …”[7]

6. The principles of the Church’s social doctrine as the basis for a culture of care

The diakonia of the Church’s origins, enriched by the reflection of the Fathers and enlivened over the centuries by the active charity of many luminous witnesses to the faith, became the beating heart of the Church’s social doctrine. This doctrine is offered to all people of good will as a precious patrimony of principles, criteria and proposals that can serve as a “grammar” of care: commitment to promoting the dignity of each human person, solidarity with the poor and vulnerable, the pursuit of the common good and concern for protection of creation.

Care as promotion of the dignity and rights of each person

“The very concept of the person, which originated and developed in Christianity, fosters the pursuit of a fully human development. Person always signifies relationship, not individualism; it affirms inclusion, not exclusion, unique and inviolable dignity, not exploitation”.[8] Each human person is an end in himself or herself, and never simply a means to be valued only for his or her usefulness. Persons are created to live together in families, communities and societies, where all are equal in dignity. Human rights derive from this dignity, as do human duties, like the responsibility to welcome and assist the poor, the sick, the excluded, every one of our “neighbours, near or far in space and time”.[9]

Care for the common good

Every aspect of social, political and economic life achieves its fullest end when placed at the service of the common good, in other words, “the sum total of social conditions which allow people, either as groups or as individuals, to reach their fulfilment more fully and more easily”.[10] Consequently, our plans and projects should always take into account their effects on the entire human family, and consider their consequences for the present and for coming generations. The Covid-19 pandemic has shown us the truth and timeliness of this fact. In the face of the pandemic, “we have realized that we are in the same boat, all of us fragile and disoriented, but at the same time important and needed, all of us called to row together”,[11] since “no one reaches salvation by themselves”[12] and no state can ensure the common good of its population if it remains isolated.[13]

Care through solidarity

Solidarity concretely expresses our love for others, not as a vague sentiment but as a “firm and persevering determination to commit oneself to the common good; that is to say to the good of all and of each individual, because we are all really responsible for all”.[14] Solidarity helps us to regard others – whether as individuals or, more broadly, as peoples or nations – as more than mere statistics, or as a means to be used and then discarded once no longer useful, but as our neighbours, companions on our journey, called like ourselves to partake of the banquet of life to which all are equally invited by God.

Care and protection of creation

The Encyclical Laudato Si’ is fully aware that all creation is interconnected. It also highlights our need to listen to the cry of the poor and, at the same time, to the cry of creation. Constant and attentive listening leads in turn to effective care for the earth, our common home, and for our brothers and sisters in need. Here I would once again point out that “a sense of deep communion with the rest of nature cannot be authentic if our hearts lack tenderness, compassion and concern for our fellow human beings”.[15] “Peace, justice and care for creation are three inherently connected questions, which cannot be separated in such a way as to be treated individually, lest we fall back into reductionism”.[16]

7. A compass pointing to a common path

At a time dominated by a culture of waste, faced with growing inequalities both within and between nations,[17] I urge government leaders and those of international organizations, business leaders, scientists, communicators and educators, to take up these principles as a “compass” capable of pointing out a common direction and ensuring “a more humane future”[18] in the process of globalization. This will enable us to esteem the value and dignity of every person, to act together in solidarity for the common good, and to bring relief to those suffering from poverty, disease, slavery, armed conflicts, and discrimination. I ask everyone to take this compass in hand and to become a prophetic witness of the culture of care, working to overcome the many existing social inequalities. This can only come about through a widespread and meaningful involvement on the part of women, in the family and in every social, political and institutional sphere.

The compass of these social principles, so essential for the growth of a culture of care, also points to the need for relationships between nations to be inspired by fraternity, mutual respect, solidarity and the observance of international law. In this regard, we must recognize the need to defend and promote fundamental human rights, which are inalienable, universal and indivisible.[19]

Likewise urgent is the need to respect humanitarian law, especially at this time when conflicts and wars continue uninterrupted. Tragically, many regions and communities can no longer remember a time when they dwelt in security and peace. Numerous cities have become epicentres of insecurity: citizens struggle to maintain their normal routine in the face of indiscriminate attacks by explosives, artillery and small arms. Children are unable to study. Men and women cannot work to support their families. Famine is spreading in places where it was previously unknown. People are being forced to take flight, leaving behind not only their homes but also their family history and their cultural roots.

While such conflicts have many causes, the result is always the same: destruction and humanitarian crises. We need to stop and ask ourselves what has led our world to see conflict as something normal, and how our hearts can be converted and our ways of thinking changed, in order to work for true peace in solidarity and fraternity.

How many resources are spent on weaponry, especially nuclear weapons,[20] that could be used for more significant priorities such as ensuring the safety of individuals, the promotion of peace and integral human development, the fight against poverty, and the provision of health care. Global problems like the present Covid-19 pandemic and climate change have only made these challenges all the more evident. What a courageous decision it would be to “establish a ‘Global Fund’ with the money spent on weapons and other military expenditures, in order to permanently eliminate hunger and contribute to the development of the poorest countries”![21]

8. Educating for a culture of care

Promoting a culture of care calls for a process of education. The “compass” of social principles can prove useful and reliable in a variety of interrelated contexts. Let me offer a few examples:

– Educating people to care begins in the family, the natural and fundamental nucleus of society, in which we learn how to live and relate to others in a spirit of mutual respect. Yet families need to be empowered to carry out this vital and indispensable task.

– Together with the family, schools and universities – and, in some respects, the communications media – are also responsible for education.[22] They are called to pass on a system of values based on the recognition of the dignity of each person, each linguistic, ethnic and religious community and each people, as well as the fundamental rights arising from that recognition. Education is one of the pillars of a more just and fraternal society.

– Religions in general, and religious leaders in particular, can play an indispensable role in handing on to their followers, and to society at large, the values of solidarity, respect for differences, and concern for our brothers and sisters in need. Here I think of the words spoken in 1969 by Pope Paul VI to the Ugandan Parliament: “Have no fear of the Church; she honours you, she educates honest and loyal citizens for you, she does not foment rivalries and divisions, she seeks to promote healthy liberty, social justice, and peace. If she has any preference at all, it is for the poor, for the education of little ones and of the people, for the care of the suffering and abandoned”.[23]

– Once more I encourage all those engaged in public service and in international organizations, both governmental and non-governmental, and all those others who in various ways are involved in the areas of education and research, to work towards the goal of a “more open and inclusive education, involving patient listening, constructive dialogue and better mutual understanding”.[24] It is my hope that this appeal, made in the context of the Global Compact on Education, will be broadly acknowledged and accepted.

9. There can be no peace without a culture of care

The culture of care thus calls for a common, supportive and inclusive commitment to protecting and promoting the dignity and good of all, a willingness to show care and compassion, to work for reconciliation and healing, and to advance mutual respect and acceptance. As such, it represents a privileged path to peace. “In many parts of the world, there is a need for paths of peace to heal open wounds. There is also a need for peacemakers, men and women prepared to work boldly and creatively to initiate processes of healing and renewed encounter”.[25]

At a time like this, when the barque of humanity, tossed by the storm of the current crisis, struggles to advance towards a calmer and more serene horizon, the “rudder” of human dignity and the “compass” of fundamental social principles can enable us together to steer a sure course. As Christians, we should always look to Our Lady, Star of the Sea and Mother of Hope. May we work together to advance towards a new horizon of love and peace, of fraternity and solidarity, of mutual support and acceptance. May we never yield to the temptation to disregard others, especially those in greatest need, and to look the other way;[26] instead, may we strive daily, in concrete and practical ways, “to form a community composed of brothers and sisters who accept and care for one another”.[27]

From the Vatican, 8 December 2020

This week’s online events: Advent Mass, CAFOD Carol Service, Journey to the Manger & Christmas Eve Children’s Liturgy. Come and hear about all the great work that you support!

Listen to inspiring talks online about the great work you support, all from your own living room!

Upcoming talks

Advent Mass online

Wednesday 16 December, 6pm-7pm

You are invited to join us to celebrate the coming of Christ at Christmas with a special Mass streamed live online. This Advent, as we continue to experience the terrible impact of the coronavirus pandemic, we will come together in solidarity and prayer.  We will bring together our prayers, from and for our communities and partners and our families and friends across the world, into the presence of our loving God.

Register to join us.

CAFOD Carol Service – St John Rigby College

Thursday 17 December, 7:30pm-9pm – The CAFOD Carol Service online!

This year the annual CAFOD Carol Service is going virtual! Join us for carols on Thursday 17 December, from 7:30pm-9pm.

Every year St John Rigby College, partner schools and the community are involved in the CAFOD Carol Service at St Teresa’s Church, Up Holland. Coronavirus means that we have not been able to do this in person, but we refuse to give up… this year, we are going virtual!

We are proud to share the gifts and talents of students, pupils and the community in our CAFOD Carol Service 2020 where we will also hear from a guest speaker about the work completed in South America.

Join us and join in with the CAFOD Carol Service 2020.

CAFOD works with local partners and communities across the world – responding to emergencies, promoting long-term development and raising public awareness of the causes of poverty. We work with people of all faiths and none for a safe, sustainable and peaceful world.

Click here to watch our CAFOD Carol Service promo

Register to join us.

CAFOD Advent Prayer – A Journey To The Manger

Every Sunday from 29 November to 6 January, 6pm-6:30pm

Join us for some simple and peaceful prayer and reflection as we share our journey of Advent together. We will gather around a candle and be gently led in a time of prayer. No need for a computer camera or microphone or worrying about what to say. Just register then click the link on Sundays through Advent and on Epiphany, the 6th of January. The prayer will start at 6pm and run for less than half an hour. All are welcome to join us on this journey.

And don’t forget our online Children’s Liturgy continues every Sunday morning at 10 am.  Register for the series.

This year we will also be offering a pre-recorded Christmas children’s liturgy.

This will premiere at 3 pm on Christmas Eve, with the recording available afterwards.

Missed the last session? Watch the recording here. 

Click here to catch up on all our past online talks

The challenge of Coronavirus in the Democratic Republic of Congo – Thursday 10 December at 11 am

Women from Centre Olame make masks to respond to the coronavirus outbreak.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo is still recovering from years of devastating civil war, which killed almost four million people.

Imagine living in a country where everything is imported from outside, and now, there is nothing coming in, where the markets need to open every day so people can survive and where you need to pay for your healthcare in cash.

Join us to hear more about the challenge of coronavirus in the Democratic Republic of Congo

In the DRC the infrastructure has been broken down for many, many years so people have relied on Church infrastructures for a long time. In the areas controlled by rebels, we are getting reports from our Church partners that people are suffering, many of whom live in areas that are hard to access .

However, there is good news, the Church is very well organised and our Church partners are there and can reach many people. There is an understanding that we as humanitarian workers, especially we as a Church institution, have the prior experience in tackling Ebola and can bring this experience to the coronavirus pandemic.

We have repurposed some of the funding we had for long-term development to put into the coronavirus response and we are supplying food to close to 2,000 households in six communities in Kinshasa. And we plan to extend this project to further communes.

To learn more about how coronavirus is affecting some communities in the DRC join our exclusive dialogue with Bernard Balibuno, Country Representative for CAFOD in DRC, and John Birchenough, Head of Humanitarian Programmes in Africa on Thursday 10 Dec 11 am-middayRegister to join us.

If you would like to donate to the coronavirus appeal click HERE.

Please note, the mask making activity is not funded by CAFOD, although Centre Olame is a long-standing CAFOD partner.

The members of this microcredit group in Goma have had their income badly affected by the coronavirus outbreak and are claiming funds to help them through the coming months. Through Caritas Goma, CAFOD has been supporting vulnerable women to form saving and loans groups to establish their own small businesses. This includes selling food such as potatoes, maize flour and beans, as well as cooking charcoal and spices, household items and clothes. Many of the women this project will reach have been displaced or have lost their husbands or children due to ongoing conflict. The women are unable to access loans from banks and face extreme poverty. COVID-19 has paralysed health, economic and social activities of all the Congolese people. In Goma and its surrounding areas, people have been struggling to cope, especially in the food industry. Most of the microcredit group members were involved in selling local food products. With borders closed, an unstable exchange rate and the cost of products soaring, the group of small traders aren’t able to make a profit. Small traders were buying one bag of white onions (around 100 kg) for $30 before COVID-19. Now the same bag of onions costs $65 to $70.

The countdown has begun!

🗓 This week we hold our national assembly ‘Light of the World’ connecting thousands of students across the country.  Join us this Thursday – 10 December!

Our assembly is a fantastic opportunity to:

🤝 unify your whole school community this Advent, including students self-isolating at home

🌎 meet people around the world who have spread light and hope this year

🕯 reflect on what it what it means to share the light of Jesus to help make Christmas special for everyone

The primary assembly starts at 9.30am and the secondary assembly follows at 10am.

Find out more on how you can be part of this community event.