Why is everyone talking about the Department for International Development (DfID)?

In 2017, CAFOD supporters spoke to MPs

Last week, the government announced that it was planning to merge the Department for International development and the Foreign Office.

Faith charities and international development aid agencies alike were saddened by the decision, calling it ‘seriously misguided’.

CAFOD’s Director, Christine Allen, said:

“Our support for our brothers and sisters living in poverty shouldn’t be contingent on what we as Britain can get out of it – we must have a clear distinction between our aid budget and money spent on British interests.

“Increasingly issues such as climate change, the destruction of nature, and the spread of Covid-19 demonstrate unequivocally that global issues can only be tackled through increased global cooperation, and that progress can be reversed through retreating into approaches based on national interest.”

CAFOD joined forced with other leading faith charities across the country to put out a statement, which you can read here.

Christine wrote to The Daily Telegraph letter’s section, writing:

“As UK Aid is spent by more and more departments, the UK government must commit to the highest levels of transparency across the whole portfolio.

“We need to see a levelling up, not a levelling down, in the accountability of UK aid.”

The full letter is published here.

We also heard from our international partners, concerned by the decision, including the Reverend George Cosmos Zumaire Lungu of the Diocese of Chipata, in Zambia, wrote to the Prime Minister about the decision.

Dennis, 17, on his grandmother’s farmland in Mbala, Zambia

We will make sure to keep you updated as the situation develops, and you can keep up to date on the latest developments by following our social media channels : Facebook and Twitter 

Now is not the time to build barriers, but for the world to unite in love and compassion.

We need a global response to this global pandemic

People pray before Mass at a church service in the DRC. (celebrated by Abbé Michel Kabongenaje, who frequently preaches about the dangers of Ebola)

As we cope with lockdown, the coronavirus pandemic is changing all our lives.

For some of us it has been devastating, losing loved ones or desperately worrying about those who are vulnerable.

All of us feel the day-to-day impact, some facing financial hardship or working in a front-line role at greater risk.

But as people of faith, we also think of, and pray for, our sisters and brothers in developing countries who are facing this pandemic with fragile health systems:  some of which have almost no intensive care beds or ventilators.

Food prices have already risen with borders closing, the poorest are losing their jobs and income with wholesale shutdowns.

Furthermore, inadequate healthcare, lack of access to basic washing facilities and limited ability for social distancing inevitably increases the risk of contracting the disease on an incalculable scale.

Coronavirus is laying bare the inequalities that exist in our society, and for countries with health systems much more fragile than our own, the effects are likely to be even more devastating..

Despite being asked to stay at home we can still do something about this crisis.

We can use our voices here in the UK to ask our government to take practical, concrete actions to assist developing countries in the Coronavirus response.

We are all in this together, one global family. And as Pope Francis reminds us:

“We need to strengthen the conviction that we are one single human family. There are no frontiers or barriers, political or social, behind which we can hide, still less is there room for the globalization of indifference” LS #52

Please will you sign the CAFOD petition to ask our government to work with other world leaders to help the most vulnerable people in our world to cope with this crisis?

To sign the petition online visit cafod.org.uk/coronaviruscampaign

What is the petition asking?  

It’s asking our Prime Minister to work with other world leaders to:

  •  Make sure that any vaccine developed with UK public money is made available to everyone regardless of income or where in the world they live.
  •  Provide urgent financial and technical support to help developing countries cope with this crisis.
  • Cancel all debt payments by developing countries due in 2020 so that countries can spend money on much needed healthcare rather than debt repayments.
  • Put plans in place to rebuild a fairer, more just society after the crisis so that the world’s most vulnerable people can live in dignity and to restore our common home for future generations.

 Please sign this petition to our Prime Minister today.  And please, please can we ask you to share it with your parish, your family and friends and your wider social network, if you can.

 

Even though we are no longer meeting face-to-face in parishes, there are new ways of connecting online, whether that is through parish websites, bulletins, emails or social media. 

We are in the midst of a public health challenge here in the UK, but sadly experience tells us that it will be far worse in the developing world, which is why we launched an EMERGENCY APPEAL two weeks ago.

We need a global response to this global problem and CAFOD is responding quickly. Our local experts are already in these communities helping those in need, preventing the spread of the virus and protecting lives.

We are providing personal protective equipment (PPE) for doctors and nurses at this Catholic Health Clinic and Maternity Unit in Kailahun District, Sierra Leone:

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CREATION CELEBRATION MASS AT ST HELEN’S CAERPHILLY – Monday 2 September at 12 noon

All are invited to come to a Creation Celebration Mass at St Helen’s RC Church, Caerphilly on Monday 2 September at 12 noon.

Mass will be outside on the lawn (weather permitting) or in the hall.

Mass will be followed by a bring-and-share picnic.

Join us to give special thanks for the gift of creation
and to pray for our common home.

Let us know you are attending by registering your interest for this free event at Eventbrite.

God has entrusted the care of Creation to us.

Pope Francis, in Laudato Si‘ describes how our beautiful planet has been despoiled and exploited for profit. We all need to value Creation.

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St David’s Priory in Swansea stepped up for Share the Journey

“Hope is what drives the hearts of those who depart,” said Pope Francis on 27 September last year as he opened the Caritas/CAFOD Share the Journey campaign on migration.

 

The Holy Father gave an emotional endorsement for the need to build relationships between migrants, refugees and local communities; saying:

 “It is also what drives the hearts of those who welcome; the desire to meet each other, get to know each other, to dialogue.”

Stuart reading one of the refugee stories

These are the exact sentiments which prompted parishioners, lead by long-standing volunteer, Stuart Harper, from St David’s Priory Church in the centre of Swansea to reach out and organise their own Share the Journey walk and to try to make a positive difference to everyone with experience of migration.

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First Share the Journey walk in Herefordshire

War, persecution, natural disasters and poverty force millions of people from their homes.

Most come from poor countries and seek safety in other poor countries nearby.

Dispelling myths about refugees and migrants is something we can all help with.

And this was how parishioners from St Frances of Rome church in the beautiful market town of Ross-on-Wye in Herefordshire responded to Pope Francis’ call to welcome refugees and migrants with open arms.

Altar servers, twin brothers, Tom & Gerry

The liveSimply group in the parish organised a Share the Journey walk around the buggy route in the town, to coincide with the end of Refugee Week.

Before setting off, parish priest, Father Nicholas James, blessed the entire congregation as well as the group of walkers.

At the end of their journey, the group had totted up 40 miles which has been added to CAFOD’s online totaliser for Share the Journey.

It is a shocking fact that at the end of last year, 68.5 million people were displaced around the world due to persecution, conflict or violence.

Few us can even imagine being at home and suddenly have to escape with our family and leave absolutely everything we own behind.

We can try to imagine setting off on a long journey to find a new home.  Not knowing how long we will be walking, when we will next eat or where we can rest.

Alone and afraid, there is now doubt that we would welcome someone to reach and talk to us, to share the journey with us.

But this was just like Dilda’s journey.  She fled from Myanmar to escape violence in her village.

She says: “We didn’t bring a thing.  We just grabbed the children and ran.”

Dilda left everything behind.  Her home, her possessions, everything – for a temporary shelter on the side of the road.

Her children are scarred by what they have seen.

We cannot cross by on the other side while our neighbours are struggling.

The church has been at the forefront of reaching out to refugees and migrants but so far our world leaders are not meeting the challenge.

Alongside Catholics around the world, we are asking them to step up.

Parishes, schools around the country can help to send a powerful message to world leader who are drawing up new global agreements at the UN in September and December this year.

How?  By sharing the journey.  By joining us on a walk.  Not just any walk, but a walk around the world.

The target was 24,900 miles – the distance around the whole world.

But we’ve achieved that already!!

We are walking around the world a second time…

CAFOD will  use the #sharethejourney walks and card signings in parishes and schools to demonstrate our solidarity with people on the move to our Prime Minister, Theresa May, to our local MPs and the government.

We hope to influence the UN so that the new agreements will respect human dignity; protect the vulnerable; support host countries; keep families together and tacked the reasons why people migrate.

Please consider signing the online petition today to ask the UN to agree compassionate agreements which respect human dignity of all people.

If you would like to know more about organising a walk in your parish or school, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us and we’d be delighted to support you.  You can order action cards here.

Loving God, You walk with those searching for a better life.  May we work together to share the journey and offer everyone a loving welcome. Amen.