16 August 2019, The Tablet

News Briefing: Britain and Ireland

We need to think about what we eat and where our food comes from, says Cafod

News Briefing: Britain and Ireland

Female goats in a milking room of the DAK farming enterprise in the village of Tyavlovo, Belarus
Natalia Fedosenko/Tass/PA Images

Cafod has urged Catholics to think about what they eat and where it comes from after the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned in a new report that global heating, greenhouse gas emissions and deforestation threatened the Earth’s ability to sustain human life. More people could be fed more sustainably if the West ate less meat and dairy produce, the report found. Graham Gordon, Cafod’s head of policy, called the report “a wake-up call” that should lead to urgent action. “For the UK government, that includes shifting aid money away from big agricultural companies and instead directly supporting farmers in the poorest communities,” he said. “For us as consumers, the report is a chance for us to think about what we eat and where our food comes from, and how this can be a way we can help to care for our common home.” Cafod also welcomed news that Glasgow was likely to host the UN climate conference in 2020, called COP26. Dr Daniel Hale, head of campaigns, said: “Hosting this conference would give the UK the chance to set the tone for how the next century will turn out.”

The Irish Church aid agency Trócaire’s overall income fell by 8 per cent last year from €75 million to €69m (£70m to £64m) despite one of the best Christmas fundraising campaigns in the agency’s history. Public donations totalled €23.2m of which the Lenten campaign generated €7.6m, while €2.3m was raised during the 2018 Christmas appeal, as people responded to the conflicts in Yemen and South Sudan. “This was one of our strongest Christmas campaigns in our history and reflects an increase of almost 10 per cent on 2017,” a statement from Trócaire said.

The Bishop of Shrewsbury, Mark Davies, warned against the encroaching darkness of secular ideologies in a homily for the New Dawn Conference at Walsingham. Bishop Davies said that “dark shadows” were lengthening in British society because it had forgotten its Christian foundations. “This forgetfulness allows new ideological agendas to become the driving force of what is called ‘human progress’. Yet in reality it is the active discarding of the Christian moral inheritance whether in a radical assault upon the sanctity of human life or marriage itself as the foundation of the family; or upon human identity as it comes from the hand of the Creator,” he said. However, he also predicted that these shadows would “give way to the light of dawn”. “This present time, marked by distress and the trial of evil, which does not spare the Church, is also the moment of the Spirit and of our witness, a time of waiting and watchfulness in prayer,” he said.

More than 50 people gathered in the crypt of Westminster Cathedral last week to mark the thirtieth anniversary of the death of Blessed Franz Jägerstätter, a conscientious objector and martyr who was executed in Berlin on 9 August 1943 for refusing to serve in the Nazi German army. The annual service also remembered the victims of the atomic bomb that was dropped on the Japanese city of Nagasaki in 1945, killing at least 74,000 people.

An academic researcher’s call for educational initiatives on pornography for school children has been criticised by the Iona Institute, a Catholic think tank based in Ireland. Kate Dawson, a PhD researcher at NUI Galway, wrote a blog for the website of news service RTE in which she outlined her views as to why “porn literacy” should be included in the sex education curriculum of school children, so that they were equipped to critique sexual representations in the media. A spokesperson for the Iona Institute told the Irish Catholic newspaper: “Wanting to teach pupils about the negative aspects of porn is one thing but pretending to them that there is a positive side to an industry that is inherently exploitative is another thing entirely. Parents need to know what some influential figures in the sex education debate want their children to be taught and to fight back when necessary.”

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