01 November 2021, The Tablet

News Briefing: Britain and Ireland

News Briefing: Britain and Ireland

Conservative MP Kemi Badenoch has been appointed to a portfolio encompassing “faith engagement”.
Russell Hart/Alamy Live News

Funeral plans have been announced for Sir David Amess, the Southend West MP murdered last month. Cardinal Vincent Nichols will celebrate the funeral mass for the Conservative MP at Westminster Cathedral, the mother church of the Westminister Diocese, on 23 November 2021. Sir David, a devout Catholic and campaigner for pro-life issues, received tributes from across politics and beyond after he was stabbed to death at his 15 October constiuency surgery in Essex.

Conservative MP Kemi Badenoch, who has represented Saffron Walden in the House of Commons since 2017 and describes herself as an “honorary Catholic”, has been appointed to a portfolio encompassing “faith engagement”. She was appointed Minister of State at the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities on 16 September 2021. Her ministerial portfolio includes, according to her official government profile, “faith engagement”, a role likely to involve oversight of initiatives like the “Faith New Deal Pilot Fund”. Badenoch, a 41-year-old mother of three, described herself in 2017 as an “honorary or associated Catholic”, citing her marriage to a Catholic, and the Catholic baptism of all of her children. Born in Wimbledon to Nigerian parents, Badenoch spent much of her childhood in Nigeria, returning to Britain at the age of 16, eventually pursuing a career in financial services.

An international interfaith petition “Healthy People, Healthy Planet” was handed over to COP26 on Tuesday during an Inter-faith event at St George’s Tron Church in Glasgow. Lorna Gold of the Laudato Si Movement handed over more than 115,000 petition signatures and 432 partners had signed. COP26 President Alok Sharma sent a video to acknowledge receiving the petition. The petition has been an initiative of the Laudato Si Movement to promote the implementation of the Pope's encyclical of 2015. A key call was to recognise human-induced climate change and biodiversity as part of one and the same crisis and implement solutions to climate change based on locally-led ecosystem preservation and restoration and protection of biodiversity. An accompanying letter addressed to COP26 participants highlighted demands that Pope Francis has put forward. “It is our responsibility as Catholics to lift up the voices of the most vulnerable and advocate on their behalf,” said the letter. Thursday was to see a petition to COP26 from peace groups, including Pax Christi England and Wales, demanding that militaries be included in any new climate agreement. Meeting at Glasgow’s Buchanan steps, the groups said that modern militaries are dependent on fossil fuels with no sign of realistic or practical net-zero plans. The petition called for COP26 to set up an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) task force, examining the links between the global military and climate change. It called for the military to compulsorily report their emissions in full and for governments to include their militaries in greenhouse gas reduction plans. The peace groups see climate change as the world’s biggest collective threat, with no military solution.

Franciscans carrying the banner “There is no Planet B” were among the religious orders attending the COP26 Faith Vigil last Sunday. The Franciscan contribution to the COP26 agenda was highlighted in a zoom meeting on Monday, titled, “Defending a Healthy Planet”. Franciscan Brother Angel Cortez, who joined the prayer vigil, said he came to Scotland to bring the voices of his fellow Filipinos, who in the midst of the pandemic last year were struck by three major typhoons in three weeks. “That’s the most important thing, that world leaders are here but we need to listen to the people who are really affected by climate change,” he said. Columban Sister Kate Midgley attended the vigils in Glasgow this week of Christian Climate Action alongside Catholic laity who walked the whole Camino to COP. Carmelites in Glasgow have organised regular prayers for the success of the summit. Ecojesuits has organised an online “Faith at the Climate Frontiers: Consequences for Oceania and Asia” event for 8 November at Glasgow’s Ignatian Spirituality Centre.

24 Hours for the Climate” is a global vigil for Catholics and people of faith to pray and advocate for the success of COP26. From 11am on 5 November to 11am 6 November the invitation has gone out to join this live broadcast to learn from communities suffering from climate change, pray for the future of our common home, and write messages that will be delivered to COP26 negotiators. The vigil will be streamed online from a Glasgow parish. Among the organisers are the Missionary Society of St Columban, Justice and Peace Scotland, Cafod, Sciaf, Pax Christi International, Jesuit Missions, Don Bosco Green Alliance and Religious of the Assumption. Video material will be presented from their partners internationally and in the UK, ranging from EcoJesuits in the Philippines to the Laudato Si Movement in the Philippines, to “Climate Dialogues” produced by Sciaf in Scotland. Eco-theologian Fr Sean McDonagh will give a reflection. Live events in the parish will include Mass at 9am on Saturday morning, celebrated by Bishop William Nolan, President of Scotland Justice and Peace. The vigil will conclude with a setting off for the climate march in Glasgow for the international Day of Action on the Climate on Saturday 6 November. The faith block will include at least 50 young people who have travelled to Glasgow with Cafod and the Columbans. A similar march will be held in London and in other cities in the UK and around the world.

Ireland must step up its climate change commitments and pay its fair share of the devastating costs of climate change, Trócaire has said. In a policy document issued as the COP26 Climate Change Summit takes place in Glasgow, the overseas development agency noted that while Ireland’s recently published Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Bill sets out a target of reducing emissions by 51 per cent by 2030, the country remains the second highest emitters per capita in the EU. By comparison to Ireland the EU has set a target of reducing emissions by at least 55 per cent by 2030. Trócaire said it was unacceptable that the gap between Ireland and its neighbours is widening at a time when Ireland needs to be catching up as fast as possible. “COP26 cannot merely be a ‘talking shop’. The international community must seize the historic opportunity to agree crucial decisions to put the world on track to deliver on climate action,” Trócaire chief executive Caoimhe de Barra, said. “We support communities to pick up the pieces when climate-related disasters strike. However, the ability of people to bounce back is being severely eroded. There is a limit to what the poorest people can be expected to adapt to. This is a matter of global justice.” Trócaire has said COP26 must establish a new financing facility for loss and damage, specifically to support low-income countries.

A new report has emphasised the important economic contribution made by the Holy Land’s Christian communities, even as their future remains under “grave threat”. A combination of philanthropic resources and other investments, especially in “humanitarian” fields like education and health brings the total benefit to the region’s economy to $3 billion. Launched in Westminister Abbey, Defeating Minority Exclusion and Unlocking Potential: Christianity in the Holy Land, represents the latest initiative by the International Community of the Holy Sepulchre to provide practical assistance to Christians living in Israel, Palestine and Jordan. Amongst the report’s suggestions are the creation of “hi-tech start-up hubs” to encourage and coordinate international investment amongst Christians living in the Holy Land. 




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