Ciara, our 2022-2023 CAFOD intern shares an account of her recent ‘pilgrimage to parliament’ as part of CAFOD’s ‘No Faith in fossil Fuels’ campaign…
As part of the internship, we spend our Fridays engaging in a variety of enrichment activities. These can include meetings with MPs or theologians or visiting organisations that put Catholic social teaching into practice. One recent Friday session – and a particular highlight of mine – was when we joined CAFOD and other faith-based organisations, on a ‘pilgrimage to parliament’.
This was part of a campaign CAFOD ran called ‘No Faith in Fossil Fuels’, which calls on the UK government to divest from their investment in fossil fuels and to stop permitting companies to dig for oil, gas and coal, due to their harmful impacts on climate change.
The day started with hundreds of people gathering at a church for a short service. Here we prayed together for an end to the use of fossil fuels and for the protection of our common home. We then journeyed down to parliament square, taking our message directly to decision-makers.
The role of the Church in tackling climate change is a theme which has come up multiple times during our internship. It is an issue that the Church has been very active on, and during our various Friday sessions we have heard from different groups, such as the Laudato Si’ Research Institute, on the work they have been doing as a church-based agency to combat climate change. We were also lucky enough to be accompanied by Bishop John Arnold on our trip to the Holy Land. He has been a strong advocate for the Church’s role in battling climate change, especially in his role as spokesperson for the environment. Therefore, taking part in this event felt like the perfect way to put into action many of the discussions we have been having.
Last week, on the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, Pope Francis condemned the use of fossil fuels and gave people a mission: ‘let us raise our voices to halt this injustice towards the poor and towards our children, who will bear the worst effects of climate change.’
A consistent theme throughout our internship has been putting faith into action. To see so many people inspired by their faith to join together and raise their voices as the Pope has encouraged us to do was extremely empowering. People often assume it is only young people who are interested in climate change, but on the ‘pilgrimage to parliament’ I saw people from all walks of life, from toddlers to priests, all using their faith to create a movement.
This day highlighted yet another way that we can involve faith in politics; whilst we were not inside the Palace of Westminster, we still sent a message to politicians. We were creating hope and change, all inspired by our faith. Events and movements such as this allow the message of Laudato Si’ to directly reach decision-makers and influence policy. It was a brilliant experience to see so many people who have been inspired by their faith and the Church.