Westminster Justice and Peace deeply disappointed by US environment backtracking

The Westminster Justice and Peace Commission is deeply disappointed by the actions of President Trump regarding energy and climate change, which cuts across all the endeavours of Pope Francis and the Catholic Church towards a new way of caring for creation.

On 29 March 2017 Donald Trump signed legislation – an Energy Independence Executive Order – which has undermined all Barack Obama’s policies to combat climate change by reducing emissions from fossil fuels. Central to the changes is a review of Barack Obama’s clean power plan – a pledge to cut US emissions by 26-28% by 2025 – which paved the way for the Paris agreement on tackling climate change involving 195 countries

Through this action, he has swept away green legislation at a stroke of the pen, and has enforced his statement that global warming was a ‘hoax’ invented by the Chinese. Crucially, the Paris accord of 2015 has been seriously undermined on greenhouse emissions and his actions also threaten to derail the worldwide fight against global warming. His plan will therefore make it impossible for the US to meet its Paris obligations.

Yet the US is the world’s second-largest emitter of greenhouse gases – behind China, and most of the world looks to the US for leadership and shared responsibility when it comes to saving our planet for future generations. When leaders of poorer nations see the lack of resolve on the part of the US they are likely to think twice about investing cash into schemes that will not produce immediate results in their political lifetime.

To be committed to climate change means that one has to be there for the long haul and work to pass on a sustainable world to future generations. There is NO ‘quick fix’ which is what many people would like in life. Environmental groups and all who are concerned with the care of our planet need to unite together in a sustained plan of action. We need to proclaim the message of Laudato Si, Pope Francis’ letter on ‘the care of our common home’, as never before. We must not be diverted by those who either deny or are indifferent to the task in hand. Now is the hour for renewed efforts.

Fr Joe Ryan (Chair) and Barbara Kentish (Fieldworker)

On behalf of Westminster Justice and Peace Commission

For further information contact the Commission on 0208 888 4222


Caring for the Environment: Justice, Faith and You


There will be a panel event on interfaith Environmental Concerns at Fyvie Hall, Regent Street Campus on Thursday 23rd March 2017 between 6:30pm and 8:30pm. All are welcome.

To register for this event, please see: http://interfaith-and-environment.eventbrite.co.uk

The panel includes the following speakers:

Chair: Roland Dannreuther, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the University of Westminster

Barbara Kentish, from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Westminster Justice & Peace Commission

Maiya Rahman, Campaigns Coordinator of Islamic Relief UK

Andreas Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos, Professor of Law & Theory at the University of Westminster

Don de Silva, Buddhist environmentalist, journalist, and CEO of Changeways International

Fairtrade Fortnight and the Westminster Fairtrade Diocese Campaign 2017

Westminster Justice and Peace are pleased to announce that there are now 95 parishes in the diocese signed up to Fairtrade, and in partnership with CAFOD we are pressing on to become a Fairtrade diocese.

Holborn Fairtrade

We organised two important talks during Fairtrade Fortnight on Brexit and its implications for trade justice. Mary Milne in Hitchin and Emilie Schultze in Holborn, Campaigns team for the Traidcraft company, explained that leaving the EU will probably mean leaving both the Single Market and the Customs Union, so that all trade negotiations will need to be renegotiated. Around £34billions’ worth of goods are imported by the UK from Less Developed Countries (LDCs), including not only fresh fruit and vegetables, but also more importantly, clothing and footwear. One-third of Belize’s exports reach the UK, along with 23% from Mauritius, and 10% from Bangladesh.

There are currently some good deals in place with LDCs and Europe, including one entitled ‘Everything but arms’, involving no tariffs. Less favourable is the Economic Partnership Agreement, which imposes bilateral conditions. If our government does nothing, a colossal £1billion extra taxes will be imposed by the World Trade Organisation on goods coming in. The Traidcraft speakers used the example of a group of grandmothers in Malawi caring for their grandchildren and running the Black Mamba chutney enterprise. Their prices would increase by 7 1/2 % and the niche Traidcraft market would inevitably sell less.

Possible advantages in leaving the EU could include ‘taking back control’ and giving countries a better deal. Kenya exports a large quantity of raw coffee beans but only 5% of roasted with a target of increasing to 10%. The more they process, the more they will have to pay in higher tariffs.

Parish representatives wanted to know why countries had such vulnerable economies, dependent on one commodity only, such as coffee, flowers or bananas, and it was explained that as well as an importer, Traidcraft as a charity was able to help small farmers to develop and diversify. Markets were often complicated, with other European countries having their own trading patterns.

Traidcraft begged the churches to raise this issue vigorously with our MPs and other groups; government is currently focussing on main suppliers and buyers in lead countries such as China, the US and Australia. The LDCs stand a good chance of being forgotten. Traidcraft has a card-signing campaign at the moment, for sending to our MPs, and some were distributed at the talks. Those who want to get involved should contact Traidcraft’s campaign office in South London: Traidcraft London Office (Campaigns), +44 (0) 203 752 5720 , 2.12 The Foundry, 17-19 Oval Way, London, SE11 5RR

Justice and Peace wants parishes to sign up to Fairtrade so as to support small farmers and producers such as the Black Mamba group to develop their own communities.

For further information contact:

Westminster Justice and Peace at justice@rcdow.org.uk

0208 888 4222

Trade Justice, Brexit, and Fairtrade Fortnight 2017

Holborn Fairtrade

We had good cause for celebration during Fairtrade Fortnight this year, when the theme was ‘It’s time to put Fairtrade in your break’. We now have 95 parishes signed up to Fairtrade – out of 214 comprising our diocese. Supporting Fairtrade means giving producers from small farms and cooperatives a fair price for their goods, and a chance to improve their lives.

Justice and Peace held 2 gatherings, at St Cecilia and St Anselms in Holborn and at Our Lady Immaculate and St Andrews in Hitchin, on the theme of ‘Free Trade and Fairtrade – Towards trade justice in the Post-Brexit era’. The speakers, Mary Milne and Emilie Schultze, from the development organisation, Traidcraft, explained how many new trade deals would have to be negotiated after Brexit, and that the poorer countries were a long way down the UK’s list of priorities. It is up to supporters to campaign on their behalf, they argued, so that Brexit does not mean that even more cards are stacked against them in the international trade scene.

Traidcraft is the organisation which many parishes order from when they run a stall, and Marion Hill, a ‘Fairtrade trader’ from St Dominic’s parish kindly ran a stall offering their goods. Traidcraft, explained Emilie Schultze, is not only an importing company, but also a charity which supports growers and producers to develop their goods and communities. It is currently running a card campaign to encourage us to contact our MPs and raise the issue of justice for the small farmers who produce the Fairtrade goods we buy, whether at a church stall or in the supermarket.

St John Vianney’s organised a cake sale early in the Fortnight, and raised £300 for fairtrade producers.

If your parish has not signed up, do get in touch and we can send you a pack telling you what is needed.

Bishop Paul McAleenan responds to Trump Travel Ban

‘Justice Violated and Hardship Imposed’ by Trump Travel Ban

‘What has President Trump’s travel ban achieved? Initially amazement and confusion, now as it is enforced extreme hardship precisely for those to whom we should be offering hope and a chance of a new life. Opposition to this decision goes beyond any political agenda, it is being rejected by those who clearly see that with this ban justice is being violated and hardship wilfully imposed.

‘Those who have the welfare of all humanity, especially refugees, at heart, must continue to let President Trump know that his protectionist policies are not the way forward. These policies do not correspond with the rest of the world’s attempt to alleviate the hardship of those who are long familiar with violence, fear and impoverishment.

‘One of the principles of Catholic social teaching is solidarity and the promotion of peace. Never was there a better time to proclaim it.  Those who believe in it will feel obliged to oppose President Trump’s policies, the proposed wall between Mexico and the US, and now the travel ban.’

President Trump issued the executive order entitled, ‘Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States’, on Friday 27 January, International Holocaust Memorial Day.

The executive order suspends the refugee admission programme for 120 days and prioritises refugee claims of religious-based persecution, provided it is a minority religion in the individual’s country of nationality. It halts the admission of Syrian refugees and restricts entry to no more than 50,000 refugees in the fiscal year 2017.

The executive order further imposes a travel ban on nationals from a number of countries of ‘particular concern’ (seven, predominately Muslim, countries have been named) and introduces a vetting system for everybody entering the US.

This statement originally appeared on the Diocese of Westminster website, www.rcdow.org.uk

FCO Reply to Postcards for Palestine Campaign

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has issued a reply to our Postcards for Palestine Campaign, which is appended in full below.

Reflecting on the FCO’s response, the Israel-Palestine Subcommittee would note that while the Government’s position appears very strong, there is no evidence that their position has had any meaningful effect to uphold the rights of the Palestinian people. It is beyond understanding that human rights can be so blatantly denied, and that nothing further, apparently, can be done in the way of international pressure.

To quote the FCO’s letter:

“We have regular dialogue with the Government of Israel with regard to the implementation of their obligations under international law, and regularly and robustly raise our serious concerns on issues relating to Israeli actions in the [Occupied Palestinian Territories].”

Dialogue is welcome and necessary, but some serious action is needed. The situation is not so complex that a solution is obscure. Put simply, there is an oppressor, and despite many attempts at peace talks, nothing has substantially changed. In fact, as the FCO admits, in spite of rulings from the international community and from Israel’s own court system, Israeli demolitions and wall construction has accelerated. The FCO expresses “concern” over demolitions, but again, it does not advance any action beyond “raising concern” with Israeli authorities.

The FCO also extends support for a two-state solution.We did not propose a two-state solution in our campaign, and while this may well be a way of supporting the rights of Palestinians in the region, our present interest is with the State of Israel’s responsibility to advocate for everyone within their current borders, regardless of their race, culture, or creed. It is very possible, even likely, given the current positions of the Israeli government, that the rights of Arab Christians and Muslims living in Israel would remain tenuous if Israel’s borders were changed. If the principles behind a two-state solution are not carefully assessed, this may also give tacit support to the exclusion walls which have divided Palestinian communities and families, including the Christian community in Cremisan.

We are grateful to the FCO and to Her Majesty’s Government for their support in holding Israel to account, and for their funding of key humanitarian and advocacy groups in the region. But as the horizon of the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Agreement dawns, we must also hold ourselves to account for our own complicity, and our ultimate failure to prevent the rights of Palestinians from being upheld.

The FCO letter is available to download here.

Statement from the USCCB on 27 January Executive Order

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Migration has issued the following statement regarding the recent US Executive order on migration policy:

President Donald J. Trump issued today an Executive Order addressing the U.S. refugee admissions program and migration to the United States, generally. The executive order virtually shuts down the refugee admissions program for 120 days, reduces the number of refugees to be admitted to the United States this year from 110,000 to 50,000 individuals, and indefinitely suspends the resettlement of Syrian refugees. In addition, it prioritizes religious minorities suffering from religious persecution, thereby deprioritizing all other persons fleeing persecution; calls for a temporary bar on admission to the United States from a number of countries of particular concern (all Muslim majority); and imposes a yet-to-be determined new vetting process for all persons seeking entry to the United States.

Regarding the Executive Order’s halt and reduction of admissions, Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, Texas, chairman of the Committee on Migration, stated:

“We strongly disagree with the Executive Order’s halting refugee admissions. We believe that now more than ever, welcoming newcomers and refugees is an act of love and hope. We will continue to engage the new administration, as we have all administrations for the duration of the current refugee program, now almost forty years. We will work vigorously to ensure that refugees are humanely welcomed in collaboration with Catholic Charities without sacrificing our security or our core values as Americans, and to ensure that families may be reunified with their loved ones.”

Regarding the Executive Order’s ban on Syrian refugees, the prioritization of religious minorities suffering from religious persecution, Bishop Vásquez added:

“The United States has long provided leadership in resettling refugees. We believe in assisting all those who are vulnerable and fleeing persecution, regardless of their religion. This includes Christians, as well as Yazidis and Shia Muslims from Syria, Rohingyas from Burma, and other religious minorities. However, we need to protect all our brothers and sisters of all faiths, including Muslims, who have lost family, home, and country. They are children of God and are entitled to be treated with human dignity. We believe that by helping to resettle the most vulnerable, we are living out our Christian faith as Jesus has challenged us to do.”

Moving forward after the announcement, Bishop Vásquez concluded:

“Today, more than 65 million people around the world are forcibly displaced from their homes. Given this extraordinary level of suffering, the U.S. Catholic Bishops will redouble their support for, and efforts to protect, all who flee persecution and violence, as just one part of the perennial and global work of the Church in this area of concern.”

Science, Justice, Faith and Care for the Earth – update

We still have tickets left for this event at the Cruciform Building, UCL on 6 February at 7 pm.

The event is free and open to the public, but please r.s.v.p. on Eventbrite.

We’re joining the Newman House University Chaplaincies for an evening panel discussion on the ramifications of Laudato Si’, Pope Francis’ groundbreaking encyclical on climate change.

Open discussion and reception will follow.

Speakers will be as follows:

Professor Clare Grey, Cambridge

Materials Chemist, Lithium Air Battery project leader


Rev. Dr. Martin Poulsom SDB, Heythrop

Creation Theologian


Professor Anne Power, LSE

Climate Change and Social Policy


See also www.twitter.com/LSEhousing

Richard Solly, London Mining Network

Head of an advocacy group for London Miners

See www.twitter.com/LondonMining

Quotes from Laudato Si’ for Homilies or Newsletters – January 2017

Creation quotes for newsletters from the Laudato Si  encyclical of Pope Francis

We suggest that parishes use these quotes  throughout the year.   We will send them in ‘batches’ rather than the whole year all at once, so they don’t get forgotten with the New Year resolution!   (LS  plus number =  the source paragraph of Laudato Si).

For a collection of all the quotes for the liturgical year, please see the Resources Page.

Period 2   Theme: Peace and Justice
(including Peace and Homelessness Sundays, New Year to Ash Wednesday)

Week beginning Sunday 1st January 2017 (perhaps a sentence to remind people, e.g. ‘Pope Francis says:’)

Exposure to atmospheric pollutants produces a broad spectrum of health hazards, especially for the poor, and causes millions of premature deaths. (But) the climate is a common good, belonging to all and meant for all. At the global level, it is a complex system linked to many of the essential conditions for human life. (LS 20, LS 23)

Week beginning Sunday 8th January

Very solid scientific consensus indicates that we are presently witnessing a disturbing warming of the climatic system. Humanity is called to recognize the need for changes of lifestyle, production and consumption, in order to combat this warming or at least the human causes which produce or aggravate it.(LS 23)

Week beginning Sunday 15th January

A number of scientific studies indicate that most global warming in recent decades is due to the great concentration of greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane, nitrogen oxides …) released mainly as a result of human activity… The problem is aggravated by a model of development based on the intensive use of fossil fuels, which is at the heart of the worldwide energy system.     (LS 23)

Week beginning Sunday 22nd January

Many of the poor live in areas particularly affected by phenomena related to warming, and their means of subsistence are largely dependent on natural reserves and ecosystemic services such as agriculture, fishing and forestry. They have no other financial activities or resources which can enable them to adapt to climate change or to face natural disasters, and their access to social services and protection is very limited. (LS 25)

Week beginning Sunday 29th January

There has been a tragic rise in the number of migrants seeking to flee from the growing poverty caused by environmental degradation. They are not recognized by international conventions as refugees; they bear the loss of the lives they have left behind, without enjoying any legal protection whatsoever. Sadly, there is widespread indifference to such suffering, which is even now taking place throughout our world.(LS 25)

Week beginning Sunday February 5th

Many professional(s) live far from the poor … This lack of physical contact and encounter, … can lead to a numbing of conscience … Today, however, we have to realize that a true ecological approach always becomes a social approach; it must integrate questions of justice in debates on the environment, so as to hear both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor. (LS  49)

Week beginning Sunday February 12th

To blame population growth instead of extreme and selective consumerism on the part of some, is one way of refusing to face the issues. It is an attempt to legitimize the present model of distribution, where a minority believes that it has the right to consume in a way which can never be universalized, since the planet could not even contain the waste products of such consumption. (LS  50)

Week beginning Sunday February 19th

People may well have a growing ecological sensitivity but it has not succeeded in changing their harmful habits of consumption which, rather than decreasing, appear to be growing all the more.  A simple example is the increasing use and power of air-conditioning.  (LS  55)

Week beginning Sunday February 26th

If we are truly concerned to develop an ecology capable of remedying the damage we have done, no branch of the sciences and no form of wisdom can be left out, and that includes religion and the language particular to it. The Catholic Church is open to dialogue with philosophical thought; this has enabled her to produce various syntheses between faith and reason. The development of the Church’s social teaching represents such a synthesis with regard to social issues; this teaching is called to be enriched by taking up new challenges. (LS 63)