On the 14th of November, several Catholic climate activists – held a five-hour prayer vigil outside Hinsley Hall during the Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales (CBCEW) Autumn Plenary Meeting.
The meeting took place at Hinsley Hall, Leeds. The Animators held their vigil from 12noon until 5pm. The group consisted of activists from Dioceses across England and Wales. Among them were members of the Justice and Peace Commission’s Climate Action Group, Laudato Si Animators, Christian Climate Action, Green Christian, CAFOD, and ACTA.
In the lead up to the conference the activists had sent each of the Bishops a letter, signed by around 50 Laudato Si Animators and Christian Climate Action members. In the letter they asked that the Bishops speak out to the UK Government about compensation and reparation owed to those countries who are already suffering at the hands of the climate crisis, a crisis that we, not they, are not responsible for. They appealed to the Conference to ask the UK Prime Minister to sign up to the ‘Damage and Loss’ proposals at COP27
The activists displayed a banner reading “Loss and Damage is a Pro-Life Issue”, referencing the catastrophic effects that the climate crisis is already beginning to cause. As the impacts of the climate crisis will not be equally felt across the world, the group prayed for vital global financial assistance for MAPA – the most affected people and areas. The group also displayed a banner of Mary Mother of Mercy, painted by Helen Elwes which depicts Mary sheltering people and animals from a burning rainforest.
Their letter to the Bishops also asked that the Bishops raise awareness of the intersectionality between the ‘cries of the earth’ and the ‘cries of the poor’ through releasing a pastoral letter and encouraging screenings of the film ‘The Letter’. ‘The Letter’ is a film released recently by the Laudato Si Movement and The Vatican Dicasteries of Communications of Integral Human Development.
As the Bishops walked to the bus that took them to Mass for Cardinal Roche at the Cathedral at 5pm, they walked past the activists and their banners. The group was joined in prayer by several Bishops at the Conference – including Bp John of Salford, spokesperson for the environment for the CBCEW. It is thought that our own Bishop, Bishop Marcus, travelled to the mass by car and so did not walk past group or have the opportunity to join.
The statement following the CBCEW meeting encourages Catholics to take up Friday abstinence from meat, Diocesan carbon reduction monitoring, and encourages parishes and schools to adopt the CAFOD LIVESIMPLY scheme. One of the activists, David Jackson, said: “Not quite what the letter sent to each Bishop asked for – but steps in the right direction”.

This story was published in ICAN, where you can find more statements attendees: https://www.indcatholicnews.com/news/45904