On Monday 14th November, a group of Catholics from the Laudato Si movement held a prayer vigil outside Hinsley Hall in Leeds, where the Bishops of England and Wales were gathered for the first day of their Autumn Plenary meeting. We carried a banner reading ‘Loss and Damage is a Pro Life Issue’ – referring to the harm caused to all life by human-generated climate change, and a contemporary icon of Mary, Mother of Mercy. In the weeks before the meeting, the group had sent a letter to each Bishop signed by 50 Catholics from a variety of concerned campaign groups, explaining the background to the vigil and inviting them to meet and pray with us on the day. We asked that they speak to the UK government and to their Catholic communities, on behalf of those vulnerable countries which have done least to cause climate chaos but are suffering its worst effects. Their people are losing their homes and livelihoods; richer countries who contribute most to climate change owe them help to repair this damage.
The day was good. Coming together outside on a cool and damp autumn day – holding silence, praying the psalms, and singing hymns – felt truly expressive of both lament to God and hope in the Holy Spirit’s inestimable power. Bishop Ralph was among the first Bishops to come out to greet us and join in a prayer, and many more came to talk and stand with us during the afternoon. As darkness fell and the evening approached we left in a spirit of hope.
Columba Timmins – joint environmental lead, Hallam Diocese.