On Sunday 10th April, 13 Christians, under the banner of Christian Climate Action, were at Westminster Cathedral to join the congregation in Palm Sunday mass. After the service two members of CCA approached the head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, and asked that the Catholic Church take their investments out of fossil fuel companies.
Christian Climate Action held a demonstration in front of the Cathedral. Banners were unfurled with messages such as ‘churches divest now’. There were also banners which displayed the words of Pope Francis: ‘we are running out of time, as our children and young people have reminded us’. Some members of Christian Climate Action laid on the floor, with white cloths over them, representing those around the world who are suffering the effects of climate breakdown.
Helen Elwes, a Catholic from London was one of the group. She had created a large painting of Mother Mary on cloth which she brought to the Cathedral. She said: ‘We are here as witness for God’s creation and to pray peacefully for climate justice at this time of ecological and climate emergency. I brought a painted banner I have made called ‘Mother of mercy’. It is of Mary with her arms outstretched, protecting people of all races and endangered animals who take refuge under her all-surrounding cloak. The painting is set in a landscape devastated by fire, with the burning Amazon rainforest in the distance.’
Members of CCA spoke to members of the congregation as they came out of mass. They handed them prayer cards, which contained Pope Fracis’ Prayer for the Earth on the reverse. Helen said: ‘A large number of people took the cards and spoke of being moved by our demonstration. They were aware of the climate emergency and were thankful for our witness.’
55-year-old Gill Slater goes to Our Lady of the Annunciation in Addiscombe. When asked why she was at Westminster Cathedral for the demonstration, she said: ‘to worship at our Cathedral on Palm Sunday and to highlight the need for an urgent response to the climate and ecological emergency. This response has been called for by Pope Francis. The effects are being felt now.’
Martin Jarvis, a 67-year-old Catholic from Ealing was also one of the group. He said ‘I am here today in solidarity with the poor, the suffering, the earth and all its creatures. I feel the church is too slow to take up Pope Francis’ spirituality and his call for climate justice and social justice’.
Sally Chapman is a Catholic from Devon. She said: ‘I joined my CCA Catholic friends today outside Westminster Cathedral to expose the Church’s urgent need to divest from fossil fuels. Whilst the Catholic Church in England and Wales still has these investments, it is not aligned with the Pope’s Laudate Si Caring for God’s Creation. Antonio Guterres, the UN Secretary General, has recently warned us that action to end all fossil fuel extraction needs to happen now. There is no more time for negotiations, we need to tell the truth and act now.’
Earlier this week Ms Chapman took part in a campaign called Just Stop Oil, which calls for the government to immediately halt all future licensing and consents for the exploration, development and production of fossil fuels in the UK. A number of Catholics and clergy have been involved in the campaign, which shut down fossil fuel infrastructure across the UK.
Ms Chapman said: ‘I asked God for the courage to commit to this new campaign. Just Stop Oil is well run with lots of support, and I soon found myself amongst friends. Doing nothing is not an option for me. No one knows how effective the campaign will be, but it is clear to me that the more people who join the better chance it has in succeeding. Please join us, before it’s too late.’