Maureen Thompson our parish volunteer at Emsworth and Campaign Volunteer Coordinator explains why she supports CAFOD.
CAFOD is the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development, the official aid agency of the Bishops of England and Wales and it is also part of Caritas Internationalis a confederation of Catholic relief charities. (together making up the 2nd largest aid agency globally) Overseas aid is a very small part of the Church’s mission as it is with the government, but it has a significant part of our Christian witness part of our loving caring for all.
So as the official aid agency CAFOD involves every parish in supporting them to raise funds to fulfil the churches mission to reach some of the very poorest people across the world offering opportunity to improve their lives and live in dignity.
CAFOD also have a remit in supporting parishes and Catholic schools in education and spiritually to understand Catholic Social Teaching and to put into action our core beliefs in dignity of all life, dignity in opportunity to work and participate and in seeking justice and peace – our hope that God’s kingdom will come
In some ways CAFOD are like other development Agency it is part of the Disasters Emergency Council and collaborates with other charities for mutual benefit and sharing good practice. However, as Church and as part of Caritas Internationalis they do offer a distinctive role in development and humanitarian response.
This year CAFOD produced a paper on this distinctive role called “7 ways the church makes a difference”. I mention it here as I found it a useful summary with some practical examples and because its aim is to help government agencies to better understand the role of faith-based organisations and I think this is sometimes an issue for us in the UK’s mostly secular culture. Its main premise being that in most places in the world religious leaders hold peoples trust, churches are spread across the world often in isolated communities and stay long term. CAFOD for example sometimes partners with other Caritas so they are often able to provide rapid local and inclusive humanitarian response in emergencies. Churches have a role in influencing social norms and behaviours, peacebuilding, mediation, and reconciliation. They can have a particular role too in encouraging citizen participation speaking truth to power and witnessing and accompanying suffering, in many countries they are prime providers of quality and inclusive healthcare and education and in supporting sustainable livelihoods. All these qualities mean there can often be very effective partners for change.
So, I have mentioned CAFOD fundraising, education, spirituality and the other aspect is why we are calling on your support is campaigning or speaking up. The Parliament in your parish initiative of CAFOD was very much motivated by Pope Francis latest encyclical Fratelli Tutti to encourage us to get involved and work for healthier societies through participating. We are all concerned for the world recovering from the pandemic in ways that include everyone and cares for our common home. Our hope is that Britain can play a leading role in this. We know this has been challenging for everyone and that there is a long road to recovery. We can get involved with this, locally, nationally and internationally by raising the question about how our wider world can build back a better!
As we all know 2021 is crucial year for Britain, we have already hosted the G7 summit and in November we will host the COP26 climate change summit so we hope all Catholics will support CAFOD is in speaking up to their MPS in person, on zoom or by letter.
Many thanks to Maureen for writing this article and sharing why she supports and volunteers for CAFOD.