COP26: As always, the poorest are shouting but the rich close their ears

The Queen, who spent a night in hospital last week, will not now be attending COP26. It was hoped that Pope Francis would attend but he is not now coming. Other significant absences have also been noted. But perhaps it is more helpful to think of who will be there, and the hope they offer. Hundreds, maybe thousands, of COP pilgrims are among them. Catholics and other Christians are among the environmental campaigners now reaching Glasgow, having set off from as far afield as Poland, Sweden and from across the UK to emphasise the danger posed to our world by climate change. Sciaf and Cafod staff have been working round the clock. In her address to The Tablet‘s autumn festival, “On the road to COP26”, Christine Allen of Cafod spoke of climate justice. “Those who have done the least to cause the climate crisis are paying the biggest impact, with least resources to do so. We can do all the development we like, but it may well get washed away in increasing natural disasters, or entrench poverty further through crop production and food crises because of erratic weather patterns. The poorest pay the price. For richer countries, climate change may well be a future event. Our politicians can blithely talk about 2030 or 2050 and kick the can down the road or deny net-zero is something to be aimed for. But for Cafod’s partners it’s the reality they face today.” She has worked in development for 20 years and the voices of partners who face the realities of climate change have become deafening in that time. “As always, the poorest are shouting but the rich close their ears. I’ve stood in fields, forests and with urban communities and the poorest people tell me about climate change. People know and around the world they are clamouring for change, and they are protecting their own environments. To the extent that four people a week are killed defending their land and environment.”

Bishop William Nolan of Galloway Diocese, who is being tipped to take over from the late Philip Tartaglia as Archbishop of Glasgow, will represent Scottish Catholics at COP26.

The Catholic bishops of Scotland have announced their divestment from fossil fuels in advance of COP26 in Glasgow, alongside 72 other faith organisations internationally. Madoc Cairns reports. Many Christian pilgrims and other groups have now reached Scotland. Ellen Teague is keeping track of the various COP caminos and other groups, and will be reporting on the conference for The Tablet. Speaking at our Road to COP26 Tablet webinar on Saturday, Christine Allen of Cafod warned that “we are way off track” in terms of addressing climate change and are currently heading for global temperature rises of 3C. Sarah Mac Donald reports on this and the keynote address from former Prime Minister Gordon Brown. In the print edition, Hannah Malcolm asks whether we can lament the climate crisis without falling into despair, and resolve to live humbly and well in a collapsing world. Josianne Gauthier says only fundamental changes, not only to the global economy and to individual lifestyles, but to the way we relate to one another, to our past and to the planet, will be enough to avert a climate catastrophe.

2. A Catholic Bishop has criticised Sudan’s new military government as a backwards step, amid warnings by Christian charities that the African country’s fragile religious freedoms may well be under threat. By Madoc Cairns.

3. Bishop John Sherrington told The Tablet: “The passion associated with this debate invites further reflection about how we care for our elderly, the financing of such care, as well as the relationship between health and social care.” Ellen Teague and Sebastian Milbank have been following the debate on the Assisted Dying Bill.

4. Nine new seminarians have begun their priestly formation for Irish dioceses. The figures were released as it emerged that the number of active diocesan priests in the Archdiocese of Tuam alone halved over the past twenty-five years, dropping from 115 in 1996 to 47 today. Sarah Mac Donald reports. In his accompanying cartoon, Pugh suggests what the missing priests might have found themselves called to do instead.

5. Archbishop of Westminster Cardinal Vincent Nichols has welcomed Little Amal, the 3.5 metre-tall puppet of an unaccompanied 10-year-old Syrian child refugee, to Westminster Cathedral. Ellen Teague and Scarlett Sherriff report.

6. Sister Elizabeth Anne (Liz) Dodd, former home news editor of The Tablet, has been received as a novice by the Congregation of the Sisters of St Joseph of Peace (CSJP). By Ellen Teague.

7. In a letter of condolence following the death of one of his closest friends, 94-year-old emeritus Pope Benedict XVI says he looks forward to joining his friends in heaven soon, reports Christa Pongratz-Lippitt.

8. This year sees the 25th anniversary of the publication of The Common Good and the Catholic Church’s Social Teaching, a statement by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales prior to the general election in 1997. Raymond Friel of Csan assesses its impact.

9. Medievalist Michael Carter offers a Halloween reflection on the dismemberments of biblioclasts. “Cut missal up in evening – hard work,” reads the diary of one of them.

10. Bartimaeus, the blind beggar, is one of only a handful of people Mark names in his gospel. “The healing of Bartimaeus is much more than a miracle story: for all its raw immediacy, it is an intriguing and subtle dialogue about the meaning and consequences of faith,” says Fr Alban McCoy OFM Conv in his latest sermon.

All these stories are in The Tablet this weekend.

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