Reflections on the Cycling Pilgrimage to Paris

It’s a week since Ann Wilson and I returned from our Laudato Si’ Cycling Pilgrimage to Paris with Westminster Justice and Peace Commission.  There were many memorable moments: staying with a French family in Dieppe, we passed through some beautiful countryside and small towns and Paris itself was impressive and its people welcoming.  The group had a great sense of common achievement at the end and the stronger members cared for the slower and especially with the frequent punctures.  When we reached Paris, a photo and brief interview with Ellen Teague awaited us in front of Notre Dame.

We heard from people who had come from far and wide to be there.  Others had walked from the UK, two had cycled from Vietnam, a group walked from Rome.  The same conviction drew us.  Time.  Time to take action to reduce our impact on the earth, on its people and on everything that exists and grows interdependently.  Time to open our eyes and see the inter-relatedness of all things.  Time to discover and promote a system of thinking, believing and action that means that we won’t do lasting damage to the current life on earth.  Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si’: On Care of our Common Home for many involved in CAFOD has proved to be an enlightening call to a standard.

At the interfaith service on Saturday last, a German Lutheran Bishop addressed us in English.  In his country, the average annual carbon footprint for each person was 10 tonnes of Carbon emitted he told us.  The world average is 4 tonnes.  To have the planet healthy, it needs to be just 2 tonnes per person per year.  A fifth of our current emissions.  The UK’s status is similar to Germany’s.

The “elephant in the room” is all of us – our current lifestyle, and recent years show already that technology can only play a small part in reducing it.  Can we discover a more simple form of living and see the greater benefits?  CAFOD’s, “Live simply so others can simply live” says it all.

The highlight of the Pilgrimage for me was the hand in of the 1.8m faith petitions to the UN Climate Change Chief, Christiana Figueres who was visibly moved by the commitment she witnessed.  Now, with a  week of the Convention still to go, there is still hope that the world can come to a deal, a weak one but nevertheless a deal which can be built upon.  Let’s pray!

Let’s also keep up the pressure on our Government whose commitment to addressing Climate Change has been questioned.  There’s a CAFOD petition to sign to reduce investment in fossil fuels: http://www.cafod.org.uk/Campaign/One-Climate-One-World/Climate-minister-email.

Thanks!

 

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