POLITICAL ACTION

POLITICAL ACTION

INTRODUCTION

WHY SHOULD MY PARISH ENGAGE WITH POLITICS? Advocating for the those who suffer the most from climate change and bad business.

BY GRAHAM GORDON
Thousands of people gather to meet their MP’s outside Parliament

A very brief introduction to politics

By Graham Gordon

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on pocket
Share on email

We have asked Graham Gordon, Head of Public Policy at CAFOD to share a few words on what politics is, and why political action is so important to our faith.

In the beginning…

God created a good world, one in which human beings could flourish and be in relationship with each other, with God, and with the natural world (Genesis 1-2). However, this world has been corrupted due to human sin and greed, leading to destruction of the environment, inequality, and marginalisation. It has led to the concentration of power in the hands of a few, who often use that power for their own benefit.

Show me first your penny by Philip Hagreen. Used with permission

ROLLING OUR SLEEVES UP

We have the choice of throwing our hands up in despair and bemoaning the fact that the wealthy are getting wealthier, the environment is under threat and inequality is everywhere. Or we can roll up our sleeves, get involved, and bring about a change. This desire to get involved and change things for the better is at the root of political action.

WHAT IS POLITICAL ACTION?

Politics may be seen as a dirty word by some, but ultimately, political action is about promoting an agenda for change. It is about engaging in a contested space where there are many competing agendas, each with different world views, values, and motives.

Our vision of how the world could be, indeed how God designed the world to be, should guide our political action. Catholic Social Teaching is rooted in the values of the common good, of a preferential option for the poor, of care for creation, and these values should be at the heart of our political action to care for our common home. We need to hold elected politicians and office holders to account for the use of power, as servants of the people (Romans 13:1-7).

At a local level, many MPs and councillors run for office with the desire of improving the lives of their local area and the people they represent. However, once in office they are met with everyday economic and political pressures and a myriad of competing interests.

“True statecraft is manifest when, in difficult times, we uphold high principles and think of the long-term common good.”

Pope Francis, Laudato Si’ 178

MAKING YOUR PARISH HEARD

Parishioners meet John Spellar MP during CAFOD’s Power To Be Campaign

We need to be able to cut through the busyness, competing interests and pressures. So, whether your issue is seeking more charging points for electric vehicles, getting council commitments to net zero, protecting play areas for children, some ways to engage may be more effective than others:

  • Ask for a meeting with your local representative. They are there to represent you. Meeting with you is not a favour but an obligation as a public servant.
    – Be clear and propositional about what you are asking for and what they can do.
  • Be radical and hopeful with your ideas. Inspire them with your vision for a better world.
  • Use spokespeople and stories that can speak to people’s lives and show the reality of the issues you are facing, such as a teenager’s passion about climate change.
  • Don’t pin all your hopes on one person but seek change in the wider system and structures that have often been captured by self-interest and self-preservation.
  • Keep going until you get the change you seek, that might mean changing tactics and linking up with other groups on a common cause.

Photos copyright John Paul de Quay, Helen Moseley, Artwork copyright family of Philip Hagreen

About the Author

Graham Gordon is the Head of Public Policy at CAFOD, The Catholic Agency for Overseas Development.

WORDS OF WISDOM

URGENT CAMPAIGNS TO GET INVOLVED WITH

PETITION

CAFOD  ask you to Email Rishi Sunak and Ask him to show climate leadership ahead of COP26

We must prevent communities who’ve done least to cause the climate crisis from paying the biggest cost.

Community Organising

CAFOD: PARLIAMENT IN YOUR PARISH

Building coalitions in our wider community can strengthen civil society and bring lasting change. Can the parish help people become agents of change?

PETITION

CAFOD: CANCEL THE DEBT

Countries shouldn’t have to choose between saving lives or repaying corporations.

INSPIRING STORIES

By sharing these inspirational stories with you, we hope to inspire your creativity in your parish and to show that great things can be very simple, and very possible. Please do remember to write to us with any stories of projects that you would like to share.

ACTIONS

GET YOUR PARISH CAMPAIGNING

Here is a selection of ideas to get you started! If you have completed any of these projects, or run these services in your parish please do share your story or resources so that we can improve our guide. When deciding what to do, think about what the needs of your community are; some actions will be possible for some and not for others.

As this site progresses we will add links where you will find toolkits and resources to help you plan these activities. Please do send in any suggestions in the meantime.

SIGN UP TO A NEWSLETTER

Sometimes the simplest way to keep informed of world issues is to sign up to a newsletter of an organisation involved in advocacy.
You could make sure there is a print copy of the CAFOD bulletin on the church notice board.

PRAYER

It is important to remember to pray for world events.
Make sure you include prayers for those whose lives are destroyed as a result of our plundering the natural world, those who do not get their fair share and those suffering other injustices such as violence or persecution. Pray also for your own strength in building the kingdom of God.

NEWSLETTER

The Parish newsletter is a great way of informing people of current events, drawing attention to urgent appeals and communicating…
…what actions are going on in your parish and locally. Reading the newsletter as we wait for mass to start can put us in the right frame of mind if the content is reflective or thought provoking. How is my salvation tied with that of the world and my neighbours? Make sure you include any web links so people can follow up in their own time. Make sure the key events are read out from the pulpit.

FRATELLI TUTTI READING GROUP

Laudato Si’s sister encyclical on fraternity and friendship,and explores our need for love in politics.
Papal Encyclicals are not always an easy read, neither do we always get the most wisdom from them if we read them solely with our own outlook on life, or our own limited knowledge of world events. A parish reading group helps explore the teachings whilst sharing people’s experience and knowledge and can help unpick some tricky gems of wisdom. It is also great for bonding a group of concerned parishioners.

INVITE A GUEST SPEAKER (advocacy)

Well Greta Thunberg might be a stretch for your parish but there are many organisations who would be happy to come and talk…
…about their work and provide advocacy training on topics of environmental and social justice.

MEET YOUR MP

It’s an MP’s job to respond to the concerns of their communities, but you need to communicate with them to let them know…
…what you care about! Try and build a relationship with your MP, invite them to see the amazing things your parish is doing and inspire them to engage with ecological issues at a national level.

MORE ACTIONS

There are loads more ideas on how to enact systemic change in our communities and beyond. From engaging more with our own faith and spirituality, to organising our communities and alms giving. Change is needed at many levels. Keep exploring.

COMMUNITY ORGANISING PAGE

CHARITY/ALMSGIVING PAGE

USEFUL WEBSITES

To help your parish engage with politics

Engaging with politics requires knowledge, truth and networks. This should not put you off as there are many organisations out there to help to inform you of injustices and provide the knowledge that you need to engage with the matters, as well as providing the networks to help make our actions effective. Often being able to communicate the truth that those suffereing are our brothers and sisters is enough to make a difference.

PEACEBUILDING

Promoting an understanding of sustainable security where human needs are met and the environment is protected, rather than seeking security through weapons and warfare.

YOUTH

Enabling youth (17-30) to not only change the world around them but also to develop as Christian leaders in their own realities.

Overseas Development

CAFOD campaign for global justice so that every woman, man, and child can live a full and dignified life. They have vital campaigns that you can get involved with.

INFORMING

Reading the sign of the times is the J&P speciality; sharing information on issues concerning injustices and obstacles to peace.

HOW TO ENGAGE YOUR MPS

Dedicated to helping people engage their local politicians in action on climate change.

FairTrade

Millions of people across the globe who provide us with our food and fashion are on the front line of the climate emergency. They’re trapped in an unfair trading system that will only drive us further into crisis. The Fairtraide Foundation work to guarantee fairer pay and more power in the hands of farmers.

How does political action HELP US MEET THE LAUDATO SI' GOALS?

The Laudato Si’ Goals are our global Church’s vision for action. Launched by the Vatican in 2021, the 7 goals aim to guide us in our mission to care for our common home by recognising the integral link between all ecological and human systems. 

Have a read below about how the topic of this page helps us to meet each of the goals.

response to the cry of the earth laudato si goal logo

RESPONSE TO THE CRY OF THE EARTH

It is absolutely imperative for all aspects of society to engage with the climate crisis. This means we have to work with our politicians, businesses and civil society to ensure they understand and are committed to working together to solve the problem.

response to the cry of the poor logo

RESPONSE TO THE CRY OF THE POOR

As Christians, we have the responsibility to defend and advocate for the lives of the world’s most vulnerable people; we must ensure we are using our voices to influence politicians, businesses, and civil society to protect and uphold human rights.

ECOLOGICAL SPIRITUALITY

In campaigning, we can be a visible representation for the Church’s relevance in the wider world. It is also a very practical way that members of the Church can engage with the call for Christian mission to “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation” (Mark 16:15).

Ecological Economics logo

ECOLOGICAL ECONOMICS

It is hugely important to engage with the most powerful actors in our global economy to ensure that the rights of the earth and the poor are protected. Through our advocacy, we can campaign for fairer value chains, and campaign against damaging economic activities (e.g., the fossil fuel industry).

Adoption of simple lifestyles laudato si goal logo

ADOPTION OF SIMPLE LIFESTYLES

Using our political voices can help us build a more simple and caring society, e.g.  by campaigning for companies to use less packaging, by encouraging our local councils to provide more recycling provision, or advocating for better public transport.

Ecological education laudato si goal logo

ECOLOGICAL EDUCATION

Political engagement can serve as an excellent way to get young people more engaged with the wider world – to learn about how the global community works and to empower them to campaign for what they believe in and become better citizens and leaders.

Community involvement and participatory action laudato si goal logo

COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT AND PARTICIPATORY ACTION

Linking up with local organisations is a great way to build community and to amplify our efforts. In unity, we are able to better influence and build a wider campaign, evidencing to politicians and businesses alike the importance to act on the issue.

political action can be used to HELP US MEET all THE SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS

The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were adopted as a part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development by the United Nations in 2015 as a blueprint for more just future for people and the planet. Recognising that all injustice is interlinked, the UN invites the world to make these goals a reality by the year 2030.

ACTION STATIONS

Write to us

Do you have an inspiring story that you would like us to feature? Write to The Journey to 2030 at info@journeyto2030.org or click the link below.

FIND A LOCAL NETWORK

Find your diocese on the map and click to discover groups and contacts to support you in your diocese.

SIGN UP TO OUR MAILING LIST

Let us keep you in contact so that we can send you all the latest news and alert you to new features, blogs and more…

read laudato si'

Read the document that inspired The Journey to 2030.