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Christmas is close, and once again beset with uncertainty.  One thing the Nativity tells us is that somehow Love always finds a way in.  We've seen that in Caritas - who would have thought two years ago how skilled many of us would become with Zoom, as a way to keep our faith alive!

The turn of the year is a good time to take stock.  Once life resumes after Christmas I'll be preparing plans and budgets for April onwards.  How do you think this tender plant of Caritas should develop in the coming year?  How can we respond to the needs and opportunities you see?  At the end of this bulletin, I invite you to share your thoughts.

'That the whole world
may be taxed'

We also advertise our first online event - a workshop with Church Action for Tax Justice on 17 January.  If tax seems an odd thing to think about at Christmastime, read St Luke's account of the birth of Jesus.  Jesus was born in Bethlehem because an oppressive tax system required it. 

Who are the unjustly-taxed (and untaxed) today?  Benjamin Franklin said 'nothing is certain except death and taxes', but that only makes justice in taxation more important - for the sake of equality, transparency and investment in the Common Good.

We're delighted to be working with Church Action for Tax Justice and the National Justice and Peace Network to host the evening online.  You can book today.

Programme Leader for Social Action, Diocese of Nottingham

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In this issue
  • Finding Faith in Tax Justice: 17 January 2022
  • Ecological works of mercy, with Fr Patrick Bassey
  • Synod: online event for young people, their families and friends
  • Experiences of Islamophobia in Nottingham
  • Help shape Caritas through 2022
Wishing all readers of Grapevine
a happy Christmas
May we provide a home for the Christ Child,
and all who bring him to us 
however unwelcome we find them, 
this season and in the coming year.
Image by generous permission of the artist, Tim Sanders

Why does tax matter for people of faith?

Early in the New Year, we invite you to this online presentation and workshop which we're organising in partnership with Church Action for Tax Justice and the National Justice and Peace Network.

Recalling the mobilisation of the church community in the run up to the Millennium we will explore how a reformed and renewed tax system in the UK can contribute to the Common Good and build a more sustainable life for all.

Join us on Monday 17 January at 7.30 p.m. to discover an increasingly important theme in Christian social witness.
Click here to book your place on Eventbrite
Ecological works of mercy

This month's edition of the Catholic News features a thought-provoking article by Fr Patrick Bassey (a priest at St Hugh's in Lincoln) about our new diocesan environmental journey.  Following the COP26 climate summit, and the launch of our environmental policy framework last month, Fr. Patrick proposes ‘seven ecological works of mercy’. The article comes in three instalments, with part two following in January's issue.

Catholic News is independently published in the Diocese of Nottingham, and is available online or in parishes which have ordered hard copies.
Download Fr Patrick's article (on page 9)
Click for other editions of Catholic News

An invitation from LACY (Leicestershire Active Catholic Youth)
especially to young people, their families and friends

“Have your say: Synod '21-'23”

9th January 2022  at 4.00 p.m. via Zoom

A great opportunity for young people in our Church to input about the Synod. 
Discussion, fun time and a short liturgy will be shared together.

(Please note all young people under the age of 18 should be present with an adult).  Link-in details will be sent out at the beginning of January to schools and parishes, may be found on LACY's Facebook page, or you can email Pauline Payne by clicking the link below.
Click to request details for joining
Overcoming Islamophobia

Patricia Stoat of the Justice and Peace Commission writes:
Last month I was a guest at a round table on Islamophobia at the Green Academy Mosque in Nottingham.

It was a moving and difficult experience. To an audience that included the police, the Crown Prosecution Service, people from the City Council, the churches and others, several Muslim women gave courageous accounts of attacks they had suffered on the streets of Nottingham, often directed at them when they were pregnant or with their young children. Vile language, aggressive, in-your-face shouting, spitting, and photographing children with threats, tearing at hijabs ... it was hard to hear, and my heart went out to them. Such things should not be happening on the streets of our city.

It was clear that the impact of these attacks lingers for a long time – flashbacks and nightmares occur for weeks and even years. 

Reporting every incident of hate is important. Police handling of reported incidents must be better. More offenders must be prosecuted for hate crimes. More education and training for staff in civil and public services is necessary to ensure that victims of hate crime are treated with respect.

It is important that Muslims keep on speaking out and campaigning about hate crime; it is important that it is not swept under the carpet, disguised or hidden. People have been silent for too long.

Not only Muslims but members of other minority communities also suffer hate attacks. 

Professor Harminder Sing Dua reminded us that while police actions and prosecutions are necessary they are not sufficient to bring about the changes that are needed to make the streets of Nottingham a safe and pleasant place for us all. It is incumbent on all of us to learn - and to teach - respect for those who are different from us, to learn to value our neighbours and find the good and the best in them, and so witness to the good and the best in our diverse religions.
We are Caritas together: so what next?
Paul Bodenham invites you to continue shaping Caritas through 2022

I'd like to close this bulletin, and the year, with a word of personal appreciation and encouragement to the many people I've had the joy to travel with over the last year.  Our attention is turning to planning for next year, and it would be valuable to hear how you feel Caritas can best support you from here on, and where we should focus our shared endeavours. 

First a short review.  The journey started in 2019 as the Justice and Peace Commission took up Bishop Patrick's invitation to establish Caritas in our diocese.  Every Caritas is different: some employ dozens of staff, others are simple networks of groups and individuals.  It soon became clear that Nottingham's Caritas would be different again - a movement of people who share a dream for the Church here in the East Midlands as a sign of God's kingdom.  We support each other to realise that dream through prayer and practical action. locally and globally.

It has not been easy to hold a vision during the protracted uncertainty of Covid 19 and the rigours of social distancing.  But together we've managed it thanks to the commitment, generosity and creativity of the nearly 200 people who have participated in Caritas events - mainly online - over the last year. Here are just a few highlights:
  • Workshops like Prepare the Future and Open with Care to help parishes recover and thrive through lockdown
  • The online launch of Caritas at Pentecost, hosted by the diocesan Youth Service, together with our Caritas prospectus and Friends scheme
  • An online course The Word and the Common Good leading to six Here: Now: Us workshops around the diocese which engaged nearly 100 people on Saturdays this Autumn
  • Just last month, the launch of a diocesan ecological journey through this critical decade, including an environmental policy framework and Pioneer Parishes scheme, with input from Lord Deben and Raymond Friel.
As the pandemic goes on we must continue to be attentive to need and resourceful in responding.  A forthcoming edition of Grapevine will outline our proposed priorities for the coming year - but not before you have been able to contribute your own aspirations.

It's likely to be a quiet Christmas for many of us, so let me ask a favour.  Find a moment to help Caritas to discern a focus for next year which helps us all to grow in living the Gospel.  A good place to start is the prospectus which expresses the vision we started the year with.  Here are some questions that might prompt your thoughts.
  • What will help you and your fellow parishioners grow in confidence and leadership for mission?
  • How in practice should we get together to build common cause and shared endeavours?
  • What are you and your parish discovering through the Synod process that Caritas can help you implement?
  • And is there anything you personally would like help to get 'off the ground' that Caritas can support you in?
To share your ideas, click the link below to send us an email.  Let's be the best that God calls us to be in the coming year.  I look forward to hearing from you, and wish you a happy, healthy and peaceful Christmas.
Help shape Caritas through 2022
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