Image: Eco friendly Christmas


Sr Margaret Rose Bradley writes our latest blog and reflects on making Christmas environmentally friendly. 

In Britain each year at Christmas we use enough wrapping paper to reach the moon – and most of it can’t be recycled. Yet there are eco-friendly ways to wrap gifts that don’t cost the earth (in any sense).

Last year I bought some eco-friendly gift bags from Amnesty International. Made of newspaper, they were produced by a group in India. The work provided the group with an income, which in turn gave them a way to support their families.

Wrapping gifts in newspaper or brown paper is environmentally friendly and we could make it a fashion statement.

Then there’s the food waste. I was shocked to learn that In Britain alone, 4,000 Christmas dinners are thrown away because too many people buy much more than they need. An organisation called Olio encourages people to share leftover food by advertising the extra food on line. At Christmas they help people to share leftover food. See their website for details.

Christmas is an ideal time to think more carefully about our own recycling and in this way care for the earth as Pope Francis encourages us to do. And we really don’t need the latest fridge or washing machine.

I’m a board member of the charity Glasgow Play-Resource Association (GPA). Originally known as Glasgow Playschemes Association the charity began by people banding together to buy resources. My advice to anyone setting up a similar group is to buy in bulk – it’s often cheaper. And the fun that children get from making their own wee gifts for the family far outweighs expensive bought presents. Used Christmas cards can provide materials for this – so don’t throw them out, save for next year.

GPA now accepts loads of things to recycle – from milk bottle tops to buttons, beads, needles, thread and wool. Empty sweetie tins? Organisations like GPA can use them for arts and crafts with children, young people and older people in nursing homes. Ask around your local area before you consign these sorts of items to the bin. Even your unused stationery could be used by playgroups and craft groups.

All charities have a funding problem. They will be staffed by volunteers so may not get back to you immediately. Be patient and don’t give in to throwing out.
Pope Francis urges us to care for our earthly home. In his 2015 encyclical Laudato Si, he reminded us that St Francis ‘helps us to see that an integral ecology calls for openness to categories which transcend the language of mathematics and biology, and take us to the heart of what it is to be human’. Being imaginative with what is no longer of use to us personally can help change the world.

 Sir David Attenborough told the world leaders that we are at a critical stage of preserving our world. We can all make the three ‘Rs’ our motto in 2019 to preserve our earth for future generations - Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.
Sr Margaret Rose Bradley SND Chairperson, Board of Directors, Glasgow Play-Resource Association. Unit 1, 135 Moffat Street, G5 0ND

Image: Peace be with you


Marian Pallister, vice chair of Justice and Peace Scotland, reflects on working to create a Pax Christi Scotland

They are laughing at me (in the nicest possible way) here at the Justice and Peace office in Glasgow because during the past year of helping to set up Pax Christi Scotland, I have been referring to the Commission as ‘the mother ship’.
I make no apologies, because while Pax Christi International is a rather older Catholic organisation, founded in 1945 as a reconciliation movement, Pax Christi Scotland is just finding its feet. We need the Justice and Peace Commission’s approval and guidance to achieve status as one of the 120 member organisations of Pax Christi International. Approaching 40, and with the wisdom and experience that goes with those four decades, Justice and Peace Scotland fits the ‘mother ship’ description perfectly.
There are Pax Christi movements in more than 50 countries, and within the next year, Pax Christi Scotland hopes to cut loose and become a member of that global family working with a particularly Scottish ethos alongside our sibling organisations.
Like those older siblings, we will be working for peace, respect for human rights, and justice and reconciliation. And yes, as the members of the Scottish Bishops’ Conference commented when Justice and Peace Scotland chair Honor Hania laid our case before them a few weeks ago, that does sound very similar to the work of the Commission.
Similar – but different.
And that is why for some years, supporters of the peace movement in Scotland have felt that we should be one of those Pax Christi member countries. Pat Gaffney, general secretary of Pax Christi in the UK – a body with its main support in England and Wales – has encouraged us to become Pax Christi Scotland.
As a member of the steering group set up in February 2018 after Pat Gaffney called a meeting to move things forward, I’ve found it challenging but rewarding to discover so much support for the model we hope to develop. Our little team – Grace Buckley and I from Justice and Peace Scotland, Dr Rosalyn Mauchline from the diocese of St Andrew’s and Edinburgh, and Hugh Foy, director of programmes and partnerships for the Xaverian Missionaries, UK Province – has been working on a route map to becoming a fully fledged Pax Christi member organisation.
As you know, Pax Christi International’s core principles echo Pope Francis’ insistence that it is not only immoral to use weapons of mass destruction but also to own them and trade in them. It is a given that Pax Christi Scotland will play a supporting role in that campaign, but we intend to concentrate on the more general nonviolence aspects of Pope Francis’ 2016 Day of Peace address, which stressed that peace starts in the family, the school and the parish. Pax Christi Scotland’s mission is to develop programmes enabling nonviolence to become the cornerstone of Scottish family and parish life.
Our children shouldn’t grow up thinking that the angry language and hostile environment we experience today is the norm. Pax Christi Scotland’s mission is to help create a kinder country, while our mother ship campaigns for the justice that leads to peace.

Image: Become an eco-congregation – and change your life.


Could you encourage your parish to become an Eco-Congregation?  Fintan Hurley did exactly that in Edinburgh and he writes about it in this week's blog.

About three years ago our parish, Our Lady of Loretto and St. Michael’s in Musselburgh, registered as an eco-congregation. That’s nothing remarkable: Eco-Congregation Scotland (ECS) ( has about 440 registered congregations. But it’s still unusual among Catholic parishes – even after Laudato Si, only about 6% are registered, compared with more than 20% each from Church of Scotland or Scottish Episcopal Church.   

Yet registration is straightforward – it’s simply a sign of intent to take environmental care seriously, as part of the life of the congregation. And it’s free, though ECS encourages membership, for a small annual fee to help support their work.

We registered through our parish priest, Fr. Basil Clark, and Miriam McHardy – you may know them from Justice and Peace work over the years. So from the beginning our environment work was under the J&P umbrella.

This isn’t a new idea: Laudato Si encourages it, as do the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. But it’s a very good idea. It helps so many things fall into place about environment, justice and peace.

Now we call ourselves the J&P&E group – justice and peace and environment - a stool with three strong legs, supporting one another. 

From the beginning we saw this as ecumenical work – at this time of environmental crisis and injustice it seemed obvious to co-operate on ‘the integrity of God’s creation’. And so our local ecumenical network, Musselburgh Churches Together (MCT), invited David Bethune of ECS to lead one of our Lenten services this year.

David explains things very well, and he or another ECS representative could visit your parish or ecumenical group. 

Applying for an ECS Bronze Award was good for us as we were assessed, and it seems we got it right because we received the award. The application highlighted the wide range of things a parish can do, from planting a wildflower garden to making a bike rack from recycled metals, to installing an efficient heating system and developing ECS materials. Several young people from the parish got involved – our links with the local Catholic schools are an important part – and we are now in touch with environmental agencies. 

ECS liked what we’re doing and invited me to be a trustee. I found John Seenan there already – many of you will know John from J&P work over the years, especially in Paisley diocese. And you may know the new ECS manager, Stephen Curran. All three of us are very happy to help other Catholic parishes on the ECS journey, as best we can. 

Our parish Eco Group is still small and our next big step is working out how to involve the whole parish more fully in the care of the environment and climate justice. I think this mainstreaming is an issue for many eco-congregations, and maybe for J&P(&E) activities more generally. We hope that being part of the ECS movement will help us do it, working side-by-side with other like-minded congregations. Including maybe yours. 



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