Ged and I made it to Paris from Dieppe – 160 miles and we only fell off once each…
We were part of an interfaith group of 17 cyclists organised by Westminster Diocese J and P group.
We took 3 days to get there spending much of the time on the Avenue Verte, a cycle route away from traffic through the Normandy countryside. The first day was somewhat wet, the second icy, but by day 3, the sun had come out as we cycled to Notre Dame in the centre of Paris. We were hosted in Dieppe by families from a parish and we spent an evening of prayer and reflection with them. It was apparent that, as well as cycling to show our concern for the planet, we were also cycling in solidarity with our friends in France in order to support them in the aftermath of the atrocities of 13th November.
The pilgrimage focused my mind on the perseverance necessary to establish change. We just had to keep going and it was wonderful to have the support, especially mechanical (the group had more than 15 punctures along the way) as well as the care shown to all members of the group in order to ensure we all arrived safely.
In Paris, we took part in an interfaith event and heard the tales of other pilgrims. A couple had cycled from Vietnam!! It was marvellous to be part of a truly international group of concerned activists. We also heard Christiana Figueres (Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change) with great emotion about the necessity to have a binding agreement to reduce carbon emissions and ensure the global temperature does not rise above devastating levels. Christiana is chairing this most important of Conferences and it was an honour that she came to meet us.
The petition with almost 2 million signatures from faith groups around the world was presented. The 40,000 signatures from CAFOD were part of this number with 840,000 from the Catholic Church across the world as announced by Cardinal Cláudio Hummes from Brazil representing Pope Francis. I felt very proud of our effort as part of this massive message the world leaders. Let’s hope and pray that they listen to our voices as we listen to the cry of the poor and the cry of the earth, led by Pope Francis.
Having time to spare on the way home, via Eurostar, Ged and I treated ourselves to a glass of Beaujolais for the journey!