The 2016 Summer Gathering was held on Saturday 25 June 2016 at St. Mary’s University.
The day’s events started with Mass at the University’s chapel, which His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI visited during his visit to the UK in 2010. Mass was celebrated by Rev Fr John Dickson SDB. David O’Mahony, chairman of the Union spoke about his visit to Rome. Next was Tony Cole, chairman of the Parliamentary and Public Affairs Committee (PPAC). Since the last gathering the Liverpool Care Pathway has been dropped, the Physician Assisted Dying Bill was defeated in Parliament by a vote of 330 to 118. However the issue has not gone away and the BMA debated the matter again only last week and decided to maintain their opposition .
Another issue is modern slavery with which Teresa May the Home Secretary (now Prime Minister) and Cardinal Vincent Nichols have been involved. The scientific section of Laudato Si the Pope’s exhortation deals with climate change. Abortion is back on the agenda and there is a Parliamentary enquiry into abortion law. The question of Genocide should be referred to the UN Security Council, while HM Government maintains that it is a matter for the courts to determine. On a positive note we had a small victory in keeping the Sunday trading laws without amendment. Last to speak was Sir Edward Leigh, President of the Union. He explained how hard it is to have a Catholic perspective on many issues which come before the House of Commons.
Luncheon with wine was served in the splendid Waldegrave Drawing Room. Following lunch, some of the attendees toured Strawberry Hill House, which adjoins the University’s buildings. This house was owned and developed by Horace Walpole, politician, writer, collector and son of Sir Robert Walpole, Britain’s first Prime Minister.