The Catholic Union, formed in 1871, is the leading lay organisation in Great Britain to champion the spiritual, moral and social teaching of the Catholic Church in the public sphere.
Pope Benedict XVI addressed these issues in his speech in Westminster Hall on 17th September 2010:
“ …there are those who would advocate that the voice of religion be silenced, or at least relegated to the purely private sphere … that Christians in public roles may be required at times to act against their conscience”.
The Union’s Patron
St. Thomas More died for the Faith on Tower Hill on 6th July 1535. He is the universal patron of statesmen and politicians.
The Union’s Role
The Catholic Union enjoys consultative status to the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales. It influences the changing nature of the parliamentary world where the Government itself relies on the recommendations of expert Commissions, which in turn take public or invited evidence and advice.
The Union also seeks to uphold a Christian standpoint in public life through educational activities, representations to Parliament, Government bodies and the media.
Much of the detail at the Committee stage of legislation is thus open to outside amendment with consensus rather than confrontation. With wide expertise in different disciplines, the Union has been able to make effective criticisms and representations to Government in many areas.
It has specialists on the Parliamentary and Public Affairs Committee and it also has representatives in the field of bio-ethics with the Catholic Medical Association with whom it has a Joint Medical Ethics Committee.
The Union takes its role seriously and is guided in its Catholic principles by the Magisterium of the Catholic Church. The document “The Participation of Catholics in Political Life” issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, is extremely helpful in this regard, especially in respect of the duties of the laity and their participation in public life.
As well as its elected council with its Chairman, the Union has a number of specialist and regional committees including committees for both Scotland and Wales.