Author Archives: James Somerville-Meikle

Catholic Union calls for freedom of religion or belief manifesto commitments

The Catholic Union has called for a manifesto commitment from the three main, national parties to tackle religious persecution.

Writing to Boris Johnson, Jeremy Corbyn, and Jo Swinson, the Catholic Union has called for freedom of religion or belief to be at the heart of government policy, whoever who wins the election.

The Catholic Union has specifically called for a commitment to implement the recommendations of a recent report into Christian persecution, carried out by the Bishop of Truro.

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Catholic work to promote religious freedom praised by Special Envoy

The Prime Minister’s Special Envoy for Freedom of Religion or Belief, Rehman Chishti, has praised the contribution of the Catholic Church to tackling religious persecution.

Speaking at a talk hosted by the Catholic Union on 7 November, Mr Chishti said that the Church and Catholic charities like Aid to the Church in Need are helping to provide information on the ground in some of the worst affected places. He also drew on the words of Saint John Henry Newman – lead kindly light – as inspiration for tackling religious persecution.

The event at Mary Moorfields Church in Moorgate began with a talk from the Bishop of Truro, Philip Mounstephen, who led a recent report into Christian persecution.

Bishop Philip said that whilst he had been asked to lead the report by the Archbishop of Canterbury, he saw this as an ecumenical project and praised the contribution of Catholics to the review. He said that persecution of Christians was a “bellwether” for other forms of discrimination, both religious and other types.   Continue reading

Catholic Union responds to Queen’s Speech

The State Opening of Parliament and Queen’s Speech took place on Monday 14 October. 

Head of Public Affairs, James Somerville-Meikle, commented: “It’s good to see the Domestic Abuse Bill carried over from the last Parliament – this contains a number of important measures, but the Government must ensure that a Bill designed to help victims of domestic abuse, does not get hijacked by arguments about abortion. We will study Bills on divorce and sentencing carefully.

“Encouragement for EU nationals to remain here after Brexit is a step in the right direction. We know that many people from EU countries who have built lives in this country – and become a valued part of church communities across the country – have secured the right to remain. But many have not. Warm words from the Government need to be backed up by practical and pro-active policies to help people who want to stay.

“There was no mention of faith schools, tackling religious persecution or ending homelessness. We will be calling for manifesto commitments in these areas from all main parties ahead of the election, to make sure they are not overlooked.”

Lord Glasman delivers annual Catholic Union Craigmyle Lecture

The Catholic Union’s annual Craigmyle Lecture was delivered this year by the Labour peer and founder of Blue Labour, Lord Glasman.

Lord Glasman addressed Catholic Union members and friends at the University of Notre Dame’s London campus near Trafalgar Square on Thursday 10 October about “Catholic Social Thought and the Economics of the Common Good”

Lord Glasman said it was “extremely generous” for someone who is not Catholic to be invited to give a talk on Catholic social teaching. But he stressed the universal appeal of Catholic social thought, and reminded his audience of the role of the Church in the development of the Labour movement in Britain. “Catholic social thought is in exile in this country and it is time for it to come home”, he said.

The talk also touched on Brexit and Lord Glasman said that the “abandonment of Catholic values which had been at the heart of the EU” had helped to create a disconnect between people and politics in Europe. He described this moment as a time of change which was “disturbing and frightening to many people.”

Catholic Union Head of Public Affairs, James Somerville-Meikle commented: “This was a fantastic talk from someone who knows the Labour movement inside out in this country. It was a timely reminder of the importance of Catholic Social Teaching to people across the political spectrum, in our past and hopefully in our future. At a time when our politics can often be focused on the short term – this was good to be reminded about what our politicians should be striving to achieve: dignity in work, fair markets, and a more even distribution of wealth. We are extremely grateful to Lord Glasman for his insights into this fascinating time in politics.”

The text of Lord Glasman’s talk is available here: Catholic Social Thought and the Economics of the Common Good