Tag Archives: Catholic Church

Catholic Bishops have no place in the Lords

Below is a letter published in the Sunday Telegraph on 4th January 1015,  signed by a group of Catholics in Parliament.

SIR – Matt Showering makes a no doubt well-intentioned call for improved Roman Catholic representation in the House of Lords by granting seats to Roman Catholic bishops. This would not be the way to go.

Over the Catholic Church’s long history, it has discovered that mixing clerical and legislative offices can lead to problems. There are many famous examples where the seduction of temporal power diminished and obscured the pastoral mission of ordained ministers, or where the Gospel suffered instrumentalisation at the hands of passing ideologies.

The Catholic Church instead challenges its laity to enter the public sphere and to work through a variety of political parties and structures to see Christ’s teaching reflected in public life. As Catholic politicians, we believe that is the right way to go.

Rob Flello MP (Lab)
Jonathan Evans MP (Con)
Mike Kane MP (Lab)
Stephen Pound MP (Lab)
Cllr Chris Whitehouse (Con) Isle of Wight County Council
Lord Hylton (Crossbench)
Lord Balfe (Con)

 

Jim Dobbin MP RIP

Jim Dobbin, Labour MP for Heywood and Middleton in Greater Manchester since 1997, and a Vice-President of the Catholic Union, died on Sunday 7th September during a visit to Poland. As a member of the Council of Europe. he had travelled there on Friday, together with former Deputy Prime Minister Lord Prescott and fellow Labour MP Alan Meale MP. He is is survived by his wife Pat, two daughters and two sons.

A coalminer’s son, born on 26 May 1941 in Kincardine, in Fife, he went to St. Columba’s High School, Cowdenbeath and then to Napier College, Edinburgh, where he studied bacteriology and virology, before working as a microbiologist for 33 years, 22 of which were for the Royal Oldham Hospital. He was a Fellow of the Institute of Medical Laboratory Science

He was a Coucillor for Rochdale 1983-92, 1994-96, and Coucil leader 1996-97. In Parliament, he chaired the Pro Life Committee and was a member of the Involuntary Tranquillizer Addiction Group as well as the Transport Scrutiny Select Committee. He co-chaired the All Party Parliamentary Group for Child Health and Vaccine Preventable Diseases, and recently called for integrated healthcare for the developing world to help prevent diseases spreading and to improve sanitation. He voted against the same-sex marriage bill last year and spoke out against the plans in Parliament, saying: “I think MPs who voted for this change will rue the day they did so.”

Labour Party leader Ed Miliband said: “Jim’s death is a sad day for Parliament. He was a dedicated public servant, representing the people of Rochdale on the council and at Westminster for three decades. Working in the NHS for more than 30 years, Jim had a deep passion for helping others. A lifelong committed Catholic, Jim always took a lead in fostering links between the church and the Labour party, and his strong faith informed every aspect of his political and public life. This was recognised by Pope Benedict XVI when he appointed Jim a Knight of the Pontifical Order of St Gregory the Great.

Bishop Mark Davies on the false mercy of Assisted Suicide

The Bishop of Shrewsbury, the Rt Rev’d Mark Davies, has issued a Pastoral Letter, in which he warns against the far reaching implications for the elderly and most vulnerable in our society if the revised bill on Assisted Suicide, due to come before the House of Lords on 18th July, goes through.  The full text of the Pastoral Letter can be found below:

The False Mercy of Assisted Suicide

Catholic Schools Admissions Policy Debate in the House of Commons April 2014

Members and others may be interested in the following extract from Hansard, which covers a recent debate in the House of Commons on the admissions policy for Catholic (and other faith) Schools.

Catholic Schools admission debate 30 Apr 2014

The information and exchanges within the debate will provide useful material for anyone involved or interested in the provision of Catholic education in this country.  School Governors in particular are being asked to take on an increasingly visible role within the admissions and administrative processes of schools which they govern and will find the debate useful as additional source material.

Summary of the Parliamentary and Public Affairs Committee 14th January 2014

Chairman’s Announcements

David O’Mahony, a CU Council Member, was suggested as a prospective member of the Committee.

Synod Questionnaire on Family Life

Elizabeth Davis, Marriage and Family Life Project Officer of the Bishops’ Conference, gave a presentation on the Synod Questionnaire. It was not a survey but a consultation on experience. The online questionnaire was aimed at reaching those who did not go to church on Sundays. Since the responses had not yet been collected it was not possible to say how many there had been. However it had been taken up with enthusiasm. Many respondents stated had struggled to be faithful to the Church’s teaching. The objective was to help with setting the agenda for the next Synod of Bishops in Rome. It should not be seen as a prelude to a change in doctrine and it was hoped from a clear statement confirming this from the Bishops.

Correspondence

A letter had been written to the Prime Minister and the Dept. of Health regarding the proposal to allow the production of embryos with two mothers and one father (hoping to prevent mitochondrial disease in the child). The Chairman had written again to a named civil servant at the Department of Health about the dangers of this procedure and the lack of an ethical framework.  He would write again to Jeremy Hunt seeking an answer to his questions.

Parliamentary Lobbying Bill

The threshold for registration has been raised from £5,000 to £20,000 in England and from £2,000 to £10,000 in Wales, following a great deal of lobbying against the original proposals. The maximum has been raised to £450,000. Any higher figure will be deemed illegal. The “restricted period” has been reduced to 7.5 months. The courts can deem organisations to be cooperating without evidence. This could be an effect free speech. It is unlikely to affect the CU, given the budgets involved.

Plight of Syrian Refugees

As a result of a papal initiative the Holy See was bringing together the parties involved to discuss humanitarian relief (to both sides), a cease fire and finally a political settlement. The meeting deplored the government’s refusal to receive any refugees. Many Syrian refugees, in particular Christians, were in great danger and some, at least should be welcomed here.

Euthanasia

The CU is on the advisory group of Care not Killing (CNK), an alliance of some 40 organisations opposed to euthanasia. Margo Macdonald MSP, has sufficient signatures to introduce the Assisted Dying Scotland bill, despite the result to the consultation being 65% against. A “trained facilitator” could assist any mentally competent adult with a terminal condition. At Westminster, the Falconer Bill is to be reintroduced with softened wording. The Lords would not normally divide on a second reading but should be encouraged to do so, on this point of principle.

The Follow-on from the Liverpool Care Pathway (LACDP)

This LACDP consultation has no recognition of the need for a research base to underpin their recommendations. There is a suspicion that doctors will resort to familiar methods of treatment. To provide an alternative, the Medical Ethics Alliance has produced a document which the chairman had sent to the minister. The backlash against the LCP came from relatives, and doctors are now more cautious about using it for fear of being sued.

House of Lords Debate on end of life care 12th December 2013

This debate was initiated by Baroness Jolly on behalf of the Department of Health proposing that GPs should nominate the 1% of patients expected to die within the next 12 months in order to enable arrangements for their care to be discussed with them. The Government wishes to save money by keeping old people out of hospital since most people prefer to die at home. There were significant practical problems with this and the existence of a “death list” is extremely unhelpful.

MEA Conference on Mental Health and Abortion 21st November 2013

The topic “Mental health reasons for abortion – are there any?” Speakers were a consultant psychologist, a consultant psychiatrist, a GP and a lawyer. The conclusion was “no, there are not” and further, the Medical Colleges concluded abortion was of no benefit to mental health; stress and anxiety were not per se a threat to mental health. However the purpose of the conference was get the message out that what happens now is a charade. Doctors without mental health training or experience go through the requisite administration without asking any questions.. However there is now disquiet about the working of the Act from the gender imbalance caused by gender based abortion. The Dept of Health said only in 46% of cases, had one or both doctors actually seen the woman. The situation in the remaining 54% was uncertain and the DoH seems to have no interest in ensuring the figures were correct. The BPAS, which performs a majority of abortions, has a policy which states any unwanted pregnancy is grounds for abortion. This explicitly contradicts the official DoH policy.  MPs must ask hard questions to press home this point and so reveal the DoH’s real policy of abortion on demand.

“Rules for Migrants are a scandal” Archbishop Nicholls

The Archbishop h had strongly condemned a Government policy which prevented a UK citizen from bringing in a spouse from outside the EU unless s/he had an after tax income of over £18,500 p.a, well above the minimum wage. This led to families being split up and children being raised without one or other of their parents. The committee was not in agreement over this policy.

Any Other Business

Ministers want to replace anti-social behaviour orders in England and Wales with injunctions to prevent nuisance and annoyance. One man’s annoyance is another’s free speech and it was thrown out by the Lords 346 Votes to178.  The Government’s reaction waits to be seen.

 

 

Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster January 2014

The Catholic Union sends its warmest congratulations to the Archbishop of Westminster, The Most Reverend Vincent Nicholls, on the news of the Holy Father’s announcement today in Rome, that he is to be raised to the College of Cardinals at the forthcoming consistory in Rome on 22nd February.

Chairman Robert Rigby commented, “This is indeed a great day for the Church in England and Wales.  On behalf of the Catholic Union, I send my heartiest congratulations to Archbishop – Cardinal Elect – Vincent and assure him of our continued prayers and support for his ministry to the Church in this country”.

London, Feast of The Baptism of the Lord, 12th January 2014

Summary of the Parliamentary & Public Affairs Committee 17th December 2013

Chairman’s Announcements

Mrs Josephine Robinson, a former Chairman (sic) of the Association of Catholic Women was elected to the Committee.

Correspondence

A letter had been written to the Prime Minister and the Dept. of Health regarding the proposal to allow the production of embryos with two mothers and one father (hoping to prevent mitochondrial disease in the child). Two near identical replies had been received, referring to an imminent consultation and to a commission of “international experts” who said there was no concern for safety. However, IVF is known to increase the risk of birth defects, cancer and mental retardation. It is irresponsible to predict no risk with this even more radical procedure. The Chairman would write to Jeremy Hunt and to his own MP, questioning the safety of this procedure and seeking the identity of the “international experts”.

Same sex marriage in Scotland and Northern Ireland

The debate in the Scottish Parliament on this issue has been astonishingly abusive. It is expected that the SSM Bill will be approved by early March 2014. The Chairman is due to talk to the Political Officer of the Scottish Bishops conference. The Northern Ireland Assembly will not entertain SSM, but will accept as civil partners, those same sex couples married elsewhere in the UK.

Gender-based abortion

The Government stated that the law would be enforced, but has also said there are many grounds for seeking an abortion. It is unlikely that the Government will do anything in this regard.

Survey on Family Life

There had been 12,000 responses nationally to this Vatican survey. There was uncertainty about what the survey was intended to accomplish or what it was capable of accomplishing. It was thought it might be about how care is provided to people in family life, in particular, sacramental care from the Church.

Parliamentary Lobbying Bill

This Bill could obstruct free speech prior to General Elections. CAFOD is making a list of Part One Catholic lobbyists; Caritas Social Care of Part Two lobbyists with a view to joint approaches to the Government.

Extension of euthanasia in Belgium

The Belgian Parliament has passed legislation whereby children of 12 and below with terminal illness and unbearable pain could choose to die, or their parents and next of kin, where such consent is unavailable, could do so in their place When they are near to death, these children are claimed to increase in maturity. There were 1,132 cases of euthanasia in 2012; 25% up on 2011.We should note this lest attempts are made to introduce it in England. Other approaches to child euthanasia were the LCP and the Groningen protocol in the Netherlands.

Abortion on mental health grounds

The chairman had given a Parliamentary Question to Sir Edward Leigh. It said abortions were being carried out on Ground C (risk to the mother’s mental health) without mental health being assessed and by doctors not trained to assess mental health. There is a statement by the Academy of Royal Colleges that there is no difference to the mother’s mental health whether she has an abortion or gives birth What is currently going on is fraudulent.  It was suggested that the thrust of the argument should move away from time limits, to pointing out the number of fraudulent abortions being carried out in a local area, to make it real to people.  The late Phyllis Bowman (LIFE) used to say she would be perfectly content if the Abortion law were honoured. However, it would be necessary to convince juries that there is no risk to mental health. The CU and others should continue to raise awareness and press that Ground C be removed or at least observed.

Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill

This Bill provides that if a nuisance or annoyance is caused to any person, they can apply for an Injunction to Prevent Nuisance and Annoyance (or IPNAS). The Christian Institute has pointed out this could conceivably cover carol singing, street preaching, children playing football in the street. Local Authorities, police and private security firms can also hand out Public Spaces Protection Orders (PSPOs) in order to restrict any activity deemed to have a “detrimental effect on the quality of life of those in the locality”.  It was hoped that common sense would prevail in such cases.

Persecution of Christians – Westminster Hall Debate 3rd December

This debate was initiated by Jim Shannon MP (DUP). He said Christianity is the most persecuted religion at the present time. One Christian dies for their faith every eleven minutes. Persecution starts with discrimination in business, in civic life, education and politics. In some countries it was illegal to possess a Bible and there was forcible conversion to Islam. Sir Edward Leigh MP said that the worst crisis no one had ever heard of is in Pakistan. Western intervention could make things worse (lecturing by former colonial masters). However many countries persecuting Christians receive money from the UK Government.

Any other Business

Assisted Dying Bill – This had been shelved for now, but a more comprehensive version will be introduced in the next session of Parliament.  The Supreme Court is considering Article 8 rights to respect for private life for Nicklinson/Lamb.

Protection of the Vulnerable – NHS England had set up the LACDP (Leadership Alliance for the Care of Dying People) to advise the Secretary of State for Health by 6th January 2014, on what should replace the LCP. Dr Cole had met its chair, Dr Bee Wee, and had agreed that anyone entering hospital should have confidence that they would receive evidence-based treatment compassionately and ethically applied. “More Care Less Pathway” had been set up to counter it and seek a meeting with Norman Lamb MP, minister for health, to slow the process and give time for the counter views (now accepted by the BCEW) to be considered.

Growing Connections – the Catholic Union and Ampleforth

As announced elsewhere on the site, the Summer Gathering in July 2014 will be held over a weekend at Ampleforth Abbey in North Yorkshire.  As a prelude to this, the most recent edition of the  Ampleforth Diary, published earlier this month, carries a profile of both the Union and current Chairman, Robert Rigby.

Ampleforth Diary December 2013

Further details about the Summer Gathering will be circulated in the New Year.

 

Catholic Union says Religious Education Council report “inadequate”

The following press release was issued by the Catholic Union today, Wednesday 18th December 2013

A report on religious education by the Religious Education Council was criticised as “unrepresentative” and “inadequate” at a meeting of religious organisations and parliamentarians at the Palace of Westminster today.

The meeting consisted of those representing the Jewish, Muslim, Sikh, Catholic, Anglican, Evangelical and Free Church faiths.

“Very few mainstream faith groups were properly consulted for this report and yet it claims to be representative and to influence the RE curriculum”, said James Bogle, Vice-Chairman of the Catholic Union of Great Britain.

“Clearly the minister, Michael Gove, was misled into thinking otherwise, since he claims that it has been endorsed widely. As our meeting today shows, that is not so and there is considerable dissent from the report’s view.”

“The 1944 Education Act and the Standing Advisory Councils on Religious Education have provided an excellent framework for providing an education that families and communities can support and that promotes harmony and tolerance,” said Mr Bogle, “yet, without properly consulting the statutory bodies, this report claims to speak for mainstream faith communities whilst largely excluding them.”

The new working group will be producing an alternative report to submit to the All Party Parliamentary Group which will receive it in the New Year.

The new report is expected to say that Religious Education must be informed by the actual faith and practice of faith communities and should not be confused with a museum or “gold-fish bowl” approach that looks at religion as one might look at animals in a zoo rather looking at religion as a living faith.

“Religion is fundamental to the development of a young person’s culture and identity, their character and their ability to relate to others and wider society” said Mr Bogle.

He added “those who think that secular humanism is simply a neutral approach to religion overlook the fact that secularism is, itself, a belief system. To impose this belief-system upon faith communities is neither tolerant, nor respectful, nor just. Moreover, religious education is not merely religious studies.”

The new working group expects to produce an interim report in the New Year and then, later, a final report. The group will also be writing to the Secretary of State to express its dissatisfaction with the Religious Education Council’s report.