Tag Archives: Catholic Union

Chairman’s New Year Message 2015

2014 has been another year of significant note for Catholics. In March the legislation Marriage – Same Sex Couples – Act which was passed by Parliament in July 2013 came into force allowing anyone who is registered in a civil partnership to have the ability to convert this partnership into a marriage. As of December same-sex couples already in a civil partnership can decide to remain in the legal status or convert to a marriage. Much has been written and continues to be written about this divisive legislation which to Catholics seems to water down the great sacrament of Marriage.

In February there was much joy as Archbishop Vincent Nichols became a Cardinal.  The new Cardinal as is traditional was also appointed titular bishop to a church in Rome with Cardinal Nichols being assigned to the church of The Most Holy Redeemer and St Alphonsus. Following his appointment I had a meeting with him in April and he reaffirmed his support and encouragement to the Catholic Union and the work we do to promote catholic values in public life.

In November at our AGM we  said goodbye to Lord Brennan who stepped down as our President. Lord Brennan has been a beacon of support to us all in the CU and has been a voice of common sense when speaking in the House of Lords. He has provided much needed guidance and support throughout his 12 years as President and will be sorely missed. We were able to formally thank him on 10 November when a farewell dinner was held in his honour at the RAF Club attended by many friends and members of the Union. As we all know when one door closes another opens and we are fortunate to have Sir Edward Leigh MP who agreed and was formally elected as our new President at the AGM. Sir Edward brings a wealth of experience and is a strong advocate of Catholic values and will be a real asset as we move the Union forward widening its appeal and membership base.

While talking of new appointments Bishop John Arnold was appointed the new Bishop of Salford in the autumn which was welcomed far and wide but it did mean we lost our Ecclesiastical Advisor. I have written to the Cardinal and we are awaiting news on who will be appointed as his replacement and once known we will inform our members accordingly.

And it was with great sadness we learnt of the death of Jim Dobbin MP in September one of our Vice Presidents and a great supporter, he will be missed. However at the AGM we re-elected and elected a number of new Vice Presidents and we hope they will provide the support and voice we need both in Parliament and the wider community.

In 2014 we formally had news from the Charitable Commission of our Charitable status for the Catholic Union Charitable Trust (CUCT). This will now enable us to utilise Gift Aid and all our activity except lobbying will come under the CUCT.

These activities approved for the CUCT will include Education ,Training and Religious activities including the holding of seminars, lectures, discussion groups and the implementation of a social media campaign as well as working closely with other Catholic organisations. The CUCT will formally be launched on 10 February at a reception to be held at Southwark Cathedral courtesy of Archbishop Peter Smith when it is hoped we will attract some 100 prominent Catholics.

The pursuit of the Common Good in Public Life remains the core focus of the Catholic Union and our various committees as we work towards that end. Our Committees remain at the heart of our work and I would again like to record my thanks to all those who serve on a Committee, those members who take an active interest in the Union and Noelle and Gaye in the office for their commitment and support.

The Catholic Union continues to work with members in both Houses to raise issues of the day which affect our Catholic way of life via the Parliamentary & Public Affairs Committee under the excellent Chairmanship of Dr Tony Cole. The past year they discussed and submitted papers on a wide range of issues including Assisted Suicide, Abortion by Midwives, Same Sex Marriage, Modern Slavery to name a few.

Mike Henderson has completed a full year as Chair of the CUCT Executive Committee which takes in membership, fund-raising and communications. Our website has been further updated and refined so please do visit the site http://catholicunion.org.uk

The Craigmyle lecture which is our showcase event of the year saw Ann Widdecombe speak on ‘Faith & Public Life’ to over 100 CU members and guests where she took a closer look at the interaction between faith and politics and the role of faith in modern public life. And thanks are due to John Barrie our Vice Chairman for securing Sir Rocco Forte who has agreed to deliver the 2015 Craigmyle lecture on 13th October 2015 around ‘Faith in Business’ so please make a note of this date in your diary.

Work continues apace on gaining new members with a new strategy of outreach to initially a select number of Dioceses, making contact with the relevant Bishop and then filtering down to the parish network within that Diocese. Also there are plans to update the leaflet entitled ‘Restoring Faith in Public Life’ with the aim to distribute this across the parishes in the UK as well as sending it to all prospective members of Parliament who are standing in the May General Election.

In November  Priscilla Sharp became Chairman of the newly reformed CUCT Education Committee in succession to Stuart Sexton and oversee the first of what is hoped will be a series of lectures around educational issues with Fr Michael Holman delivering a speech on 4 December entitled ‘How Can We Help Young People Grow in Their Faith in Jesus and in Their Commitment to the Church?’.

The Catholic Union has a great track record and we owe it our forebears who had the foresight to establish the Union back in 1870 to expand our reach and to remain a strong voice for Catholics in Public Life providing support and encouragement to Catholics aiming to keep the flame of common good alive in today’s ever secular world. As usual, I appeal to all members to help us in enhancing the influence of the Catholic Union by recommending potential new members.

Finally, may I take this opportunity to wish you and your families a peaceful and prosperous New Year.

Robert Rigby

29th  December 2014

 

 

 

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.

Easter Message from the Chairman 2014

Pope Benedict XVI wrote ‘Every day Christians must face a struggle similar to the one that Christ underwent in the dessert of Judea where for forty days he was tempted …. it is a spiritual battle one that involves the whole of the person and demands attentive and constant watchfulness’.  I think these words are apt at this time of the year and remind us that we all struggle during daily life especially when it comes to taking on extra responsibilities and duties.

The momentum around the work of the Catholic Union is gathering pace as our Committees, especially the newly formed Membership & Fundraising Committee and the Education  Committee start to kick in on the tremendous work they are doing.  We are building the blocks for the future.  Plans are already underway to expand our working partnership with the Church at both parish and Diocesan level.  More about this initiative will be posted in due course and discussed at the Summer Gathering.

The Catholic Union Charitable Trust is to be formally launched shortly, helping in our fundraising activity as it will allow us to claim the Gift Aid back on any donations received.  The CUCT will be the umbrella under which most of our seminar/lecture programmes sit, including our educational seminars and the Craigmyle Lecture which this year is on 14 October, and will be given by Ann Widdecombe DSG

We have begun and continue to build closer collaboration with Good Works, a small group whose principles are to create a framework for business activity, by looking at the value of people in the business environment around the Common Good helping to promote businesses in a broader context as an active body of the community.  They have a programme of seminars promoting the tenets of Catholic Social Teaching in the workplace in collaboration with the CUCT.  This is a good starting point for the wider range of seminars that the CUCT will be organising over the coming year.

Our President, Lord Brennan, is stepping down in November after giving many years service and a special dinner in his honour has been arranged for 10 November at the RAF Club, Piccadilly.  This dinner will also offer a great opportunity to invite prospective members of the Catholic Union, so I would encourage you to not only put this date in your diary but also look around at friends, fellow parishioners, colleagues and family members who you feel could potentially become members of the CU; we need to increase our membership if we are to grow and become more influential.

Finally, this year’s Summer Gathering is travelling north to Ampleforth Abbey (25 – 27 July) which I am hoping will attract our CU members who are located in the north of England. More details can be found on our website and the weekend will offer us an opportunity to recharge and reinvigorate not only our Catholic Union batteries but our spiritual ones as well. As we will be in a Benedictine setting, I thought it appropriate to sign off this Easter message with words from the Rule of St Benedict who said ‘ And let us be assured that it is not in saying a great deal that we shall be heard (Matt 6:7), but in purity of heart…..’

I wish you and your families a very happy and holy Easter.

Robert Rigby

 

London, 13th April, Palm Sunday, 2014

The New Archbishop of Liverpool

The Catholic Union of Great Britain welcomes with great enthusiasm, the Holy Father’s announcement last Friday, 21st March 2014, of his appointment of the Rt Rev’d Malcolm McMahon OP, Bishop of Nottingham, as Archbishop-Elect of Liverpool.

Reacting to this news, Catholic Union Chairman Robert Rigby said “The news of Archbishop-elect Malcolm’s appointment is wonderful for the people and clergy of Liverpool.  The new Archbishop brings with him a pastoral zeal and intellectual rigour, reflecting his Dominican background, which will be of immense service in his new responsibilities.  Traditionally the Archdiocese of Liverpool has been a stronghold of Catholic life and values – in our increasingly secular society, the voice of the Catholic laity, in partnership with the clergy, is one that needs to be heard.  The Catholic Union looks forward to working with the Archbishop-Elect in the months and years ahead.”

Catholic Union Summer Gathering July 2014

Ampleforth - the Abbey Church from the Valley

Ampleforth Abbey Church – consecrated 1962

Outline information and a booking form are now available for this year’s Summer Gathering which will take place at Ampleforth Abbey, by kind permission of the Abbot and Community from the evening of Friday 25th July until the morning of Sunday 27th July.  Further details are available below in both PDF and Word formats:

Ampleforth Summer Gathering Information and Booking Form

 

Chairman’s New Year Message 2014

Robert Rigby

Robert Rigby, Chairman

As 2013 comes to an end we can reflect on quite a year.  We have a new Pope, and, nearer home, a  new Archbishop of St Andrews & Edinburgh as well as several new Bishops in various dioceses across the United Kingdom.  All, it seems, is change.  Yet there are constants.  The pursuit of the Common Good in public life remains the core focus of the Catholic Union and in this regard it has been a busy year.  Much groundwork has begun in 2013 across the Committees and I would like to mention in particular, the newly-constituted Education Committee.  This Committee will be the vanguard of the Catholic Union Charitable Trust, organising seminars and lectures on Catholic education at all levels.  Stuart Sexton brings to the Chairman’s role a wealth of experience in both education and politics and will set the Committee on a good course.

The new charitable arm of the Catholic Union, the CUCT, will allow us to develop education based projects, whilst being an additional source of income within a charitable umbrella, which has not been possible up till now.  A new website for the CUCT is under construction and will link from the main Catholic Union website.

One major issue over the past year has been the Liverpool Care Pathway and its demise, following the recommendations contained in the Neuberger Report, published last summer.  Tony Cole, Philip Howard and others worked really hard to ensure that the full facts surrounding the LCP were available and understood.  It is, however crucially important that the LCP does not come back under another guise – such as presumed consent, or something similar.  The Catholic Union will continue to work with members in both Houses during the coming year to ensure that this can be avoided, as well as raising other issues of the day which affect our Catholic way of life.

Growing our membership base continues to be a priority.  Late in the autumn of 2013, we had an inaugural talk by Mike Henderson on the CU at the end of a lunchtime Mass at St Mary Moorfields in the City of London.  We hope to build on this in 2014, with more post Missam talks planned as well as the Summer Gathering at Ampleforth (25 – 27 July), together with a drinks reception for members and friends.

In his speech at the AGM, our President Lord Brennan encouraged us to undertake more activities, as well as producing more in the way of written materials.  We will be exploring this idea in greater detail over the coming months.  This combined with the work of the Outreach Committee in sourcing new donors for the work of the Catholic Union and the Catholic Union Charitable Trust, will enable us to develop a truly national reach, with an appropriate infrastructure and development plan over the next 5 to 10 years.

The Catholic Union has a great provenance and we have an opportunity to reinvigorate its activities.  It is because of you, our members, that we are able to move things forward and as always, I encourage you to get involved at whatever point you feel able.  We live in challenging times, but times that nevertheless present an opportunity to engage in the public square for the Common Good.

Finally may I take this opportunity to wish you and your families, a peaceful and prosperous New Year.

Robert Rigby

 

 

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.

 

The Catholic Union AGM 2013 and the Catholic Union Charitable Trust

At the Annual General Meeting of the Catholic Union, held on 21st November 2013 in London, Robert Rigby was re-elected as Chairman for a further year.  At the same time, John Barrie, a long –serving member of the CU Council was elected one of the vice- chairmen, together with Jamie Bogle.  Retiring vice chairman, Dr Tony Cole, remains chairman of the Parliamentary and Public Affairs Committee.

Robert Rigby

Robert Rigby, Chairman

James Bogle, Vice Chairman

James Bogle, Vice Chairman

John Barrie, Vice Chairman

John Barrie, Vice Chairman

 

 

Tony Cole

Dr Tony Cole

Chairman Robert Rigby said “I want to pay tribute to Tony Cole for his tireless commitment to the Catholic Union and to thank him for all he has done as vice chairman.  His sterling work in helping to bring about the demise of the Liverpool Care Pathway, must surely stand as his lasting legacy and is a shining example of his integrity and desire to promote the Common Good.  I am very pleased to be able to welcome John Barrie to one of the vice chairmanships.  Along with Jamie Bogle, he brings a wealth of invaluable knowledge and experience to the position”.

Also at the AGM, the Catholic Union Charitable Trust (CUCT) was formally endorsed by the membership.  The Catholic Union will build a series of high profile events, which bring to the public arena social, moral and ethical issues of the day under the umbrella of the Catholic Union Charitable Trust (Registered Charity No 1137317) which will allow the Catholic Union to add a Gift Aid element to its fundraising activity.    Robert Rigby commented: “These seminars and open discussions will showcase Catholic social action and Catholic social teaching including education and moral responsibilities in today’s ever secular world.  As the voice of Catholic laity in this country, we are uniquely positioned to undertake this sort of activity, building on our established provenance, capabilities and support of our membership as well as developing partnerships with other interested bodies.  2014 is going to be a year of real growth and development for us”.

This will also be supported by an active Public Relations campaign with special emphasis developing and implementing a social media strategy which positions the Catholic Union at the heart of the debates around social and moral issues of the day.

The Chairman’s speech can be downloaded here:  Catholic Union AGM Speech Nov 13