Tag Archives: eminent Catholics

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.

A North Yorkshire Interlude – the Catholic Union Summer Gathering 2014

The Summer Gathering this year took place at Ampleforth Abbey in Yorkshire.  Here, Robert RIgby, Chairman of the CU and an Old Amplefordian, shares his reflections on the weekend:

This year’s Catholic Union summer gathering took place at Ampleforth from Friday 25 – Sunday 27 July 2014. It was attended by some 25 Catholic Union members with a good mix of members from both the north and south of the country. This was the first time in many years that this hasevent moved beyond the Home Counties and judging by the reaction, it will not be long before it once again is taken into the regions.

Ampleforth provided a perfect backdrop – allowing both the formal side of the occasion to proceed which included discussions on the strategy of the CU and issues of the day, as well as a spiritual element ensuring members could tap into the monastic offices of the day including Matins at 6am….

The main business was carried out on Saturday 26 July with the conference getting off to a spiritual and thought provoking start with Fr Terence Richardson OSB, the Prior, providing a talk , The Prophetic Voice  The Prior highlighted the prophet as one who sees the truth and tells the truth and referred to the criticism of the current church as a sign of health. The presence of the prophetic in the secular world is a sign of a healthy society.

Lord Brennan, attending his final conference as President, (he steps down in November after 12 years at the helm) provided his usual enlightening take on the issues of the day, as well as those affecting the CU. These are momentous times he said, life is changing fast and the challenges we face are complicated but not insurmountable. He talked about three key issues – Parliament & Public Life, Society Today and the Future and offered some wise council on how the CU should position itself going forward as well as ideas on increasing our membership base in an ever secular and demanding world.

In the afternoon members engaged in an open discussion on the role of the CU in today’s society. Robert Rigby, Chairman set the scene by providing members with feedback on a meeting he had held with Cardinal Nichols in April. Dr Tony Cole, Chairman of the Parliamentary Affairs Committee, summarised some of the key issues facing Catholics today and issues either currently debated or about to be on the agenda in Parliament. Both these talks set off a chain of lively discussions which also included Faith Schools and the ever increasing attack being waged against them.

The day ended with a jovial dinner attended by Fr Christopher Gorst, Sub Prior.

On Sunday members attended High Mass, before enjoying a final get together over coffee in the main hall with parishioners and members of the wider local community around Ampleforth.

Robert Rigby

28th July 2014

 

Robert Rigby, Fr Terence (Prior), Lord Brennan, John Barrie

Robert Rigby, Fr Terence (Prior), Lord Brennan, John Barrie

Members of the CU at Ampleforth

Members of the CU at Ampleforth

 

 

 

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

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.

 

Canadian Catholic as Governor of the Bank of England

Posted 1/7/13
Mark Carney, the Canadian Central banker, appointed by George Osborne, to be Governor of the Bank of England, comes from a Catholic family in Alberta, where he was educated before going on to Harvard and Oxford. He began his career at Goldman Sachs, before taking positions in the Canadian Department of Finance and then serving as both deputy Governor and Governor of the Bank of Canada.
This is the first time someone from outside the United Kingdom has been appointed to this post and Mr Carney is also the first Catholic Governor. The Catholic Union wishes him every success in his new and important role both for this country and the wider global economy