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Catholic Union bids farewell to Sir Edward Leigh

The Catholic Union hosted a farewell reception for Sir Edward Leigh in Parliament this week.

Sir Edward served as President of the Catholic Union since 2014 and stood down at the end of last year. He is succeeded by Crossbench peer, Baroness Hollins.

Another former Catholic Union President, Lord Brennan, hosted the gathering in the House of Lords at which some of the Union’s strongest supporters along with parliamentarians, clergy, and people from other Catholic organisations were present.

Lord Brennan reflected that as an independent peer he sits alongside people such as the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Duke of Wellington, people whose faith and fortitude Sir Edward personifies.

Cardinal Vincent Nichols was guest of honour and the Papal Nuncio, Archbishop Miguel Maury Buendía, attended to present Sir Edward with a special Papal Message of thanks and blessing.

Acting Chairman of the Catholic Union, Richard Collyer-Hamlin thanked Sir Edward on behalf of the Union and reflected on whether we needed a new ‘Baz ball’ approach to Catholic advocacy, following in the example of the England cricket team.

Lord Alton delivered the main speech of the evening and spoke of how his friendship with Sir Edward had developed across the political divide on account of their shared faith.

He reflected on some of Sir Edward’s achievements, including helping to secure regular Catholic Masses in Parliament and being a founding member of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on the Holy See.

In response, Sir Edward remarked that being a Catholic in Parliament is like “swimming against the tide but we do our best and we keep trying…Our religion is quite difficult but it is life-affirming” he said, “especially in defending the rights of the unborn child and the rights of the elderly and vulnerable”.

He joined an illustrious list of former Catholic Union Presidents.