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About Us

“…the Catholic Union is a trusted friend and partner in our task of supporting the Catholic community in this country and in making the message of Christ heard in this land.” Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster

The Catholic Union was founded in 1870. It is a membership organisation dedicated to the defence of Catholic values in Parliament and public life, and the promotion of the common good.

We carry out this work by:

  • Making representations to Parliament, to Government Departments or to other public authorities.
  • Taking action through members of either or both Houses of Parliament, the Scottish Parliament, or the Welsh Assembly, to ensure that Catholic views on matters affecting Catholic principles or interests are known, understood and taken into account.
  • Writing letters or making representations to the Press.
  • Organising public or private meetings.
  • Publishing information on Catholic matters.
  • Co-operating with other societies or organisations in the defence of Catholic principles.

We take inspiration from the principles set out in Pope Benedict XVI’s Address in Westminster Hall in 2010 where he said that “Religion, in other words, is not a problem for legislators to solve, but a vital contribution to the national conversation”. You can read more from his address below.

The Catholic Union is a lay organisation, however, it works with the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales (CBCEW) and the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Scotland (CBCS). It is a consultative body to the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales.

Membership of the Catholic Union is open to practising members of the Catholic laity in Great Britain and includes people from all parts of the country and all walks of life. It includes doctors, nurses, teachers, lawyers, and civil servants – we represent a wealth of lay Catholic experience and expertise.

The Catholic Union Charitable Trust is the Union’s charitable arm. It organises educational projects, lectures and discussions with prominent Catholics and others. 

The Catholic community is one of the largest communities in the country. There are
approximately 4.5 million Catholics in Britain today.

Read more about us in this briefing note.

Extract from Pope Benedict XVI’s Address

“The central question at issue, then, is this: where is the ethical foundation for political choices to be found? The Catholic tradition maintains that the objective norms governing right action are accessible to reason, prescinding from the content of revelation. According to this understanding, the role of religion in political debate is not so much to supply these norms, as if they could not be known by non-believers – still less to propose concrete political solutions, which would lie altogether outside the competence of religion – but rather to help purify and shed light upon the application of reason to the discovery of objective moral principles. This “corrective” role of religion vis-à-vis reason is not always welcomed, though, partly because distorted forms of religion, such as sectarianism and fundamentalism, can be seen to create serious social problems themselves. And in their turn, these distortions of religion arise when insufficient attention is given to the purifying and structuring role of reason within religion. It is a two-way process. Without the corrective supplied by religion, though, reason too can fall prey to distortions, as when it is manipulated by ideology, or applied in a partial way that fails to take full account of the dignity of the human person. Such misuse of reason, after all, was what gave rise to the slave trade in the first place and to many other social evils, not least the totalitarian ideologies of the twentieth century. This is why I would suggest that the world of reason and the world of faith – the world of secular rationality and the world of religious belief – need one another and should not be afraid to enter into a profound and ongoing dialogue, for the good of our civilization.

“Religion, in other words, is not a problem for legislators to solve, but a vital contributor to the national conversation.”

Read the full address.