Following the Queen’s Speech on Thursday 19 December, the Catholic Union has issued the response below.
“There is much to welcome in the Queen’s Speech, not least a commitment to protect those persecuted for their faith and implement the recommendations of the Truro report. This is something the Catholic Union has been calling for. The Government must now put words into action and show that promoting religious freedom around the world is a key foreign policy objective.
Please click below to see some questions about religious freedom to ask your parliamentary candidates in the forthcoming General Election.
Ask Your Candidate Letterhead
Each of the three main parties has been accused of discriminating against people with religious beliefs. There appears to be an alarmingly low level of understanding of the nature of a religious belief and about what it means to respect the beliefs and consciences of others.
The Catholic Union has therefore formulated three questions for you to ask your parliamentary candidates. It also sets out some facts for discussion should you wish to use them.
The Catholic Union has called for a manifesto commitment from the three main, national parties to tackle religious persecution.
Writing to Boris Johnson, Jeremy Corbyn, and Jo Swinson, the Catholic Union has called for freedom of religion or belief to be at the heart of government policy, whoever who wins the election.
The Catholic Union has specifically called for a commitment to implement the recommendations of a recent report into Christian persecution, carried out by the Bishop of Truro.
The Prime Minister’s Special Envoy for Freedom of Religion or Belief, Rehman Chishti, has praised the contribution of the Catholic Church to tackling religious persecution.
Speaking at a talk hosted by the Catholic Union on 7 November, Mr Chishti said that the Church and Catholic charities like Aid to the Church in Need are helping to provide information on the ground in some of the worst affected places. He also drew on the words of Saint John Henry Newman – lead kindly light – as inspiration for tackling religious persecution.
The event at Mary Moorfields Church in Moorgate began with a talk from the Bishop of Truro, Philip Mounstephen, who led a recent report into Christian persecution.
Bishop Philip said that whilst he had been asked to lead the report by the Archbishop of Canterbury, he saw this as an ecumenical project and praised the contribution of Catholics to the review. He said that persecution of Christians was a “bellwether” for other forms of discrimination, both religious and other types. Continue reading
The State Opening of Parliament and Queen’s Speech took place on Monday 14 October.
Head of Public Affairs, James Somerville-Meikle, commented: “It’s good to see the Domestic Abuse Bill carried over from the last Parliament – this contains a number of important measures, but the Government must ensure that a Bill designed to help victims of domestic abuse, does not get hijacked by arguments about abortion. We will study Bills on divorce and sentencing carefully.
“Encouragement for EU nationals to remain here after Brexit is a step in the right direction. We know that many people from EU countries who have built lives in this country – and become a valued part of church communities across the country – have secured the right to remain. But many have not. Warm words from the Government need to be backed up by practical and pro-active policies to help people who want to stay.
“There was no mention of faith schools, tackling religious persecution or ending homelessness. We will be calling for manifesto commitments in these areas from all main parties ahead of the election, to make sure they are not overlooked.”
The Catholic Union’s annual Craigmyle Lecture was delivered this year by the Labour peer and founder of Blue Labour, Lord Glasman.
Lord Glasman addressed Catholic Union members and friends at the University of Notre Dame’s London campus near Trafalgar Square on Thursday 10 October about “Catholic Social Thought and the Economics of the Common Good”
Lord Glasman said it was “extremely generous” for someone who is not Catholic to be invited to give a talk on Catholic social teaching. But he stressed the universal appeal of Catholic social thought, and reminded his audience of the role of the Church in the development of the Labour movement in Britain. “Catholic social thought is in exile in this country and it is time for it to come home”, he said.
The talk also touched on Brexit and Lord Glasman said that the “abandonment of Catholic values which had been at the heart of the EU” had helped to create a disconnect between people and politics in Europe. He described this moment as a time of change which was “disturbing and frightening to many people.”
Catholic Union Head of Public Affairs, James Somerville-Meikle commented: “This was a fantastic talk from someone who knows the Labour movement inside out in this country. It was a timely reminder of the importance of Catholic Social Teaching to people across the political spectrum, in our past and hopefully in our future. At a time when our politics can often be focused on the short term – this was good to be reminded about what our politicians should be striving to achieve: dignity in work, fair markets, and a more even distribution of wealth. We are extremely grateful to Lord Glasman for his insights into this fascinating time in politics.”
The text of Lord Glasman’s talk is available here: Catholic Social Thought and the Economics of the Common Good
The Catholic Union has called on the Prime Minister to include a commitment to promote freedom of religion or belief as part of its programme for Government. See below:
Queen’s Speech commitment (1)
This submission to Parliament’s Women and Equalities Committee opposing the Westminster Parliament legislating on abortion for Northern Ireland was made on 8 December 2018 but was not published at that time due to the rules of the Committee. The Committee’s Report has now issued and is on Parliament’s website (www.parliament.uk). The Report contains within it a “minority report” proposed by Eddie Hughes MP which reflects some of the views in our submission.
Abortion in NI Submission to WEC
This Catholic Union submission was made in December and has just been published on the website of the Women and Equalities Committee. It can therefore now be made public.
Abortion in NI Submission to WEC