Pope Francis’s encyclical is focused on the idea of connecting care of the natural world with justice for the poorest and most vulnerable people. Only by radically reshaping our relationships with God, with our neighbours and with the natural world, he says, can we hope to tackle the threats facing our planet today. Click to view this encyclical which forms part of the Church’s social teaching.
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.
28th July 2014
The Bishop of Shrewsbury, the Rt Rev’d Mark Davies, has issued a Pastoral Letter, in which he warns against the far reaching implications for the elderly and most vulnerable in our society if the revised bill on Assisted Suicide, due to come before the House of Lords on 18th July, goes through. The full text of the Pastoral Letter can be found below:
A letter concerning the vital role played by Christianity both down the ages and today, written by CU Chairman, Robert Rigby, recently appeared in the Catholic Herald, following remarks by the Prime Minister on this subject over Easter.
The text can be viewed below:
Members and others may be interested in the following extract from Hansard, which covers a recent debate in the House of Commons on the admissions policy for Catholic (and other faith) Schools.
The information and exchanges within the debate will provide useful material for anyone involved or interested in the provision of Catholic education in this country. School Governors in particular are being asked to take on an increasingly visible role within the admissions and administrative processes of schools which they govern and will find the debate useful as additional source material.
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.
London, 13th April, Palm Sunday, 2014
In his speech at the Catholic Union AGM in November, CU President Lord Brennan (pictured above), drew attention to a report he co-authored, on end of life care, which can be read here: LDW – REPORT – ‘ASSISTED DYING’ AND THE LAW
This is an extremely pertinent topic at the present time, drawing as it does upon issues of human dignity, the right to life and end-of-life care.
The Bishop of Portsmouth has issued a commentary on Evangelii Gaudium:
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.
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
The annual Craigmyle Lecture took place on Monday 14th October at Notre Dame University, just off Trafalgar Square in London. The speaker was Field Marshal the Lord Guthrie of Craigiebank, leading Catholic, former Chief of the Defence Staff and a crossbencher in the House of Lords. The theme of his talk was the Just War, about which he has written in his book “The Just War Tradition: Ethics in Modern Warfare”, co-authored with Michael Quinlain.
The full text of the talk can be downloaded here: Just War – 2013
Catholic Union Chairman Robert Rigby, commented:
“The Craigmyle Lecture is one of the major events in the Catholic Union calendar. It is an occasion for members and others to come together, to discuss items of relevance and an opportunity for the Catholic Union to showcase an important area of its work and witness. We were extremely privileged to have a lecture and lecturer in Lord Guthrie, of such knowledge, integrity and topicality. Feedback from those who attended this year’s Lecture was very positive and is a useful guide for future events of this kind”.
A longer version of the talk appeared recently in the Catholic Herald as a feature item:
We can’t fight wars without Aquinas