Irish continue to splash out on first Communions Report, page 34
Big Society chance for solidarity
THE ARCHBISHOP of Westminster Vincent Nichols has welcomed the Coalition Government’s Big Society initiative as an opportunity to build “greater solidarity” in Britain, writes Sam Adams. Archbishop Nichols said the flagship social
policy provided a chance to attract “a broad coalition of support” and to release “energy for local initiative and enterprise”. Speaking at a conference organised by Caritas Social Action Network – which acts as an umbrella organisation for Catholic char- ities in England and Wales – at St Mary’s University College, Twickenham, the Archbishop said the project would succeed only if it was taken “beyond party politics to become a common endeavour owned by society as a whole”. His comments contrasted with views
expressed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, who described the Big Society as a “stale” slogan in an article in last
week’s New Statesman magazine – which he was guest editing - and alleged that there was “widespread suspicion about the policy”. Dr Williams said the initiative, which is designed to give more control of services to local volunteer groups, is seen as a cover for spending cuts. He also raised concerns about the Coalition’s health, education and welfare reforms. David Burrowes MP, chairman of the
Conservative Christian Fellowship, claimed that Dr Williams “crossed the line into politics from the role of a church leader”. Contrasting the remarks on the Big Society by the Archbishop of Canterbury and Archbishop Nichols, he said: “The seeming divergence in opinion between Westminster and Canterbury is to be welcomed.” In his speech to the Caritas conference on
9 June, Archbishop Nichols said there was a risk that the Big Society could be viewed in “too mechanistic” a way, and seen solely in terms of what the state should or should not do.
He warned that the growth of subsidiarity – the deciding of issues at the lowest appro- priate level – cannot be achieved “simply by the withdrawal of the state”. He said this would require the creation of conditions for the “sustained flourishing of local initiative”.
(See Clifford Longley page 8.) Cafod warns Government over targeted aid
THE CATHOLIC Agency for Overseas Development (Cafod) has warned the Government against using humanitarian aid as a political tool, writes Sam Adams. Speaking this week ahead of the
Government’s response to Lord Ashdown’s review of Britain’s response to humanitarian crises, Matthew Carter, humanitarian director for Cafod, said donor governments should not “pick and choose” which crises deserve funding simply to meet political or security objectives, but should instead base their deci- sions on the needs of the populations affected. He said he fears British humanitarian aid
policy, coordinated by the Department for International Development (Dfid), is currently “on the edge” of taking this path, meaning countries deemed of less direct strategic importance could be overlooked for funding. Later in the week, Secretary of State for
International Development Andrew Mitchell issued a statement saying: “the Government is committed that our humanitarian aid must continue to be delivered on the basis of need and need alone. We will honour our inter - national commitments that firmly root our response in the principles of humanity, neutrality and impartiality.”
Conference called off Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice has cancelled its annual conference at Westminster Central Hall today after the hall’s Methodist own- ers objected to the main speakers. The group had invited theologian Fr Paul Kramer and Robert A. Sungenis, a conservative American Catholic, to address its mem- bers. The Revd Tim Swindell, executive chairman of the hall, said there was concern that the speakers would express viewsthat were not in accordance with Methodist or Catholic doctrine. The two speakers were invited after Cardinal Raymond Burke, prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, withdrew.
Birthday honours Two people have been honoured by the Queen in recognition of their work during the papal visit. Jenny Wynne, who works in the Cabinet Office, and George Edgar – the former head of the papal visit team at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office who is currently interim chargé d’affaires to the Holy See – both received OBEs in Her Majesty’s Birthday honours list.
Praise for Fr Ryan The Archbishop-elect of Cardiff, George Stack, paid tribute to long-serving priest Fr Joe Ryan in his last official engagement in Westminster. Bishop Stack said Fr Ryan has been “a prophetic voice” on social jus- tice during his 40 years as a priest in the Diocese of Westminster, in his homily at a celebration Mass at St John Vianney Church in West Green, north London.
Protest over morning-after pill The Catholic Church in Wales has expressed concern over a trial scheme which supplies free morning-after abortifacient pills to girls – including under-16s. Following a rolling programme started in 2001, the morning-after pill has been available free from pharmacies in Wales since April.
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