Cardinal Vincent Nichols, President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales and Patron of CSAN, Caritas Social Action Network, called on parliament to learn from the Church’s hands-on approach to tackling the reality of poverty in the UK.
“A crucial part of serving society, whether through the calling of politics or through the Church, is to face the reality before us. This is where rhetoric ends, where philosophy gives way to reality, where dogmatism gets its hands dirty. For us this is what being a Church of the poor and for the poor really means. Our self-awareness is sharp; our sense of purpose is clear. Perhaps governments could take a lead from this too.”
His call came this afternoon, when over 170 parliamentarians, representatives from leading Catholic charities and faith-based agencies gathered for CSAN’s fourth annual parliamentary reception in the Houses of Parliament, on the timely date of 5 November.
Highlighting the issue of poverty in working households, the Cardinal stressed the impact of zero-hours contracts, the limitations of a minimum wage and the discrepancy between incomes and basic living costs, stating that work must be properly paid if families are to find a way out of poverty.
Cardinal Nichols set out the Catholic vision for society:
“What is crucial in our times is the question of what kind of society we want to build. Many are uncertain. Many are fearful. We are not. We know. We are committed to our task”.
He thanked the CSAN network for the ‘extraordinary work’ of the charities who transform the lives of thousands of people across England and Wales:
“You help to house the homeless. You help to keep families together through relationship support. You act as a lifeline for those seeking asylum. Together, as a Church, we embody what it means to love our neighbour and work towards human flourishing”.
You can read/download the Cardinal’s address to guests at the 2014 CSAN Parliamentary Reception by using the link to the right of this page.
CSAN (Caritas Social Action Network) is the domestic social action arm of the Catholic Church in England and Wales. CSAN comprises over 42 Catholic Charities which work across England and Wales supporting children living in poverty, homeless people, disabled people, Travellers, migrants, refugees, prisoners and other marginalised groups
CSAN’s Parliamentary Reception took place from 1-3pm on Wednesday 5 November in the Terrace Pavilion in the House of Commons. The reception was hosted by Eric Ollerenshaw MP and addressed by Cardinal Vincent Nichols and Rt. Hon Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and Minister for Faith.