Baroness Scotland of Asthal, former Attorney General and the first black and youngest woman to ever be appointed to Queen’s Counsel, has delivered the second Newman Lecture highlighting how the 19th Century Cardinal is a role model for everyone.
Speaking on Friday 8 February at the Notre Dame University just off Trafalgar Square in London the title of the Lecture was “A thinking Catholic: Some Definite Purpose”. The Baroness said:
“As a thinking Catholic, as someone who knew deeply that he was called to a ‘definite purpose’ in life, he [Newman] continues to speak to our generation today and inspires and challenges me, as a Christian journeying on my way in my time. In fact I believe, whether in the end you agree with him or not, Newman offers everyone an itinerary for thinking about faith and life.His writings are a map for all those trying to seek truth and make sense of life’s tapestry which can be very hard indeed to navigate at times, if you try to make that journey on your own.”
The Baroness added, reflecting on the example of her parents’ faith and what it means to have a definite purpose:
“Always my parents would say look for what joins you. Every person on this earth isGod’s child and you should look for him in the faces you see. Know that what you say and do to others you are saying and doing to him. You are not responsible for what others say and do but you are responsible for your reaction to them. That is within your control. God has given us each a talent and it is our job to find that talent, hone it and then use it for the benefit others. Through his grace all things are possible. It’s an approach that has stayed with me throughout my life. I am a woman of faith and am not ashamed to confess that all I have achieved in my life has been by his grace, every good thing has been by his inspiration and where I have failed it has been my own error.”
In 2003, Baroness Scotland was made Minister of State for Criminal Justice and Law Reform at the Home Office and, in 2007, she was appointed as Her Majesty’s Attorney General for England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Baroness Scotland has remained at the forefront of matters relating to law and reform. Whilst at the Home Office she was responsible for major reform of the criminal justice system, including the introduction of the Crime and Victims Act. She has won many awards in recognition of her achievements including being voted Peer of the Year, Parliamentarian of the Year and receiving a lifetime achievement award from Euromoney Legal Media Group. In 2008, The Guardian named Baroness Scotland the most powerful female black Briton.
Bishop Kieran Conry of Arundel and Brighton, Chair of the Bishops’ Conference Department for Evangelisation and Catechesis, said:
“Baroness Scotland gave a very moving and frank account of growing up as a black Catholic girl and how she carried this experience through into public life. Her conviction about her faith was clear and passionate and nobody could have been left unmoved by the way she spoke. I would hope that her story will be an inspiration for many people and an encouragement for any Catholic in England and Wales today.”
The Newman Lecture was offered in support of the legacy of the 2010 Papal Visit to the UK and is an initiative of the Bishops’ Conference Department for Evangelisation and Catechesis. The Baroness’ Lecture was the second of three; the first one was delivered by award-winning screenwriter, Frank Cottrell-Boyce.