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Head of Public Affairs, James Somerville-Meikle, writes:

Temperatures have been rising in Westminster this week – with the climax of the heat wave likely to coincide with the end of this first stage of the Conservative leadership contest early next week. Two candidates will be whittled down from the five remaining contenders – Kemi Badenoch, Penny Mordaunt, Rishi Sunak, Liz Truss and Tom Tugendhat – which includes two baptised Catholics and someone married to a Catholic (see if you can guess). The contest has already opened up some wide fault lines between the candidates on various policies, showing just how important the outcome of the vote will be for the Conservative party and the country. Catholics who have a vote in the next stage of the contest as part of the 175,000 membership base of the Conservative party should choose carefully. The Catholic Union will continue to keep our members and supporters informed as the contest goes on. 

CATHOLIC UNION
 
Equality and Human Rights: Opportunities, Challenges and Conflicts.  Please join us on Monday 18 July at 7.30pm for our Catholic Union Webinar with Alasdair Henderson, a barrister and Commissioner of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, who will talk about its work and give an insider’s insight into the difficult and controversial issues with which it deals.  No need to register but please use this zoom link.

Please click the link below to join the webinar:https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82463478023?pwd=bm5NNXdFZ3pwcE1sRlBzdVFaeHMzZz09Passcode: 384907 Webinar ID: 824 6347 8023 Passcode: 384907

Catholic Union Summer Gathering.  The Catholic Union Summer Gathering will take place on Saturday 23 July at St Mary’s College, Oscott, near Birmingham.  Members attending will hear more about the Catholic Union’s work and see the beautiful Pugin chapel and other treasures of Oscott. Tickets are £28 per person, which includes lunch, refreshments and a tour.  Any last minute enquiries to Nigel Parker at director@catholicunion.org.uk. 
 
Craigmyle Lecture 2022, Monday 19 September 18.30. Baroness Hollins will deliver the annual Catholic Union Craigmyle Lecture on "Keeping Children and Vulnerable Adults Safe - Insights from the Vatican" at the University of Notre Dame. In person and live streamed.  Followed by a Drinks Reception. Registration details to follow.
 
Annual General Meeting, 16 November.  The Catholic Union’s AGM will take place at the London Jesuit Centre (Aula Magna), Farm Street, London on Wednesday 16 November at 18.45. More details to follow.
 
Catholic Union Drinks. Thank you to those who managed to brave the hot weather for drinks on Tuesday.  It was an enjoyable evening and lots to discuss given the current political situation. Please do check out our Twitter, Instagram and Facebook pages for photos of the event. 

ASSISTED SUICIDE
 
Synod vote on Assisted suicide. Following the Westminster Hall debate on Assisted Dying on 4 July and a Synod motion and debate (289 in favour, 25 against and 33 abstentions) the General Synod called for more funding for palliative care and current legislation on assisted suicide to remain unchanged.
 
CHILD TRAFFICKING
 
Mo Farah. Cardinal Vincent Nichols has thanked Sir Mo Farah for coming forward with his story of being trafficked into the UK as a young child and held in domestic servitude.
 
EQUALITY
 
Dicastery of Bishops. On 13 July Pope Francis named three women to the Dicastery of Bishops, the Vatican office responsible for evaluating new members of the Catholic Church’s hierarchy. The two religious sisters and one consecrated virgin are the first women to ever be named members of the Dicastery.
 
Forstater Rehearing.  Last week, after rehearing her claim the Employment Tribunal upheld part of Ms Maya Forstater’s complaint in relation to her belief that “biological sex is real, important, immutable and not to be conflated with gender identity”. In Ms M Forstater v CGD Europe & Ors [2022] UKET 2200909/2019, it held that CGD’s decision not to offer Ms Forstater an employment contract and not to renew her unpaid visiting fellowship role in March 2019 had been direct discrimination related to her “gender-critical” beliefs, while her complaint that she had been victimised after being removed from a company website was “well-founded”. The other parts of her claim were dismissed.
 
EVENTS
 
Anscombe Bioethics Centre.  On Thursday 21 July at 7pm the Anscombe Bioethics Centre will hold a zoom event and the session will include questions (submitted by donors) on the Battersbee case, Roe v Wade, the current view regarding COVID vaccines and assisted suicide. An expert panel will be on hand to answer the questions.

Little Bits of God Artwork and Tour.  On Monday 18 July at 2pm there is a unique opportunity to view and have a brilliant explanation of a new mosaic polyptych of the Bible story from Genesis to Revelation by the person who commissioned this artwork, Fleur Dorrell. The polyptych is on display in the chapel at Newman University or you can watch a stunning 360 virtual experience.  For more information please click here.
 
FREEDOM OF RELIGION
 
Freedom of Religion or Belief.  You can watch the proceedings of last week’s Ministerial conference here.
 
UN Human Rights Council. Nazila Ghanea, of Oxford University, has been appointed by the Human Rights Council as Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief.
 
NORTHERN IRELAND
 
Education. In judicial review proceedings brought against the Department of Education on behalf of a seven year old girl who attends a school in Belfast, the High Court ruled last Tuesday that the current arrangements for Religious Education and Collective Worship in Schools were in breach of Convention rights. Read a summary of the judgment here.
 
PRISONS
 
Prison Advice and Care Trust (PACT). On 11 July the Catholic Union attended an event in Parliament run by PACT where the interim evaluation report about the Together a Chance pilot scheme was presented. The aim of the project is to reduce the number of children being taken into care when a mother goes to prison.  It seeks to implement a key recommendation of Lord Farmer’s 2019 Review that the Ministry of Justice should fund an on-site social worker as part of the multi-disciplinary team within each women’s prison. You can watch a video about the pilot scheme. 
Watch a video about the PACT pilot scheme.
WESTMINSTER
 
Cost of Living. On 13 July Baroness Lister of Burtersett (Lab) introduced a short debate in the House of Lords focusing on cost of living and low income families with children. Baroness Hollins asked whether the Minister agreed that one of the most effective ways that financial support could be provided to larger families would be to scrap the two child limit on universal credit payments.  In response Baroness Stedman-Scott said that the two child limit on universal credit was the subject of much debate, including the Bishop of Durham’s Private Member’s Bill, and much angst for many people. She pledged to keep everything under review.
 
Leadership. At the time of writing, Rishi Sunak, Liz Truss, Penny Mordaunt, Kemi Badenoch and Tom Tugendhat have all made it onto the ballot paper after securing the backing of 20 or more of their colleagues. This weekend there will be televised debates followed by another vote by Conservative MPs on Monday. The Catholic Union is monitoring the situation and will be reaching out to the candidates.
 
The Independent has written about the Tory leadership candidates views on abortion rights.
 
Schools Bill [HL]. On 12 July the Schools Bill [HL] went through Report Stage in the House of Lords.  Peers voiced concerns about the progress of the Bill given the vacuum of leadership, including three Education Secretaries in as many days. The debate will continue.
 
Transgender Conversion Therapy. On 13 July Dr Rupa Huq MP (Lab) Ealing Central & Acton introduced a short debate on transgender conversion therapy.  Dr Huq questioned the Government as to whether they had completed an equalities assessment of the exclusion of transgender conversion therapy in their forthcoming legislative proposals on conversion therapy.  In response Amanda Solloway MP, Minister for Equalities, said that as the Government prepared legislation to ban conversion practices it continued to assess equality impacts in relation to all protected characteristics, including gender reassignment.  She reiterated that the Government intended to introduce a ban that protected everyone who attempted to change their sexual orientation and acknowledged that were different considerations for transgender conversion practices and the Government remained committed to exploring them.
 
At a reception last week Former Equalities Minister, Mike Freer MP, claimed that the ‘four frontrunners’ in the Conservative leadership contest all supported a fully inclusive ban on conversion practices.
 
AND FINALLY

Mexican President, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador wants to make twice yearly clock changes like daylight saving time a thing of the past. He recommended returning to standard time ‘which is when the solar clock coincides with the people’s clock, the clock of God’.

If you are not already a member of the Catholic Union, you can sign up here.
 
Weekly Briefings are compiled by Louisa Collyer-Hamlin featuring an editorial from James Somerville-Meikle. Edited by Nigel Parker. You can find out more about our team here.
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