Dear Members,
Catholic Union Head of Public Affairs James Somerville-Meikle writes: Members of the Royal Family choose the topics they intervene on carefully, with royal aides keen to avoid anything too political. It was interesting that this week the Duchess of Cornwall spoke about domestic abuse, at the same time the Domestic Abuse Bill is going through Parliament (currently in the House of Lords). Writing in the Guardian, the Duchess said the rise in incidents of domestic abuse during lockdown was “deeply troubling”. She urged anyone worried that a friend or loved one could be suffering from domestic abuse to “reach in” and help them as it had become harder for people to reach out for help during the pandemic. Debates in the House of Commons on the Domestic Abuse Bill were overshadowed by the attempts of some MPs to use the Bill to amend abortion law. As peers prepare to debate the Bill in the House of Lords, the Duchess of Cornwall has provided a timely reminder of the need to support those suffering from domestic abuse. If peers are looking for inspiration, then the National Board of Catholic Women’s document would be a good place to start.
Future of wedding ceremonies. The Law Commission is consulting on how to reform wedding ceremonies, to allow celebrations outside of churches, and to allow non-religious belief organisations to be able to conduct legally-binding weddings. The consultation closes on 3 December.

Age of martyrdom
. Archbishop Celestino Migliore, the Pope’s representative to France, has explained in Aleteia that there are “more Christian martyrs now than in all the previous centuries”.
Prayers for our brethren in other countries. The Catholic Bishops of England and Wales have expressed their support for the Catholic Bishops of Zimbabwe whose pastoral letter calls for truth, justice and reconciliation in the current situation in Zimbabwe. Another recent statement called for prayers for the people of Belarus and yesterday (4 September) Pope Francis called for a day of prayer and fasting for Lebanon.

Appeals for Lebanon. Members wishing to help those affected by the devastating explosion in Beirut last month may like to make a donation via our friends at Aid to the Church in Need ( or Fellowship and Aid to Christians of the East (

Government to consult on making home abortions permanent. The Times has reported that the Government will consult on making permanent the rule that was introduced during the pandemic, whereby UK women can take both abortion pills at home up to 10 weeks of pregnancy, following a tele-conference with a doctor. Home Office Minister, Victoria Atkins MP, gave a commitment during the Domestic Abuse Bill to consult on making the arrangements permanent for survivors of domestic abuse, but the scope of the consultation could be broadened to all women according to the Times.
Think Tank finds ‘hostile environment’ failed. The Institute for Public Policy Research has concluded that the Home Office’s alleged ‘hostile environment’ failed to encourage migrants to leave the UK. The report claims that the policies have fuelled racism, pushed people into destitution, and wrongly targeted people who are living in the UK legally.
Some facts about asylum-seeking in the UK. The Guardian has published a fact-checking article in response to a TV programme showing accusations from far-right activists about the asylum-seeking process in the UK.
Increased delays on treatment of asylum claims. People seeking asylum in the UK are facing increasing long waiting times to have their cases processed. Four out of five applicants in the last three months of 2019 waited more than six months, compared with three in four during the same period in 2018. While waiting for the UK’s decision, they are banned from working, and receive a £5 daily allowance and accommodation.
Record-low level of enforced returns. The number of migrants returned to their country of origin by the Home Office has dropped by 34% in the 12 months to June, down to 5,304 enforced returns.
Parliamentary discussions on migration situation in the Channel. Replying to a Parliamentary Questions on migrants crossing the Channel, Home Office Minister Chris Philp MP, said that the UK already offers safe passage to asylum-seekers, and that the post-Brexit asylum process should offer “no incentive” for people to cross the Channel illegally. Catholic charities such as The Passage and Jesuit Refugee Service are campaigning to secure safe passage to the UK.
Call to support people leaving prisons. Nacro, a charity that supports people coming out of prison, has warned that the number of people becoming homeless after leaving prisons will raise. About 1,000 people were already released into homelessness during the lockdown.
Legal action against ban on prisons visits. The Ministry of Justice is being sued by a mother whose child was banned from visiting his father in prison during lockdown. Other families are considering taking legal action against MoJ.

AND FINALLY...some online events happening over the next few weeks:

Wednesday 9 September at 6.30pm: The Jesuit Refugee Service is hosting an online discussion about its report "Detained and Dehumanised: The Impact of Immigration Detention".  See here for more details.

Thursday 10 September at 4pm: Together for the Common Good have organised a Transatlantic Webinar on RENEWING THE COVENANT: CHURCHES AND THE BUILDING OF LOCAL RELATIONSHIPS.  Learn more and book your place here. 

Also on Thursday 10 September at 6pm: the Tablet has organised an evening of debate and discussion on Catholic education post-Covid. Tickets are £5.50.

Monday 28 September at 6.30pm: the Centre for the Art of Dying Well at St Mary's Twickenham is hosting an online event entitled "Rethinking accompaniment at the end of life". For more details, see here.
The Catholic Union News is compiled by Lisa Fraser with additional contributions from James Somerville-Meikle and Nigel Parker.

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