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Dear Members,
 
Catholic Union Head of Public Affairs James Somerville-Meikle writes: Many churches and charities have seen a huge strain on their resources during coronavirus. Opportunities for fundraising have dried up on account of social distancing, now compounded by the economic downturn, and a number of volunteers have had to stay at home on account of health concerns. And yet the work of churches and charities is needed more than ever in responding to the impact of this pandemic on people’s lives. That’s why the Catholic Union has joined forces with the Caritas Social Action Network (CSAN) and the Catholic Bishops, to call for an enhanced Gift Aid scheme to be introduced. A higher rate of Gift Aid is one way the Government could help – it would mean every £1 donated to charity has the greatest possible benefit. The Government has been generous in responding to the needs of other groups and sections of society during this pandemic. It’s time that charities got a fair deal.
 
There’s been a lot of commentary this week about robots and the role of algorithms following the process used to allocate exam results this year. If you missed our talk earlier in the month on the ethical challenges of Artificial Intelligence, you can now watch it online. Follow the link here.
 
COVID-19
 
Catholics unite to call for enhanced Gift Aid scheme. The Catholic Union, Caritas Social Action Network, and Catholic Bishops in England and Wales have joined forces to call for a higher rate of Gift Aid to be introduced in response to coronavirus. In their letter to the Culture Secretary, Oliver Dowden, the Catholic groups highlight the “perfect storm” faced by many charities at this time – with falling revenue and greater demand for services. Read the letter here.  The letter was the subject of an article in The Catholic Universe this week.
 
Looming rise of homelessness. Charity Shelter has reported that 170,000 people have been threatened with eviction by their landlords, as the ban on evictions put in place by the Government during the Covid pandemic comes to an end on 24 August. Shelter assesses that a total of 230,000 people could be evicted in the coming months.
 
Restrictions ease up. From this weekend, wedding receptions in the form of a sit-down meal for up to 30 guests will be allowed.
 
FREEDOM OF RELIGION AND BELIEF
 
Plea to support Uighurs. More than 70 faith leaders have urged international powers to support persecuted Uighur Muslims in China. In the letter, they compared the situation of the people to the Holocaust.
 
MIGRATION
 
Debates about how to solve the migrant situation. Home Office Secretary Priti Patel has appointed Dan O'Mahoney to work with the French authorities “to tackle Channel crossings”. Ms Patel also announced that the UK would send the navy to deter migrants from crossing the Channel illegally. Replying, the French Government signalled that this solution would be unlawful; and charities added that it would endanger migrants’ lives. Kent County Council (KCC) is reporting record-breaking numbers of migrants crossing the Channel – including unaccompanied children.
 
Lack of support for non-English speaking victims. Charity Nirvana Karma has reported several cases of shelters for abused women refusing to support women who do not speak English.

AND FINALLY...

Readers may be interested in this blog post by Catholic Union member and founder of the Thomas More Legal Centre, Neil Addison, about how different religious beliefs about a funeral may be resolved:
https://www.lawandreligionuk.com/2020/08/14/who-decides-on-the-how-and-why-of-a-funeral-an-australian-argument/.  With thanks to the Law and Religion UK blog.
The Catholic Union News is compiled by Lisa Fraser with additional contributions from James Somerville-Meikle and Nigel Parker.

If you’re a Catholic charity, or if you work in parliamentary/public affairs, and you would like us to flag specific items in this newsletter, please send the information to: lisa.ingrid.fraser@gmail.com.
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