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

It’s shaping up to be a busy week in Parliament next week – and not just for the Government Whips’ Office. On Tuesday, the National Parliamentary Prayer Breakfast returns to Westminster. It will be the first time that the event has taken place in person for three years, but it will also be live streamed to give people across the country the opportunity to take part. You can sign up to watch it here. Tuesday also sees the start of a major international conference on freedom of religion or belief. The Catholic Union will be attending the two-day conference in London along with charities, politicians, and academics from around the world. While on Wednesday, Cardinal Nichols is due to visit Parliament and celebrate Mass in St Mary Undercroft. Our news sadly continues to be dominated about negative stories from politics, but beneath the surface there is a lot of good work that goes on by a great number of people. It’s a huge privilege to be a small part of that. 


Are you coming to our Social Drinks on 12 July?
Tuesday 12 July from 6pm - Catholic Union Drinks. A social evening for Catholic Union members, guests and friends to meet each other and our staff and Council.  We have hired the upstairs bar of the Windsor Castle pub (formerly known as the Cardinal). There will be a cash bar and food available to buy from the pub menu.  There is no need to register – you can just turn up!  This is primarily a social event so feel free to invite friends, especially any who might be interested in joining the Catholic Union.  Venue: The Windsor Castle (upstairs bar), 23 Francis Street, London SW1P 1DN (behind Westminster Cathedral).

Monday 18 July at 7.30pm -  The Work of the Equality and Human Rights Commission.  A Catholic Union Webinar with Alasdair Harrison, a barrister and member of the EHRC, 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. A zoom link will be circulated nearer the time.
Saturday 23 July - Catholic Union Summer Gathering.  Places are still available for the Catholic Union Summer Gathering on Saturday 23 July at St Mary’s College, Oscott, near Birmingham.  Please join us to hear more about the Catholic Union’s work and to see the beautiful Pugin chapel and other treasures of Oscott. Tickets are only £28 per person, which includes lunch, refreshments and a tour. The day will start with Mass in the Chapel at 11 am. Full details on how to book are here.
Holy Apostles Pimlico.  The Catholic Union visited Holy Apostles Pimlico parish on 25-26 June. Council Members spoke at weekend masses at the kind invitation of Canon Pat Browne and met with parishioners after Mass to answer their questions about the Catholic Union. We are grateful for the solidarity offered by Holy Apostles as a Supporter Parish of the Catholic Union. 

Canon Pat Browne and Nigel Parker, Director of the Catholic Union at the Parish Barbecue


This week's edition of the Catholic Universe Online Weekly includes a column by James Somerville-Meikle (on page 3).


Covid Inquiry. On 28 June the Cabinet Office published the UK Covid Inquiry Terms of Reference.


Commission for Racial Justice. The Church of England Archbishop’s Commission for Racial Justice has released the first of its biannual racial justice reports. The Commission is mandated to drive significant change on issues of racial justice within the Church of England and is headed by Lord Boateng to monitor, hold to account and support the implementation of the forty seven recommendations of the Racial Justice Taskforce which were laid out in the Taskforce’s report.


Preferred Pronouns.  Dr David Mackereth, an evangelical Christian, has lost his appeal against the DWP. Dr Mackereth had been contracted to assess individuals for disability related benefits, some of whom were contemplating undergoing or had undergone gender reassignment, but owing to his beliefs he refused, as a matter of conscience, to refer to clients using the pronoun of their choice which was what DWP required him to do.  The Employment Appeal Tribunal (unlike the court below) found that Dr Mackereth's belief in Genesis 1:27 ("..male and female he created them") was a protected characteristic but concluded that the measures adopted by his employer were necessary and proportionate.  Read more here.

Roe v Wade. Following the US Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs to overturn Roe v Wade, Bishop John Sherrington, Lead Bishop for Life Issues for the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales and Auxiliary in Westminster, gave a statement. The Bishops’ Conference of Scotland has issued a statement calling for the debate about abortion to be handled with respect and civility.  Lord Alton of Liverpool (CB) has written an article about the Roe v Wade overturn which can be read here.  There is also an Explainer on the Right to Life website.

On 28 June there was a debate in the House of Commons with Amanda Milling MP, Minister for Asia and the Middle East, stating the Government’s position that access to abortion services in the US was a matter for the US Supreme Court and for authorities in individual states. She stated that Dobbs v Jackson did not make abortion illegal across America, rather it removed federal protection for abortions, hence allowing individual states to determine their own laws.


Professor Anthony Towey.  Sadly Professor Anthony Towey died last week.  Remembering his life, Anthony McClaran, Vice-Chancellor of St Mary’s University, Twickenham, said “Anthony has been a leader in Theological and Catholic Pedagogical research throughout his career and has been a much loved and well respected member of the St Mary’s community for many years.  The University recently recognised Anthony’s contributions to our community by presenting him with a St Mary’s Medal, the highest honour the University can bestow”. A memorial Mass will take place next term, for more information please visit St Mary’s University.

Sea Sunday 10 July.  Catholic charity Stella Maris (formerly called Apostleship of the Sea) provides pastoral and spiritual support to seafarers and fishers. Your prayers and support are greatly needed. To support the charity’s work, please go to

The National Synthesis.  The National Synthesis document was published on 22 June reflecting on Synod reports received by the national synthesis team, discerning the main themes that have emerged  and collating them together to give a picture of the synodal process in England and Wales.  This week, the Bishops of England and Wales, will gather to discern their response to the synthesis where their work, together with the synthesis document, will be sent to the Synod Office in Rome as the formal submission to the Synod from England and Wales. During his homily on the Feast of St Peter and St Paul, Cardinal Vincent Nichols reflected on the Synodal Process.

AISF Board Member. The Pope has appointed Kevin Ingram, member of the Catholic Union, to work with the Financial Intelligence and Supervisory Authority (AISF). Mr Ingram was an audit partner in PwC and in addition is a member of the Trustee Board and Chair of the Audit Committee of the Westminster Roman Catholic Diocesan Trust.

Apostolic Letter. On 29 June, the Feast of St Peter & St Paul, Pope Francis published a letter on the liturgy, nearly one year after he issued the moto proprio Traditionis custodes, restricting the celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass. In Desiderio Desidervavi the Pope said that he wanted to invite the whole Church to rediscover, to safeguard, and to live the truth and power of the Christian celebration.

Bill of Rights. During PMQs, where Dominic Raab MP was standing in for the Prime Minister, Rosie Duffield MP (Lab) Canterbury asked for a clear signal that the Government respected the rights of women and whether the PM would accept  the cross party amendment to the Bill of Rights Bill which would enshrine in law a "woman’s right to choose". In response the Deputy PM said that the position on abortion was settled in UK law and that it was an issue of conscience where he did not think there was a strong case for change.  He said that with respect, he did not want to find ourselves in the US position where the issue was litigated through the courts, rather than settled by Parliament.
Freedom of Religion or Belief Conference. On 28 June Members of Parliament debated the Freedom of Religion or Belief international conference, at which the Catholic Union will be present. Sir Edward Leigh MP (Con), Gainsborough, President of the Catholic Union contributed to the debate and spoke about the dire situation in Nigeria with attacks taking place within Catholic churches during Mass and the persecutions in China. Sir Edward stated that freedom of religion or belief was one of the most essential human rights and that our Government should be the leader in the world at speaking out in favour of religious minorities and their rights. See
Parliamentarians Meet the Cardinal. Next week Catholic Parliamentarians from both Houses and all parties will have the opportunity to meet with Cardinal Vincent Nichols for a question and answer session followed by Mass.
Schools Bill. On 30 June Baroness Barran, Education Minister, wrote to Peers agreeing to remove the clauses of the Schools Bill which incorporated new powers for the Secretary of State’s to regulate standards in academies and terminate their contracts. The Schools Bill has reached Report Stage in the House of Lords and had faced heavy criticism.
When awarded his honorary degree from the University of Exeter, Stormzy, the Christian musician and social justice campaigner, called for students to use their God given talents to benefit those around them. Watch Stormzy’s address here

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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