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Dear Members,
 
Catholic Union Director Nigel Parker comments: "This week I watched a webinar about Religious Freedom in China where the three speakers focused on the situation of Uighur Muslims, Tibetan Buddhists and Christians respectively. The problem for Christians is that fundamentally the Chinese Government cannot accept that its citizens acknowledge any authority above the Chinese Communist Party and Catholics are particularly susceptible to suspicions of "foreign interference" because of our association with Rome. This reminded me of the days of communism in Eastern Europe when morality was reduced to the simple question of whether something was in the interests of the Party (good) or not (bad).  In our society, it is not so much allegiance to a foreign power that causes problems for Catholics in public life (though echoes of earlier prejudice sometimes resurface) but allegiance to a concept of human dignity and moral principles that do not correspond to, and increasingly diverge from, the prevailing ideologies of our time.  The Catholic Union's role, with your help, is to continue to promote the Catholic viewpoint in politics and public affairs and to do so, following the model of our patron St Thomas More, whatever the season.
 
COVID-19
 
Faith leaders urging action against poorest countries’ debt. More than 70 faith leaders and faith charities – including Cafod – have asked Chancellor Rishi Sunak to show “leadership” at the G20 meeting of Finance Ministers this week, and to press them to cancel the debt of the poorest countries. In May, Pope Francis said it was not right “to demand or expect [debt] payment when the effect would be the imposition of political choices leading to hunger and despair for entire peoples”.
 
Webinar on development. Cafod and Whitehouse Consultancy organised a webinar on the loss of DfID and the world’s poorest after Covid-19, which was attended by a number of UK MPs.
 
 
DOMESTIC ABUSE
 
Debate over the treatment of migrant victims of domestic abuse. Labour MP Neil Coyle has criticised the Government for banning people who fall under the category “No Recourse to Public Fund” policy – and possibly their children – from the support granted by the Domestic Abuse Bill. Replying, Home Office Secretary Priti Patel said that the UK also have a “destitution domestic violence concession scheme”.
 
Sharp rise of domestic abuse reports during lockdown. The London School of Economics’ Centre for Economic Performance has found that the Met Police received 45,000 calls for domestic abuse in the 11 weeks from 23 March, up 11.4% compared with the same period in 2019.
 
EQUALITY
 
EHRC and Anti-Semitism. The Equality and Human Rights Commission has provided the Labour Party with a draft of their report into allegations of anti-Semitism. The EHCR will publish a full judgement later this year. Keir Starmer has promised to act on any recommendations made.
 
Cardinal Vincent Nichols has introduced a video on Being Black and Catholic. Watch it here.
 
Westminster Justice and Peace is organising a webinar “A Catholic Response to George Floyd and Black Lives Matter” on Friday 24 July at 7.30p-8.30pm with speakers Baroness Scotland (UK) and Leslye Colvin (USA).
 
HOMELESSNESS
 
Push for emergency measures to prevent homelessness. As the ban on evictions introduced by the Government during the Covid crisis is coming to an end, Shadow Secretary for Housing Thangam Debbonaire has urged the Government to “bring forward at least emergency elements to prevent an evictions crisis.”
 
MIGRATION
 
Landmark case on fast track deportation system. The High Court is to examine the fairness of the “fast-track deportation system”, in the case of a woman who was deported to Uganda, where she said she was gang-raped and became pregnant because of the rape. A High Court judge ruled that her removal from the UK was “procedurally unfair”, but the Home Office is seeking to overturn the decision. More details.
 
Post-Brexit immigration system presented. The Home Office has introduced the UK’s post-Brexit migration system. It will favour high-skilled workers, with a point-based system favouring those earning more than £25,600. The Government have argued that cutting low-skilled migration will reduce the risk of human trafficking. Critics have said that the system is making life harder for frontline workers and families. Following the backlash, the Government decided to exempt health and care workers from the health surcharge – but not other low-wage earners like cleaners or farmers.
 
Time limit for immigration detention rejected. Catholic charities, including the Jesuit Refugee Service, have expressed their deep regret that an amendment to introduce a time limit of 28 on immigration detention was rejected from the Immigration Bill. More details on the campaign.


 
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