The Most Reverent Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster has highlighted the importance of conversation between those who make the decisions in Parliament and those who witness their effects, in a speech given to MPs and members of Caritas Social Action Network.
Key areas of social security, health and criminal justice, and the need for decisions to be shaped by “practical recognition of the needs of and really influenced by the experience of those on the front line of this work,” were highlighted by the Archbishop at the Caritas Social Action Network parliamentary reception.
The Archbishop praised the work of member organisations of the Caritas network in helping those who are marginalised in society. He alluded to the current economic and social challenges that include; the effects of cutbacks, the repercussions of the summer riots, and the growing pressure upon families and young people.
MP’s and Peers were asked to, “utilise the wealth of knowledge and creativity” of those who are working in social action.
The Welfare Reform Bill amendments to protect benefit claimants are being discussed in the House of Lords. Caritas Social Action Network has worked with Baroness Hollins, who tabled an amendment aiming to protect benefit claimants from being penalised as a result of administration errors.
Kevin Flanagan, Director of the St Anthony’s Centre for Church and Industry said, “If the present [Welfare Reform Bill] proposals go through, I am gravely concerned that a number of people who are receiving benefits could, through no fault of their own, be placed in debt and face other far reaching consequences for matters which are beyond their control.”
Archbishop Vincent Nichols’ echoed Pope Benedict XVI address to MP’s in Westminster Hall last year, when the Holy Father emphasised “the duty of civil authority to foster the common good.”
Listen to the Archbishop’s speech here.