Wednesday, 26 January 2011

An update from Parliament

Nick is one of the Catholic Parliamentary interns this year. He is working with the Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrat Party and the MP for Bermondsey and Old Southwark, Simon Hughes.

It's been a busy few months in the office of Simon Hughes, with the consultation on housing benefit, votes on tuition fees and EMA, as well the haranguing of ministers by the Daily Telegraph, things have never been busier! Added to this Simon has been appointed a special advocate for access to higher education following on from the tuition fees vote. In his new role he is to promote the entry to university of all students from a variety of backgrounds who feel they have the potential to better themselves through a university education. I have also been lucky enough to attend several meetings with Simon. Things including promoting diversity within the Lib Dems, information on the Localism Bill and the reform our voting system have all came up. All in all a varied and diverse experience!

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Mentoring with the Cardinal Hume Centre

As part of the Catholic Parliamentary Internship this year, some of the interns are taking part in the mentoring programme with the Cardinal Hume Centre.

The Cardinal Hume Centre works with homeless young people, badly housed families, refugees, asylum seekers and migrants helping them to obtain employment and break out of the cycle of homelessness and exclusion.

Homelessness was one of Cardinal Hume's priorities both as a diocesan bishop and as a Church leader. Early in his time as Archbishop, he became President of Shelter, and he was also President of the Catholic Housing Aid Society for 23 years. He was actively involved in both supporting and starting many homelessness initiatives in London. He often spoke out on the moral obligation to reduce homelessness, particularly when the problem of street living began to escalate in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

The aim of the mentoring programme at the Cardinal Hume Centre is to provide the clients with additional one-to-one support and encouragement in working towards improving their 'employability'. As mentors, we will be helping our client develop aspirations, identify obstacles to progression and help them to set and work towards achievable goals.

We had a training day back in October when we were told what to expect from the scheme. And today I finally met my ‘client’. I will be mentoring a lovely, shy girl from South America who is planning to improve her English and go to college. I will be meeting her once a week over the next few months and helping her turn her life around and eventually to get into university to study Medicine. I am really looking forward to getting to know her and helping her achieve her aspirations.

The Cardinal Hume Centre is always looking for more people to volunteer so click here to find out more about them and how you can help.

Naomi Brandon
Public Affairs Intern at CESEW

Saturday's ordinariate ordinations - the press perspective

Unless you've been hiding under a rock recently, you will be aware that last Saturday Church history was made as we saw the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham set up and Fr Keith Newton named as the first Ordinary for England and Wales.

I was lucky enough to be helping out with press at the Ordination Mass at Westminster Cathedral thanks to my internship with Archbishop's House. My day began like a normal work day, with an early start, though the roads and streets are definitely a lot quieter on a Saturday! I helped sort out the press packs, making sure there were press releases and an order of service in each press pack before the media turned up (a lot later than we had to!).

I had never been to an ordination before so that was an experience in itself, its hard to convey how many momentous things occurred in such a short space of time; that the ordinariate was set up, that we have a named Ordinary now, that the three former Anglican Bishops were ordained opening the way for many more to come across is all important and slightly overwhelming in its magnitude.

Positive press

Some press got this, some press didn't - there were plenty of press to herd around that turned up to cover the Mass, probably unsuspecting that two and a half hours later they'd still be standing in the cold Cathedral! It was great to see the amount of coverage and interest there was, and to be a part of that.

Over the past week, I think it has become clearer to me that there is a need to help the press understand occasions such as this one, so the right information can be shared with the public. In helping the press cover the ordinations on Saturday the press office did a great job at aiding this. It is enlightening and equally revealing to hear some of the questions journalists and press ask, and helped me see what is hard to understand about the Ordinariate, and the process they're going through. it was even more interesting to see the newspapers the following day and the range of articles resulting from the ordinations - including some very strange takes on the proceedings it must be said! I'd recommend the press releases that were put out, especially the informative Q&A, to anyone who was still unclear as to what "all this Ordinariate business" was about. They've all been uploaded to the Diocese of Westminster website - as well as the CBCEW's website.

I was left extremely tired after the busy day we had, but I found it fascinating. Now, following on from my involvement with the Papal Visit and the 'Ordinariate experience', I would say it's safe to say that this is a very exciting time for the Catholic Church. I can only imagine what's to come next!

Jo-Anne Rowney
Archbishop's House Public Affairs Intern
A photo gallery of the ordinations
Audio of Archbishop Vincent's Homily

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Our correspondent from Brussels: "Caritas in Veritate" takes on the European Parliament

Chris is now three months into his internship in the European Parliament in Brussels. He has written a piece about a conference he attended about the Pope Benedict's encyclical Caritas in Veritate and the implications of modern day life and the influence they have in the political sphere.

One of my first experiences in the European Parliament was a conference co-jointly organised by the European People's Party (EPP) and the European Bishops Conference (COMECE). The recently adopted Lisbon Treaty actually provides for a permanent dialogue between the EU and the Church, but along with much of the eurocratic rhetoric it doesn't actually go into any detail as to how this should be implemented.

One year after the publication of Pope Benedict's (BXVI) third encyclical, this conference was to examine the social, economic and environmental implications of modern day life, and the resulting interplay they may have in the political realm. From the outset we heard of how the recent financial crisis doesn't limit itself to mere economics, but rather to a crisis of values. BXVI makes the point that since modern-day society is so geared toward materialistic needs and monetary profit, we lose sight of the real human needs, which sooner or later will provoke a societal crisis.

Commentators on the Encyclical pointed out that the continent we live in today, where an abortion takes place every 27 seconds and 10 million divorces weigh heavily on 15 million children, gives rise to a conception in which the hope of building has been lost: there is nothing that makes life worth living, and there is no truth to which to be committed. The consequence of this is apparent in today's generation which lacks reasons to make a home, to form a family and to bring children into the world.

The discourse continued, debating that it is religion which provides many of the values on which the EU is based- one of which being solidarity, currently put to the test with the controversial measures being taken to bail out less well off member states.

Caritas in Veritate picks up where Paul VI left off in Populorum Progressio, namely in underlining politics as the highest form of charity and how truthful politics can prove to be a formidable instrument for promoting the human person. It was this idea of truthful politics being the highest form of charity as well the concluding remarks by Mario Mauro which have been resounding in my head ever since this inspiring conference: “It is the person that becomes the protagonist of his time, of his country, who perhaps is martyred by the economic difficulties but who, thanks to education in which faith has a relevant function, has the strength to address the problems.”

Monday, 10 January 2011

A busy start to the New Year - the opening of the internship scheme, Heythrop and careers advice!

Happy New year!
I thought I'd touch base with a round up blog before we plough ahead with the internship and 2011.

Apply for the internship
The internship is now open again for this upcoming September, all the details can be found on the CBCEW website. All our little pieces about how we are finding the scheme are there too, as well as the photos from the mini photo shoot we did before Christmas in the freezing cold Westminster Hall - I think I look rather worse for wear! There is also a video about the scheme on the site.

Careers coaching
As part of the internship, every intern can meet up with Elizabeth Warmsley from Praesta. The aim is to help us get a job by guiding us through the process, highlighting our skills to us and determining what we really want to do. Knowing already what that is - journalism - I went to Elizabeth last week to get some help on the 'how'. The meeting lasts a few hours and goes through every facet of your work and life you can think of. I found the whole think very intersting, intense and informative - in a good way! Now we have all met with Elizabeth we can chose to meet her again and pick her brains. This addition to the scheme is a great opportunity and benefit, especially since it's always been hard to get a job, and now it is becoming even harder.

Heythrop restarts
All of the interns are now back for the new year, and ready for work again. Our first Heythrop lecture in Ethical Issues Today is tonight - so my first week back at work is a rather long one! Most of us are studying Ethical Issues Today this term, so can start putting into practice some of the ethical theory from last term.

Bye for now - Jo-Anne