Cardinal Vincent addressed the CSAN Parliamentary Reception on 5 November 2014 in the Terrace Pavilion in the House of Commons. The annual event was this year hosted by Eric Ollerenshaw MP with addresses from the Cardinal and the Rt. Hon. Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and Minister for Faith. It was attended by over 170 parliamentarians and representatives from leading Catholic charities and faith-based agencies.
In his address, the Cardinal called on MPs and Lords to learn from the Church’s hands-on approach to tackling the reality of poverty in the UK through its many charities, such as CSAN, the SVP and the Cardinal Hume Centre.
He said: ‘A crucial part of serving society, whether through the calling of politics or through the Church, is to face the reality before us. This is where rhetoric ends, where philosophy gives way to reality, where dogmatism gets its hands dirty. For us this is what being a Church of the poor and for the poor really means. Our self-awareness is sharp; our sense of purpose is clear. Perhaps governments could take a lead from this too.’
As well as addressing the wider concerns, the Cardinal also spoke of the impact of zero-hours contracts, the limitations of a minimum wage and the discrepancy between incomes and basic living costs, stating that work must be properly paid if families are to find a way out of poverty.
He finally thanked CSAN and its partners for the ‘extraordinary work’ that they do across England and Wales to improve the lives of many thousands of people.
Eric Pickles told attendees that it is important for charities to challenge politicians on issues of social injustice. He said: 'It is good for us, it is good to have the challenge, it is good to be continuously tested – as you’ve tested us on foodbanks, as you’ve said various things on the spare room subsidy... The voice of the Catholic Church for people who are on a lower-level of income than any of us would want, is a powerful voice that I would encourage.'
Praising Catholics for their roles in British society, he continued, 'it is impossible, utterly impossible, to think about Great Britain today without a vibrant, prominent Catholic community...Catholics in this country make Great Britain what it is.'
The Cardinal’s address can be read in full HERE.