THE CATHOLIC HERALD JULY 29 2011
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Archbishop intervenes over welfare reform
Archbishop Nichols says in letter to Iain Duncan Smith that cuts may drive families into poverty
BY ED WEST
THE ARCHBISHOP of Westminster has expressed his concern that Government policy will drive thousands of poor families into poverty.
In a letter to Work and Pensions Minister Iain Duncan Smith, Archbishop Vincent Nichols said he was concerned about the potential impact of new and planned Government welfare policies on the most vulnerable members of society.
The Government is imposing new limits of £400 a week for a four-bedroom home, £340 for a threebedroom home, £290 for a two-bedroom home and £250 for a one-bedroom home. In the strongly worded letter Archbishop Nichols referred to the department’s own figures which showed that 50,000 families are losing £93 a week as a result of the welfare reforms.
The archbishop wrote that this would be “a significant sum for those struggling financially”, and said: “I recognise the difficulties which must arise in seeking to promote fairness between those in work and those of working age receiving benefits but our own agencies working with poor families are becoming increasingly concerned with how the detail of how the changes will affect those families.
“As you know, some estimates that have already appeared in the media suggest 40,000 families may be rendered homeless. If this were indeed the case it would surely be a perverse result of policies aimed at reducing dependency of the ‘benefits culture’ since emergency support would immediately need to be put in place.”
Archbishop Nichols also referred to reports from the Caritas Social Action Network (CSAN) regarding growing concerns at the repercussions of the changes and the effect they are having on existing social problems.
The archbishop quotes the Depaul Trust, a member of CSAN, reporting homelessness increasing for the first time in 10 years and youth homelessness rising by 15 per cent in the last 12 months.
“In some areas of my own Diocese of Westminster, it is being suggested that one in six children may have to move home (and probably move school), while in Maida Vale the effects may force up to 43 per cent of households to move. We fear that the cost of this may be felt most by vulnerable families, whose support networks may rapidly disappear in the process,” wrote Archbishop Nichols.
The archbishop added: “It would be very helpful to have your assurance that steps are available and being taken to ensure that the vulnerable and marginalised in our society will not be disproportionately harmed by the new welfare policies. It seems that a further look at the impact on
Iain Duncan Smith’s reforms are intended to ‘restore fairness to a system which has spiralled out of control’
individuals, in particular those already struggling, is needed to fully determine the effect of the changes on both people and communities.”
In response Lord Freud, Minister for Welfare Reform, wrote to the archbishop, saying: “The Coalition
Government is committed to reforming the welfare system to make it farer, more affordable and to tackle poverty and welfare dependency. In a situation where tough choices are inevitable, we need to be fair to both benefit recipients and the taxpayer. We believe that there have to be some limits on the overall levels of benefit it is reasonable for the state to provide. This is behind our decision to introduce a cap on the level of benefits a workless household can receive.”
He said that with a limit of
£35,000 per annum per family “households will still be able to receive significant amounts of financial assistance from state welfare payments. In terms of housing, the introduction of the benefit cap will mean that workless households will
PA photo have to make the same decisions with regard to location s families in work.”
He also pointed out that the Government is implementing “the biggest single welfare-to-work programme this country has ever seen”, that once someone begins working they are no longer subject to the benefit cap, and that the Government published an impact assessment of the benefit cap which said the increase in homelessness could not be estimated.
“We take the issue of homelessness very seriously,” he said. “The aim of the benefit cap is to achieve longterm positive behavioural effects through changed attitudes to welfare, responsible life choices and strong work incentives. We believe someone in work should always be better off than someone on benefits. This is at the heart of the welfare reform.”
Mick Clarke, chief executive of the homeless charity the Passage, said that although he welcomed “the Government's engagement on many issues affecting homelessness”, he had “huge concerns that there are still many thousands of 25- to 34year-olds facing a significant cut in housing benefit which could also then leave them facing homelessness because of the lack of shared accommodation.”
He added: “If the Government can recognise that shared accommodation is not appropriate for many formerly homeless people, it is a mystery as to why they cannot see that this should also apply for other vulnerable people such as those with disabilities, mental health issues, and those fleeing domestic violence. I therefore welcome the archbishop's intervention and very much hope the Minister takes up the offer of further dialogue to ensure those most vulnerable in our society are protected.”
Allegations of clerical abuse doubled in papal visit year
BY MADELEINE TEAHAN
THE NUMBER of people in the Catholic Church accused of sexual or physical abuse has more than doubled between 2009 and 2010, according to the latest annual report by the National Catholic Safeguarding Commission (NCSC).
The Commission has attributed the rise to the papal visit, during which Pope Benedict met victims of abuse and professionals employed to safeguard the young and vulnerable within the Catholic Church. The report which was due to be released on Thursday: “The NCSC is both challenged and heartened by the fact that last year and, in particular, following the Pope’s visit more people have felt confident enough to come forward to report incidents of abuse in the hope of finding some kind of reconciliation and closure.”
In 2010 92 individuals were accused of some form of abuse compared with 43 people in 2009.
The Commission, chaired by Baroness Patricia Scotland of Asthal, found that of the total allegations of abuse made in 2010, the majority were alleged to have taken place during the 1970s or earlier. In 2010 there were 83 allegations of abuse relating to 92 alleged abusers and 103 victims. Eighteen of the victims alleged that they were abused in 2010, the same number who had alleged abuse occurring that year in 2009.
Eighty-three allegations were brought forward in 2010. The vast majority of incidents, 63 out of 83, are alleged to have occurred during the 1970s or earlier.
The report identifies five forms of abuse, including sexual, physical, emotional, neglect and possession of child abuse images.
Of the total 92 individuals suspected of abuse 71 are accused of sexual abuse and 15 are alleged to have committed physical abuse.
From the accusations made in 2010 of sexual abuse, two alleged abusers were from female religious orders and 61 were priests.
The NCSC has, for the first time, collated statistics on a national scale detailing abuse of vulnerable adults within the Church, which currently stands at a total of 20 allegations of abuse in 2010, including financial and material exploitation.
The NCSC has also examined efforts to safeguard vulnerable people within the Catholic Church. It reports that the proportion of parishes across England and Wales with at least one safeguarding representative currently stands at 96.3
per cent, while Covenants of Care, which are drawn up to monitor a parish where an incidence of abuse is alleged to have occurred, have risen in total from 212 in December 2009 to 266 in December 2010.
The Commission also reported on the instances of laicisation in cases of clerical abuse. It states: “Where an allegation of abuse results in a member of the clergy or religious serving a prison sentence, or where the risk they are considered to pose to members of the Church community, permanent removal from the clerical or religious state (laicisation) is always considered. There have been 37
such laicisations since 2001.” The report from the NCSC places a heavy emphasis on the role of Pope Benedict XVI in attempting to heal rifts and wounds within the Church following highly publicised incidences of clerical abuse in the run up to the papal- visit.
The report features a personal account of the Pope’s meeting with victims of abuse during his state visit to Britain last year. The eyewitness states: “He [Benedict XVI] prayed briefly and blessed us all. Perhaps more important on this occasion he spoke to each and everyone. He heard personal stories.
“At one point there were tears in his eyes... he told us that he would take things forward.”
On the same day that Pope Benedict met victims of abuse he addressed safeguarding professionals. He said: “It is deplorable that in such marked contrast to the Church’s long tradition of care for them, children have suffered abuse and mistreatment at the hands of some priests and religious.”
He continued: “We have all become much more aware of the need to safeguard children, and you are an important part of the Church’s broad-ranging response to the problem.”
- R C National Shrine of Our Lady, Walsingham -
Dowry of Mary
Sunday 11 September 2011
Archbishop Peter Smith
Archbishop of Southwark
Archbishop of ark Southw Archbishop of Archbishop of Southw
11.30 am 12 noon
2.15 pm 11.30 am
2.15 pm ur L f O y o t mnie lo S
Solemnity of Our Lady of Walsingham - Saturday 24 September 2011
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12 noon Solemn Mass * 2.00 pm Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament *
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d Sacra e s les e B h f t n o io t rarat do t * enm d Sacra ur 950 C d o o en To en m 3.00 p er p es lemn V lemn Ves o S
n. io t dic e en d B n s a er
3.00 pm Solemn Vespers and Benediction. To end our 950 Celebrations: 6.00 pm “The Sixteen on their Choral Pilgrimage”
s:n io t rab lee ur 950 C m 6.00 p Th “
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Followed by Barbecue, Jazz Band and ending with Fireworks (Tickets: Concert £15, Barbecue £10 - please contact the 950 Box Oﬃce, R C National Shrine .. address above)
ksrow e h Fir ti g w din d en n d a e 950 B h t t catno e c asel e £10 - p cuebra t £15, B
e .. a ni rh l S anoita e, R C N e, R C Na ﬃc x O x Oﬃc o e 950 B
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Church criticises downgrading of religious studies
BY MADELEINE TEAHAN
THE CATHOLIC Education Service of England Wales (CESEW) has criticised the Government’s continued refusal to include Religious Education in the English Baccalaureate (EBacc) despite a growing campaign from Catholic clergy and teachers.
In a statement on Friday the CESEW expressed “deep regret” at the Government’s decision not to include RE in the EBacc subjects.
It said: “We regret that, despite the Government’s recognition of the very high level of public concern regarding the exclusion of RE from the EBacc, it has failed to address the issue adequately.”
The English Baccalaureate was introduced in 2010 and is awarded to all students who achieve GCSEs at grades A*C in English, mathematics, science, a humanities subject and a modern foreign language. But, the list of recognised humanities subjects does not currently include RE.
AGovernment’s spokesperson defended the decision, emphasising that pupils could still choose RE as a GCSE subject if they want to,
The Government’s initial decision to exclude religious studies from the EBacc last year prompted alarm from the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales. In a statement in May the bishops urged the Government to review the content of the EBacc and stated their “very serious reservations about what is omitted from the EBacc, namely Religious Education.” They said: “At a time of increasing religious and cultural illiteracy, effectively to downgrade RE seems unwise to say the least. We therefore urge the Government to reconsider its decision and include RE in the EBacc.”
Although the teaching of RE in some form will continue to be compulsory until pupils have finished secondary school, concern remains that the subject’s exclusion from EBacc will lead to schools not offering RE as a GCSE exam subject.
The Religious Education Council for England and Wales described RE’s exclusion from the EBacc as a “travesty” and accused the Government of “knowingly undermining Religious Education in our schools”. It said: “Not including GCSE RE as a mainstream humanities subject in the 2010 English Baccalaureate has already resulted in many schools simply not offering it as a GCSE choice. Hard statistical evidence from the National Association of Teachers of RE showing this current and future decline was provided to the Secretary of State for consideration three weeks ago.
“Excluding it yet again from this year’s EBacc imposes further serious collateral damage on RE.”
EAST AFRICA CRISIS
Ten million people are facing a devastating drought in East Africa. Very poor rains have led to crop failure, serious food and water shortages and the deaths of tens of thousands of animals in Kenya, Ethiopia, Somalia and South Sudan. With no rain expected until September, the situation can only get worse. The UN says that in some regions the drought is the worst in years. We urgently need your support to get life-saving aid to people now.
Please make a donation today. Your gift will help to provide life-saving food for the most vulnerable, as well as water-points, medicine and emergency support for families whose animals are dying.
Please give to the East Africa Crisis Appeal. Your help WILL reach people who need it most.
cafod.org.uk/eastafrica or call
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