Attempts to restrict Church in Britain show need for better cooperation between clergy and laity

Catholic Union Chairman James Bogle.
Catholic Union Chairman James Bogle.

.- Citing a lack of initiative and “missed opportunities” to defend Catholic concerns in the United Kingdom, Catholic Union Chairman James Bogle has called for increased collaboration between the clergy and the laity in the face of “novel challenges” to Christian belief and religious freedom.

Writing in the Catholic Herald, Bogle noted that sexual abuse scandals and “unsavory revelations” have encouraged negative responses to the Church. As a partial solution, he proposed a return to a “proper cooperation” between the laity and the clergy for mutual assistance and for the welfare of Church and society as a whole.

Both the clerical role and the lay role in the Church are equally “irreplaceable,” he said, adding that it is “vital” that the laity assumes the “essentially lay” roles such as political lobbying. This way the Church can access the great professional talent of the laity.

“We share with other fellow citizens of faith a novel challenge in which the mere right to hold and teach any faith is challenged,” Bogle wrote.

He noted that some public officials have tried to restrict the right of Catholic children to gain entry to Catholic schools, while challenges to the adoption policies of Catholic children’s societies have forced most of them to close.

He asked why there were so few legal challenges to these infringements of religious anti-discrimination laws, even though eminent legal advice was available.

“Clearly the problem was not lack of funds. Millions of pounds of sacrificially donated Catholic money will be lost without contest.”

Some government officials have said that faith groups need to lobby if they wish to have an impact.

“In short, if we don't argue our corner we really can't complain,” Bogle wrote in the Catholic Herald.

“We need to improve collaboration within all parts of the Church. Now is the time for concerted action and joint effort,” he continued. “Priests and people must work together to promote the benefits of our faith and the common good. And we must do so in a politically non-partisan way, ready to work with whomever is in government.”

Bogle explained that the Catholic Union aims to bring the lay Catholic voice to public affairs, both in government and in the Catholic hierarchy. He named some of its eminent professionals such as union president Lord Brennan, union vice-president Lord Alton, and Edward Leigh MP, also a vice-president.

The Catholic Union, established in 1871, advises the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales. Its website is at

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