Final resolutions from Bishops Conference November meeting

The Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales met for its plenary session at Hinsley Hall in Leeds between 14-17 November. The issued a number of  resolutions today covering:  'Working with Survivors and Towards Healing; Developing Caritas;  Developing a Strategic Framework; Fair Funding for Schools, Academic Standards in Catholic Schools; the Queen's Diamond Jubilee;  and the Dublin Eucharistic Conference 2012.

The resolutions follow:

Working with Survivors and Towards Healing                                     

Survivors of abuse who come to the Church for pastoral help rightly expect to be welcomed and listened to, and to be understood and supported. As Bishops, we acknowledge this has not been adequately developed as an integral part of our safeguarding work.

At our meeting we received a verbal report from the National Catholic Safeguarding Commission (NCSC), an independent body which we established to monitor and audit the compliance of the Church with safeguarding procedures. We are very grateful to the NCSC and our agency, the Catholic Safeguarding Advisory Service, for the continuing discussions which have been taking place with a number of survivor organisations.

Listening to that experience, and learning from each other’s work with survivors, we seek to fulfil the injunction of Pope Benedict on his visit to the United Kingdom last year. He said “Our first interest is for the victims: how can we repair the damage done? ....What can we do to help them overcome this trauma, to regain their life and rediscover confidence in the message of Christ? Care, commitment to victims is the first priority, with material, psychological, spiritual aid”.

We strongly encourage the NCSC to continue developing a ‘Care Pathway’ for victims and survivors, which will help to ensure that the Church responds appropriately and sensitively to their needs at every stage. We have also asked the NCSC to continue their work on developing guidance to dioceses and religious orders on how best to ensure the Church can act pastorally to care for victims without compromising the legal rights and freedoms of all involved. The care of survivors remains a priority for all of us.

Deepening Social Engagement and the development of Caritas

The Bishops’ Conference warmly welcomes the development plans proposed by Caritas Social Action Network (CSAN) for the further development of Catholic social action in England and Wales with the aim of deepening the Church’s social engagement at the service of the gospel. They agree that:

i           During 2012 and 2013 there should be “roadshow” events in each diocese in England and Wales, organised in each case in close collaboration with the diocesan Bishop, parishes, agencies and charities, to explore the possible creation and development of appropriate local ‘Caritas’ structures, and to further local collaboration of existing work;

ii           Provincial meetings be held, led by the Bishop of Salford, to reflect and discuss emerging issues;

iii          CSAN lead a research programme to assist dioceses in this work.

Development of a Strategic Framework

The Bishops’ Conference approves the further development of its Strategic Framework. This framework will reflect the:

i      Core work of a Bishops’ Conference, both international and national, as required by the status of Bishops’ Conferences in the Catholic Church.

ii     Specific projects and programmes, at a national level, which will enhance and support the strategic priorities and needs of the dioceses of England and Wales.

Fair Funding for Catholic Schools

At a time of great change, and as we consider how our schools can best serve the Common Good, the Bishops are grateful for the continued support of the Secretary of State for Education for Voluntary Aided schools. However we strongly urge Her Majesty’s Government to ensure that children being educated in Voluntary Aided schools are not disadvantaged, financially or otherwise, compared with other categories of schools. The Bishops' Conference instructs the Catholic Education Service of England and Wales to strive to obtain from the Secretary of State an assurance that Fair Funding principles will continue to apply to all Catholic Schools in the state sector.

Academic Standards in Catholic Schools

The Catholic Church in England and Wales is rightly proud of the high academic standards achieved in so many Catholic schools. However it is aware that some schools fall short of the standards expected by both Government and Church (cf. Can. 806 §2). Therefore the Bishops' Conference mandates the Catholic Education Service of England and Wales to develop strategies alongside Diocesan authorities and within the wider Catholic sector to ensure that Catholic Schools in difficulty can be helped to improve rapidly so as to offer an excellent Catholic education to our children.

Diamond Jubilee of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

The Bishops’ Conference requests that on the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, Sunday 3 June 2012, each parish will celebrate a Mass with prayers to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. During this Mass, the first reading is replaced by 1 Kings 3:11–14 and the Prayer for the Queen, which has been approved by the Bishops, is used after the Post Communion Prayer and before the Final Blessing.

Prayer for the Queen

V. O Lord, save Elizabeth, our Queen.
R. And hear us on the day we call upon you.

V. O Lord, hear my prayer.
R. And let my cry come before you.

V. The Lord be with you.
R. And with your spirit.

Almighty God, we pray,
that your servant Elizabeth, our Queen,
who, by your providence has received the governance of this realm,
may continue to grow in every virtue,
that, imbued with your heavenly grace,
she may be preserved from all that is harmful and evil
and, being blessed with your favour
may, with her consort and the royal family,
come at last into your presence,
through Christ who is the way, the truth and the life
and who lives and reigns with you

in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God,
for ever and ever.


Eucharistic Congress, Dublin 2012

The Bishops’ Conference recommends that dioceses mark the Eucharistic Congress in Dublin on 10/17 June 2012 by periods of prayer and Eucharistic Adoration in every parish, in solidarity with the Congress and the Catholic Church in Ireland. Resources will be made available to parishes through the website in advance of this date.

Source: CCN

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