Faith Covenant Forum

Today His Grace attended the online Faith Covenant Forum of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Faith & Society, chaired by the Rt Hon Sir Stephen Timms MP and hosted by the Faith Action Network.

The Faith Covenant Forum brings all of the Covenant holders together (both local authority representatives and faith leaders) to share best practice during COVID-19 and beyond. It is also a space for prospective Covenant areas to hear about what the Covenant looks like in action.

Since 2012, there has been a realisation that faith groups can be seen as a problem to local councils due to suspicion, bias, and political issues. As a result, communities missed out on the valuable contribution faith groups can make. During the pandemic councils had to depend on all faith settings in a way never seen before because faith groups were able to provide the support needed.

The Faith Covenant is a joint commitment between faith communities and local authorities to a set of principles that guide engagement, aiming to remove some of the mistrust that exists and to promote open, practical working on all levels. The Archbishop was one of the main signatories of the Faith Covenant with Brighton & Hove City Council as Chair of the Faith Council in November 2018.

The Forum discussed the success of various “warm spaces” initiatives around the country where Faith venues have partnered with local authorities to provide places for those affected by the rising cost of energy bills, to congregate, socialise and keep warm. Ideas and suggestions as well as testimonies of how the initiatives have worked and brought communities together were shared.

With the blessing of attendees, a group photograph of the Forum was taken at the end of the meeting. The Forum meets quarterly online, though plans are being made for an in-person meeting sometime in the future. The virtue of being online however, means that Forum members can participate despite the wide distances between locations!

During his recent visit to the Philippines, His Grace took the opportunity to discuss the concept and work of the Faith Covenant with civic leaders, city Mayors and state Governors to promote the concept to them. The idea was received positively with at least one commitment from a city Mayor to explore the idea for their city.

The Archbishop firmly believes that the Old Roman apostolate wherever it operates should seek closer working and partnerships with local civic authorities to promote Catholic social action.

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