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The opening days of the Synod on the Family have revealed distinct differences of opinion between the participants. How can their commitment to church teaching be matched with compassion for those who struggle with it?
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Paul Goggins, the Labour MP and prominent Catholic activist, died last night in hospital.
The Wythenshawe and Sale East MP suffered from a brain haemorrhage while out running with his son on 30 December. The 60-year-old's family was with him in Salford Royal hospital when he died.
His family praised the hospital for his care and said they had been overwhelmed by the support and good wishes they had received.
In a statement his wife, Wyn, and adult children Matthew, Theresa and Dominic said:
“Last night our dear dad and husband, died in hospital in Salford with us by his side. We are completely heartbroken. He had been very ill since collapsing last week.
The way in which he has been cared for at Salford Royal has been such a comfort to us and we can't thank the staff enough for this.
We have been overwhelmed by the support and good wishes we have received from so many people – a real sign of love and a reflection of the sort of person Paul/Dad was. We would also like to thank the media for continuing to respect our privacy at such a difficult time.”
Labour leader Ed Miliband paid tribute to Mr Goggins' faith. “Paul was a man of deep faith whose commitment and strong values shone through everything he did," he said in a statement. "As a social worker, councillor, MP and Minister, attending to the needs of the most disadvantaged was always at the core of his particularly thoughtful and dedicated service. He was held in great affection by the people of Northern Ireland for his real understanding of the challenges they faced in the aftermath of the Good Friday Agreement."
Mr Miliband also tweeted: "We have lost one of our most dignified, humane, wise and loyal MPs."
Archbishop Peter Smith, Vice-President of the bishops' conference of England and Wales, said: "Paul Goggins was a man of deep faith. His Catholic faith shaped and informed his passion and commitment to politics, and his lifelong vocation to social justice, combating poverty and exclusion. He was an outstanding servant of both Church and society, and his loss will be keenly felt. I will be praying for Paul and his family and I encourage others to do the same at this sad time.”
Mr Goggins co-founded the All-Party Parliamentary Friends of Cafod, the Catholic aid agency, and was a former national director of the ecumenical social justice charity Church Action on Poverty. He was also the chairman of trustees for the Cardinal Hume Centre that helps homeless and impoverished young people in London.
Labour politicians are expected to push through the Government's Mesothelioma Bill, which Mr Goggins had amended to try and get more compensation for cancer sufferers, the Manchester Evening News reported yesterday.
Mr Miliband is understood to have agreed that his amendments should appear before the Commons in the MP’s absence.
The Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham said that he hoped to push through the legislation in solidarity with Mr Goggins and his family.
“To us, this was the most fitting show of strength from the Parliamentary Labour Party in Paul's name and the best message of support we can send to his family,” he said.