07 April 2016, The Tablet

Raised profile would benefit everyone


Like a graceful swan, the Catholic Church may seem to glide serenely above the surface, while below and out of sight, its legs are paddling madly. At least one of those legs may be represented by the Catholic voluntary sector – the hundreds of bodies with tens of thousands of members who work tirelessly for the betterment of humanity, and which, even when technically ecumenical, have the name Catholic in their DNA. The public does not see this at all and ordinary Catholics may be hardly aware of it, but it is vital to the life of the Church.

But how healthy is it: does it thrive? The ecumenical think tank Theos was commissioned to conduct what amounted to an audit – some might even say an Ofsted inspection – in a sample of six typical Catholic charities. Its key criteria were based on Catholic Social Teaching (CST), asking to what extent were these charities able to recall and apply the principles which ought to be at the heart of every Catholic effort to relieve hardship and advance the common good. The broad answers were very encouraging, but the research drew attention to a number of difficulties.

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