Saturday, 27 January 2018

Bishop Richard Moth Says: "Build a criminal justice system that meets the human dignity of all people"

Bishop Richard with prisoner
As Lead Bishop for Prisons he offers his reflections on the recent outcome of inspections in HMP Liverpool and HMP Nottingham:
“Developments over the last week concerning HMP Liverpool and HMP Nottingham highlight the ever-deepening crisis facing our prison system. With the Chief Inspector filing an Urgent Notification over Nottingham after it was discovered there were eight self-inflicted deaths in the last two years and with reports that Liverpool is facing the worst conditions in living memory, it is clear our criminal justice system is in need of widespread reform.

While the Government have committed to increasing staffing levels by 2,500 by December 2018, a lack of experience among staff remains a concern. In Nottingham, according to the recent findings of the Chief Inspector, diminished confidence in staff among prisoners has undermined the well-being and stability of the prison. A lack of consistent leadership has also contributed to the crisis situation in some of our prisons. Now more than ever, the prison reform agenda must take into account varied and complex factors such as these.

Giving evidence at a recent Justice Committee Inquiry into the situation at Liverpool, the new Minister for Prisons, Rory Stewart, drew attention to the importance of Governor empowerment, arguing that there needs to be a renewed focus on basic operational management. While this is an important message, it is essential to recognise that Government empowerment alone will not solve the varied problems facing prisons. In fact, it is important to ensure that the deregulation of prisons does not contribute to further variation in quality across the prison estate.

If we are to deliver a real change in our prisons, we have to examine the question of who we send to prison and why. The prison population continues to grow, yet custody is used more and more. The Director of the Prison Service has recognised that in Liverpool, the pressure of rising numbers contributed to a decline in decency. In his recent visit to Chile, Pope Francis visited a women's prison, telling the inmates that ‘losing our freedom is not the same as losing our dignity’. The challenge for us all is to build a criminal justice system that meets the human dignity of all people.”

Further information:
https://www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmipri…/inspections/
http://catholicnews.org.uk/the-right-road

Wednesday, 24 January 2018

A Message for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2018

Church Leaders committed to Churches Together in Surrey and all that this stands for, it is our pleasure to send greetings to the more local Churches Together groups at the time of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

The message needs constantly repeating, that divided and un-reconciled faith communities contribute to the divisions of the world. Whereas reconciled Christians working and witnessing together, even if not yet in full unity, bear witness to Christ's gospel in which the Church itself is an instrument of reconciliation, peace, service and goodwill.

We give thanks for all that is being achieved locally through the cooperation of churches across Surrey and North East Hampshire. The ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ global wave of prayer has become an important expression of our unity in prayer and mission. The novena of prayer, from Ascension Day to Pentecost, will again be concluded by a Beacon Event at Guildford Cathedral on the afternoon and evening of Pentecost, May 20th. Exciting plans are being made for the day which we hope will be both a culmination of all that will be happening locally as Christians pray together and a springboard for continuing prayer.

Please book the date and look out for further information about the day. You can find information about Thy Kingdom Come at www.thykingdomcome.global and share what you are doing locally on the Events Map.

From

Revd John Hellyer Chair, Methodist South East District

Revd Stuart Davison Regional Minister South East Baptist Association

Rt Revd Andrew Watson Anglican Bishop of Guildford

Rt Revd Richard Moth Roman Catholic Bishop of Arundel and Brighton

Revd Nicola Furley Smith Moderator, URC Southern Synod

Revd Clare Downing Moderator, URC Wessex Synod

Rt Revd Jonathan Clark Anglican Bishop of Croydon

Rt Revd Jo Bailey Wells Anglican Bishop of Dorking

Ven.Moira Astin Anglican Archdeacon of Reigate

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Pope and Bishops Speak Out on Migration and Refugees

Bishop Paul McAleen
©Mazur/Catholicchurch.org.uk
Bishop Paul McAleenan, Chair of the Office for Migration Policy, reflects on the Pope’s message for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees:

Sunday 14 January 2018, marks 104th World Day of Migrants and Refugees. In his message to mark the day, Pope Francis stresses the need to create a welcoming environment for migrants and refugees stating that:

"Every stranger who knocks at our door is an opportunity for an encounter with Jesus Christ, who identifies with the welcomed and rejected strangers of every age."

The Holy Father calls us to express our solidarity with migrants and refugees at every stage of the "migratory experience – from departure through journey to arrival and return."

Acknowledging the enormity of this responsibility to journey with migrants and refugees the Pope encourages all who are called to respond "“with generosity, promptness, wisdom and foresight, each according to their own abilities."

Pope Francis proposes an action-oriented initiative and provides a template for our shared response on four related fronts: to welcome, to protect, to promote and to integrate.

In each of these areas are there are practical suggestions for close collaboration with state institutions and other agencies as well as for individuals.

Firstly, in welcoming migrants and refugees Pope Francis emphasises that the personal safety must be a priority over national security. He calls on states to provide safe and legal pathways to migration with access to basic services and encourages the involvement of private and community sponsorship programmes to support government initiatives.

Secondly, in protecting migrants and refugees he focuses on defending their rights and dignity “independent of their legal status. This protection the Pope suggests must begin at the start of the journey in the country of origin through to the country of destination. He expresses concern for the protection of underage migrants who are legally provided for under the International Convention on the Rights of the Child and warns against any form of detention of children relating to their migration status. The Holy Father believes that children should be guaranteed access to health, education and the right to nationality.

Thirdly, Pope Francis further calls for the empowerment of migrants and refugees to achieve their potential as human beings. In promoting them we must recognise and value the abilities and gifts that they bring. Of particular importance is the freedom of religious belief and practice. He calls for a determined effort to promote social and professional inclusion of migrants and refugees with access to employment a key factor.

Finally, Pope Francis highlights integrating migrants and refugees as the key to shaping societies and cultures that create opportunities for intercultural enrichment. He invites all of us “to use every occasion to share this message with all political and social actors involved (or who seek to be involved) in the process which will lead to the approval of the two Global Compacts” that states have committed themselves to draft and approve before the end of 2018.

The Office for Migration Policy will prioritise its work with the UK Government and other partners to create welcoming environments and provide well-resourced Community Sponsorship Programmes in parishes across England and Wales, where migrants and refugees are welcomed, protected, promoted and integrated within our communities and the wider society.a

Bishop Paul McAleenan is the Lead Bishop for the Office for Migration and Policy