These days, the vocabulary of the common good is liberally deployed in political, religious and charity sectors. But too often, the term is misapplied and misunderstood. When used to promote utilitarian or utopian ideas, it can provide cover for coercive ideologies that do more harm than good. Such ideas are antithetical to the conception of common good in the Christian, Jewish and Aristotelean traditions, which are underpinned by fundamental human principles such as love, reciprocity, relationship, freedom and mutual respect. Given this background, a coalition of Christian-inspired organisations active in the public square are putting together a series of events to explore the meaning of the common good and the role of the family, society and government in its promotion.
The first event will explore how the common good in its true sense relates to a settled pluralism of identities and interests, the shared life of a society to which everyone freely contributes and is able to flourish and reach fulfilment. It will also explore how important that is given the background of current political discourse. This event will be chaired by Ruth Kelly and feature three discussants Professor Phillip Booth (St Mary’s University, Twickenham), Jenny Sinclair (Together for the Common Good), Dr Sam Bruce (Centre for Social Justice).
This is the first of four events in the series: ‘The Common Good: what does it mean for families, society and government’ produced in partnership between Together for the Common Good, The Centre for Social Justice, Caritas Social Action Network and the Benedict XVI Centre at St Mary’s University Twickenham. The series is sponsored by CCLA, one of the UK’s largest ethical fund managers, home of the Catholic Investment Fund.
Punishment and prisons in 21st century Britain
The Benedict XVI Centre at St. Mary’s University, together with the Caritas Social Action Network and the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, evening discussion on Punishment and Prisons in the 21st Century with Bishop Richard Moth and Rev Jonathan Aitken, chaired by Professor Philip Booth.
The UK has an unusually large number of people in prison relative to its population compared with other Western countries. Most Christians would recognise that human sinfulness leads to situations where some people deserve serious punishment and that prison might be necessary to protect the population from some people who have committed criminal acts. However, this does not mean that we should be comfortable with ever-growing numbers in prisons which are often unsafe environments for both prisoners and prison staff and also places without hope.
Rev Jonathan Aitken is a former cabinet minister who himself was once a prisoner and is now an Anglican priest and part-time prison chaplain. Bishop Richard Moth is Liaison Bishop for Prisons for the Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales. They will be joined in conversation with Professor Philip Booth of St. Mary’s University to discuss a range of questions, including:
- What is life like in prisons today, especially in the context of COVID?
- How can we ensure that there is hope for those who spend time in prison?
- What steps should we take to reduce prison numbers?
- What forms of punishment could be used which will both protect the public and hold out greater hope of reform of those convicted of crime?
- How do prison chaplains and visitors bring Christian hope into prisons?
- What can we do as individuals to help bring hope to the 83,000 people who are in prison?
“Wednesday 10 February 2021Time:6.00pm – 7.15pm Venue:
For further information about all Catholic social thought events and for bookings for future events please go to: St Mary’s University Events page“