Faith Minister Lord Bourne champions communities as he meets The Pope.

Faith Minister Lord Bourne visited Vatican City last week to discuss the essential role religious communities play in meeting the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, which reach from ending poverty to promoting gender equality to creating sustainable cities and communities.

In his speech at this year’s conference on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals at the Holy See, Lord Bourne championed the important contribution faith communities in the UK make to help create strong social networks, support vulnerable people, undertake voluntary work and provide education.

Faith Minister Lord Bourne said:

“Over the centuries, religion has helped form many of our shared values and the work of faith and belief communities and faith-based organisations continues to play a vital role.

“While their contribution is sometimes undervalued, I’ve seen first-hand on my tours around the country the hard work that outward facing congregations put into supporting their local areas.

“My sincere thanks to the Holy See for organising this conference and for the opportunity to share how the values and beliefs of our faith groups help to make stronger, more united communities.”

The Government has recently published an Action Plan setting out the next steps in creating stronger, more confident and integrated communities, where people, whatever their background, can live, work, learn and socialise together, based on shared rights, responsibilities and opportunities.

This work includes support for migrants to develop a good understanding of life in England, creating opportunities for people to mix with those from other backgrounds and boosting English language skills.

The plan reaffirms the Government’s support for faith communities and empowering faith leaders with the confidence and knowledge to meet the changing needs of their congregations.

During his visit to Vatican City, Lord Bourne also met Archbishop Paul Gallagher, Secretary for Relations with States within the Holy See, to discuss the social action work undertaken by faith communities in the UK.

Following a Papal Audience with Pope Francis, on Saturday (9 March) Lord Bourne visited the Basilica of Saint Clement where he met resident members of the Irish Dominican Order.

British Ambassador to the Holy See Sally Axworthy MBE said:

“I was delighted to welcome Lord Bourne on his first visit to the Holy See.

“We had fruitful conversations at the Vatican about the key role which faith leaders play in building bridges of understanding, both at local and at international level.”

Phoebe Bennett

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