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Christianity in Britain must innovate to survive

A new report shows that more Britons identify as non-religious. But for Christianity, there might be bigger issues at stake

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Catholic Social Thought and Catholic Charities in Britain Today: Need and Opportunity


The Catholic Social Thought (CST) is receiving significant public attention as part of the public debate on the future of politics, economics and society. Less attention has been paid to the extent to which Catholics are themselves embodying CST to improve their local communities.

In particular, the Catholic charitable sector offers a case study of how these principles can be enacted in practice. This report, the result of a project funded by the Charles Plater Trust, takes a close look at Catholic charities operating in Britain today. It examines the extent to which they understand and embody CST, what it means to be a Catholic charity today, and what are the challenges – both practical and theoretical – facing them in their work.

Working with six very different Catholic charities – ranging in activity from providing care to seafarers in British ports to finding clothes for refugee families and homes for adults with disabilities (among many other examples) – and drawing on over sixty interviews with trustees, staff, volunteers and service users, this report identifies six key themes of CST and examines the extent to which they are understood and used in charitable work.

In light of this, the report addresses the wider issues concerning what “being Catholic” means for charities today, thereby offering a fresh, important and encouraging perspective on the particular challenges and opportunities facing Catholic charities in 21st century Britain.

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