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The Family, the State and the Common Good

The Family, the State and the Common Good

This is the second in a series of three public debates, State, Society and the Common Good. 08/11/2018

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Date: Thursday 8th November 2018

This is the second in a series of three public debates, 

State, Society and the Common Good, which aims to bring people together to talk about the proper role of the state in generating a good society. These events are sponsored by CCLA, one of the UK’s largest ethical fund managers for charities, religious organisations and the public sector.

What do we expect of families? Which responsibilities should families carry, and when should the state step in?

The relationship between the state and the family has been changing over recent years. Symptoms can be seen in a range of public policy controversies, from the proposed ‘Named Person Scheme’ in Scotland, to the two child limit on benefits, to arguments over the rights of parents in matters related to sex education. In addition, there is the ever–present question of taxation and its consequences for family formation and the impact of the benefits system on family life and marriage.

Connected with the trends in government policy, the decline in what is often termed ‘the traditional family’, as well as the extended family, is resulting in fragmented relationships. What is the impact of this on our ability as a society to build the Common Good? We are seeing childcare and the care of the elderly being increasingly outsourced, rough sleepers frequently cite family breakdown as a cause of homelessness, while the young as well as the old are suffering sharp rises in levels of loneliness.

The panel will consider where and how the state should step in; what should be the shape of the welfare and tax systems to help families thrive; whether the state is capable of replacing the fundamentally human and relational functions of the family; and what kind of role churches, other faith communities and civil society groups could play to support families. In an era where family life under strain from multiple pressures is producing consequences that affect all of us, local and personal solutions may well prove to be not only vital, but central.


Professor Philip Booth Philip is Professor of Finance, Public Policy and Ethics at St Mary’s University, Twickenham and Senior Academic Fellow at the Institute of Economic Affairs. His areas of research include welfare and social insurance, financial regulation and Catholic social teaching.

Mark Molden Mark is Chief Executive of Marriage Care, a national Catholic charity with a network of trained volunteers offering professionalrelationship counselling and marriage preparation for couples to help them sustain healthy relationships.

Professor Sir Al Aynsley–Green Sir Al served as first Children’s Commissioner for England 2005 to 2010. He is professor emeritus of child health at University College London and an internationally recognised authority on children’s services, child health and childhood.

Cathy Corcoran OBE Cathy was Chief Executive of the Cardinal Hume Centre from 2003–2018, a centralLondon charity helping people to overcome poverty and homelessness. She was awarded the OBE in 2002 for her 25 years service with CAFOD.


The debate will take place at St Mary’s Church in Putney, home of the 1647 Putney Debates on the nature of democracy in England, which formulated the first doctrine of suffrage in Britain.

Wine and canapés follow the event. Doors open at 6.45pm, with the event starting at 7pm.

Entry to the church is via the ‘Putney Pantry’ (church cafe). The venue is fully accessible. Please use public transport to get to the venue (train station Putney and underground station Putney Bridge are close by, along with many bus links).

This debate series is held in partnership between Theos, the Benedict XVI Centre at St Mary’s University, Twickenham and Together for the Common Good.

 Picture courtesy of picpedia

Ben Ryan

Ben Ryan

Ben Ryan is deputy CEO and executive director for Engagement and Strategic Development at Medaille Trust, and formerly worked in policy for the CofE and as head of research at Theos.

Watch, listen to or read more from Ben Ryan

8th November 2018
St Mary’s Church
High Street
London SW15 1SN


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