Catholic Life

Former Taoiseach inspires delegates

Canon Pat Browne, John Bruton and Archbishop Bernard Longley

John Bruton, the former Taoiseach of Ireland, gave an inspiring lecture entitled: “Human Dignity in a changing Europe, an Irish perspective” at the Metropolitan Cathedral and Basilica of St Chad, Birmingham, on Saturday July 10, writes Peter Jennings.

More than 50 delegates attending the European Forum of National Laity Committees, known as the European Laity Forum (ELF) meeting at St Chad’s Cathedral from July 6 to 11, joined members of the public to hear Mr Bruton, who became leader of Fine Gael in 1990 and served as Taoiseach from 1994 to 1997.

In his lecture, sponsored by the Brian Faul Foundation, John Bruton focused on the following key themes: Should religion and politics be kept separate? Is the EU open to being influenced by people of faith? and the relevance of the Christian faith to the problems of Europe today. And the relevance of Christian beliefs to the Irish peace process.

After the lecture, delegates had the opportunity to meet the former Taoiseach, who also served as the ambassador of the European Union to the United States from 2004 to 2009. Seán O’Donnell, executive member of the European Laity Forum and executive director of the Brian Faul Foundation, who masterminded the study assembly in Birmingham, said: “John Bruton’s highly motivating lecture demonstrated the clear need for Christians in Europe to stand up and be counted.”

Canon Patrick Browne, administrator of St Chad’s Cathedral and local coordinator of the papal visit to the Archdiocese of Birmingham in September said: “It was a privilege to welcome John Bruton to St Chad’s Cathedral and give him an opportunity to hear first hand from the delegates at the European Lay Forum about their work and Christian involvement in countries throughout Europe.”

Canon Browne, who comes from County Offaly added: “On a personal note it was great to welcome a distinguished man from County Meath who continues to have an influence in the political life of Ireland.”