Sorrow at death of MP and former Church Action on Poverty coordinator

Sorrow at death of MP and former Church Action on Poverty coordinator

By staff writers
9 Jan 2014

Church Action on Poverty has expressed "deep sadness" at the death of their former CEO, Paul Goggins MP, aged just 60 years.

He was admitted to Salford Royal hospital with a suspected brain haemorrhage after collapsing while out running on 30 December and died in hospital on the evening of 7 January 2014.

Mr Goggins, latterly an influential Labour MP, was Church Action on Poverty’s second National Coordinator, from 1989 until his election to the Westminster Parliament in 1997.

He oversaw the development of Church Action on Poverty into a powerful voice for and on behalf of people experiencing poverty across the UK and was a champion of Catholic Social Teaching.

This included establishing the Churches’ National Housing Coalition in 1990, and overseeing the groundbreaking ‘Local People National Voice’ project, which for the first time sought to give a platform for the voices of people with direct personal experience of poverty to be heard on the local and national stage.

The initiative culminated in the first National Poverty Hearing in Westminster Central Hall in 1996.

Mr Goggins also co-founded the all-party group supporting the Catholic development charity CAFOD and was secretary of the one on poverty.

On the issue of same-sex marriage he remained loyal to the official teaching of his Church, and was one of the few Labour MPs to vote against, to the disappointment of some friends and allies. But Martin Pendergast, a gay Catholic and founder of the Cutting Edge Consortium on equality explained: "Although Paul Goggins was not convinced by the detail of the Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Act 2013, he supported civil partnerships legislation and voted consistently for progressive LGBT rights legislation.

"When he foresaw religiously controversial aspects arising, he was always prompt to seek advice, and find ways through, which would enable him and other Catholic MPs to vote in favour. He applied his principles of social justice to this area of political policy, finding no conflict between his support for LGBT people and his Catholic faith. Indeed, he said once that he gave such support because of, and not in spite of, his theological and social justice beliefs."

Paul Goggins worked hard to persuade the Coalition government to end the system under which foster children had to leave their families before their 18th birthday, and he chaired the Cardinal Hume Centre for the young homeless in Westminster.

Niall Cooper, Paul Goggins’ successor and current Director of Church Action on Poverty, said: “Paul was a man of great personal warmth and deep conviction. His personal commitment to social justice and to championing the cause of people suffering from poverty and injustice both at home and abroad shone through in everything he did.

"Paul will be missed hugely by all those who knew him personally or who were touched by his work. Our deepest sympathies and prayers in particular are with Wyn and the family on their tragic loss.”

Lewis Rose, chair of Church Action on Poverty, said: “We very much appreciated Paul’s contribution in Church Action on Poverty, and later in Parliament, to tackling the issues of poverty and injustice. Our thoughts are with Paul’s family now.”

A committed Catholic and one-time seminarian, Paul Goggins served as the Member of Parliament for Wythenshawe and Sale East from 1997 until his death this week. He was also previously a Minister of State at the Northern Ireland Office.

* Church Action on Poverty: http://www.church-poverty.org.uk

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