Blogging from Hyde Park,waiting for The Pope to arrive to conduct a Vigil and Benediction .Though as I am sitting in front of a large crowd of enthusiastic teenagers it feels more like Pop Concert than Vigil! At least the autumn sun is shining on my 4hour long wait!
The Dinner last night was particularly entertaining ,and very fruitful as over half the Cabinet were there. I was able to have word with IDS and encourage him to push for the investment we need to secure a major role for third sector organizations in delivering welfare to work reform. A long discussion with Eric Pickles on localism. I was making the point that we need to safeguard minorities who "neighbourhoods" may not approve of.Eric did say that this was an issue that worried him and suggested we talk further.
I had a very engaging chat with Nat Wei about our recent Blog exchange. And to be fair to him he said that the point he had made about the dangers of bureaucracy in charities he had applied to big and small charities. I said that the professional and organized sector wanted to work with him on what could be achieved through the ideas behind Big Society.
But now from the politicians to the Church. My favourite 2 C of E bishops there ; the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of London. but the highlight was being introduced to the Vatican's Secretary of State ,Cardinal Bertone by William Hague. I explained about the work of Euclid in drawing together civil society leaders across Europe. I said we were in discussion with the Vatican Cor Unum on the potential for a meeting of Leaders with the Pope. I was being translated into Italian but He seemed interested. And I was sat at dinner between Eric and HM Ambassador to the Holy See. He had a fascinating take on differences between leadership styles across multi national bodies. And it was interesting to see who crossed themselves at the Grace, particularly the Latin retiring Grace given by Cardinal Bertone.
It was good to see 3 Acevo members at the dinner, led by that great example of a strong third sector Leader ,Chris Bains of CAFOD.
But now I return to Hyde Park, listening to the stories of a range of speakers from an asylum seeker,a young person who is working with refugges from Burma. And now the hymns....
The visit has been interesting
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