The Petition of residents of the UK,
Declares that the future of St Raphael’s Hospice has been put in doubt by plans drawn up by Daughters of the Cross, a charity who fund the hospice, and by plans to sell off St Anthony’s hospital which shares the site with the hospice and provides administrative and other support services worth up to a million pounds a year; further that the sale of the hospital will break the funding link with the hospice and undermine the Christian character of the institution; further that the Petitioners regret that rather than engaging with the staff and supporters of the hospice and hospital to find a mutually agreed solution to the future of both institutions the charity has pursued a course of action that is not widely supported; and further that the Trustees have failed to grasp that the success and respect in which both institutions are held is the result of a shared endeavour between themselves, the staff and volunteers and the local community who raise and donate the funds to pay for them.
The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons thank Her Majesty’s Government for raising the matter with the relevant authorities in the Vatican; further that the House urges the Papal authorities to intervene to protect the ethos of St Anthony’s hospital and its special relationship with St Raphael’s Hospice; and further that the House holds a debate on the future of St Raphael’s Hospice and possible ways forward.
And the Petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Paul Burstow, Official Report, 20 November 2013; Vol. 570, c. 1341.]
Observations from the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs:
I understand the strength of feeling about this issue, particularly amongst the constituents of Sutton and Cheam. It is clear that St Raphael’s Hospice plays an important role within the community, providing a dignified and caring environment for those with serious illnesses. The British Government are committed to giving hospices the support they need to carry out these vital duties and awarded an extra £60 million in Government funding to hospices across England earlier this year. We believe this investment is crucial as we face the challenge of caring for an ageing population and supporting their families. Hospices such as St Raphael’s play an increasingly important role in delivering this care and support.
I understand that the Daughters of the Cross, who act as the Trustees for St Raphael’s, are members of an International Order of Religious Sisters who are subject to the jurisdiction of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and for Societies of Apostolic Life, based in Rome within the Roman Curia of the Holy See. In July 2013, the British Ambassador to the Holy See met Archbishop Jose Rodriguez Carballo, the Secretary of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and raised the concerns of the local community about the future of St Raphael’s Hospice. The Archbishop confirmed he was aware of the issue and assured the Ambassador that he would look carefully at the case. He did make clear that the decision on the future of St Raphael’s was ultimately one for the Trustees but advised that he would give guidance to the Trustees on the basis of the known preference of the Church that such good works should continue to be run on Catholic lines.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office also suggested that the Honourable Member for Sutton and Cheam raise this issue with the Apostolic Nuncio in the UK, Archbishop Mennini. I understand that this meeting took place recently and that Archbishop Mennini recognised the Honourable Member’s concerns. The British Government values the work of the Daughters of the Cross in running St Raphael’s Hospice and understands their difficulties in maintaining these responsibilities. I very much hope a sustainable solution can be found.