Baroness Warsi told an audience of Catholics this week that the Government is seeking to deepen its engagement with faith communities as it seeks to make the Big Society a reality.
Speaking at a conference on social responsibility this week, the minister said the Government could learn from the work of faith communities at home and abroad, as she praised the contribution of the Catholic Church to the development of society and education in particular.
She spoke of the “huge contribution” of the Catholic Church to the lives of ordinary people and “how this has helped shape Big Society principles”.
Baroness Warsi went on to say that the State had “sapped” responsibility from individuals and that the “top-down, big Government approach” had “failed Britain.
She said the Government had launched the Big Society initiative to challenge citizens to think about the personal and social consequences of their behaviour, and to encourage communities to take ownership of their community and find ways to positively transform them.
The Big Society, she said, is about “a new culture of personal, social, and corporate responsibility and it demands that we all learn from the lessons of recent decades and put a genuine commitment to the common good of others at the heart of all we are doing”.
“We are our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers, wherever they live,” she said.
She added: “This Government recognises and respects the role that religion and people of faith play in our society.”
The Big Society has been greeted by a mixture of support and suspicion from Christians. The Jubilee Centre echoed the concerns of many Christians when it recently warned that the Government not to sidestep its responsibilities by passing them on to third sector organisations.
It also warned that red tape was putting people of faith in particular off volunteering, despite the recognised need for the involvement of faith groups in the Big Society.