‘Be humble’: Lord Speaker reflects on long career at Jesuit Missions’ event

Lord McFall answering audience questions

The Speaker of the House of Lords, Lord McFall of Alcluith, has urged politicians to remember the importance of humility when seeking to improve society.

At an event hosted by the international mission and development organisation, Jesuit Missions, last Wednesday (20 March), the Lord Speaker drew on his experience as a former political representative, when discussing the responsibility that comes with being a parliamentarian.

In his personal talk, delivered at the London Jesuit Centre in Mayfair, Lord McFall drew parallels between politics and religion, suggesting “humility” and “common purpose” should act as “watchwords” for both.

“The more I’ve been in politics, the more I appreciate that we need to be humble,” he said.

“We live in a discordant, fractured world, where we encounter polarisation, populism and post-truth. While I’ve now got a non-political role, I still observe these issues.”

Lord McFall, who served as an MP for 23 years before entering the House of Lords in 2010, pointed out that both religion and politics are meant to work for the common good, and that there is often crossover between the two.

He spoke of Pope Leo XIII’s support for workers’ rights in 1891 in “Rerum Novarum”, Pope Benedict XVI’s criticism of governments’ approach to dealing with trade unions and the mismanaged response to the 2007-08 banking crisis cited by Pope Francis.

He encouraged everyone, including politicians, to use the best elements of religion – “faith, hope and charity” – in their lives.

Referencing the Old Testament book of Micah, Lord McFall recalled: “This is what Yahweh asks of us. Only this. To act justly, love tenderly, walk humbly with your God.”

The Director of Jesuit Missions, Paul Chitnis, said: “In a world where hope feels in short supply at the moment, it is vital to have public figures like Lord McFall reminding us that faith communities play an important role in building a more just and hopeful national and global society.”

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