“Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses?” cried the unreformed Ebenezer Scrooge. These days he might add, “Are there no foodbanks?” And he might be surprised to hear that much of the nation’s benefits bill helps people who are in work. For, like the old miser, many employers pay their staff the absolute minimum.

 

And a new report from the St Vincent de Paul Society, Stealing Futures, shows that in-work poverty is blighting the lives of our children and young people. Children as young as seven are aware that their parents are struggling to make ends meet. No 10-year-old should say, “I worry that if I find a job that doesn’t give me much money, I will be poor and homeless.”

 

Scrooge witnessed three spectral apparitions, changed his ways and raised Bob Cratchit’s wages. One can only hope that our present leaders are visited by the Ghost of Christmas Present.

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Scotland’s Catholic bishops have restored the Sunday obligation. Their counterparts in England & Wales have taken a more cautious approach, accepting that, for some people, there may be “certain factors” which deter people from attending Mass in person.

 

Scrooge might ask about foodbanks by Nick Baty
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Professor Peter Openshaw, a health advisor to Number 10 says he would not feel safe going to a Christmas party. And Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey says “snogging under the mistletoe” should be avoided.

 

But the Prime Minister says we should party on. “Christmas this year will be considerably better than Christmas last year”, he says.

 

It may well be. We won’t know the results until the end of January.

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This year’s Christmas Midnight Mass will be broadcast on BBC1 from St Chad’s Cathedral, Birmingham. There will be no congregation and worshippers are invited to attend from home. It’s probably a sensible move, given the problems of accommodating one of the largest congregations of the year.

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Could the Church of England top the Christmas charts? A new setting of In the Bleak Midwinter? By Rebecca Dale has been recorded by St Martin’s Voices and was released on 01 December. You can stream or download In the Bleak Midwinter here. We wish Rebecca every success. Hard to imagine Christ getting a mention in our increasingly secular Christmas.