The following message was read at all Sunday Masses in Scotland over the weekend. The Bishops of Scotland regard the forthcoming election as extremely important. We encourage all our people to vote, and to "make the cross count". Many important issues will be decided on May 5. As Pastors, we highlight six, which we believe deserve special attention when it comes to deciding how to vote. THE RIGHT TO LIFE: Human life is under new threats. Abortion is legal up until birth; 'assisted dying' legislation threatens the elderly and sick, and the human embryo is subject to experimentation and destruction. We decisively reject this "culture of death". We regard each and every human life as sacred and urge candidates for election to support measures offering better protection for human life from conception until natural death. FREEDOM FROM POVERTY: At home and abroad, poverty dehumanizes lives. Therefore we favour new national initiatives to combat unemployment, material and cultural poverty and the demoralization of the human spirit through addiction, crime or deprivation. Overseas we ask politicians to accept a binding commitment to meet the 0.7% of national income as aid target by 2010. (In the UK, international aid is currently only half this figure.) In addition we renew our call to politicians to lift the burden of unpayable debt from developing countries and "make poverty history", PROMOTION OF EUROPEAN HARMONY We see European co-operation as a sign of hope for increased international solidarity between peoples and a guarantee of peace in our continent. Such solidarity is good for society and the world at large. We urge candidates to take a positive attitude to the development of the European Union, so that it might better serve all the citizens of Europe. MARRIAGE AND FAMILY Marriage is a unique relationship of love between man and woman and is the origin of family life. Laws, which propose alternative relationships as equivalent to marriage damage society and should not be supported. SOCIAL JUSTICE On asylum and immigration, policies are needed which respect the right of people to seek sanctuary/asylum in our country and improve their own economic conditions, while contributing to the common wealth of the nation. We support efforts to foster respect for racial, ethnic and religious differences. PEACE We must promote peace. War must always be a last resort. We should recall the words of the late Pope John Paul II, 'Wars generally do not resolve the problems for which they are fought and therefore, in addition to causing horrendous damage, they prove ultimately futile. War is a defeat for humanity.' A more detailed statement on election issues is available on the website of the Catholic Parliamentary Office and can be viewed at: www.rcpolitics.org.uk Source: Scottish Catholic Media Office
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