|UK elections: message from Bishops
|March 30, 2010
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| The Catholic Bishops of England and Wales this week are putting out a message encouraging all Catholics to use their vote in the forthcoming General Election and to seek parliamentary candidates who will serve the common good.
The short message complements 'Choosing the Common Good' - the Bishops' recent document about Catholic Social Teaching. It sets out some of the considerations all voters should have in mind when making choices on how to vote, but clearly states that the Bishops are not advocating any particular political party as that is not their role.
"We depend on each other. And we need a Government that draws out what is best in all of us, and which aims to serve the common good. So the fundamental question we each need to ask ourselves in deciding who to vote for is not who will best serve me, but who will best serve the common good of all of us."
The areas of focus pick on some of the themes explored in 'Choosing the Common Good': Valuing Life; Family; Migration; Supporting the development of the world's poor; the environment; the importance of religious belief.
The document concludes:
"Our faith is at the heart of our lives. Religious belief is not just something private: it helps create a society that wants to see everyone flourish. It has a contribution to make and must be allowed to do so in accordance with its teachings.
"Whoever you decide to vote for, from whichever political party you decide to support, send back to Parliament someone who understands and will work for the common good."
The full message from the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales follows:
Shortly we will be choosing our next Government. It is an important responsibility and all Catholics should use their vote.
There are questions to be asked about the party you are considering voting for, and about the particular candidate. This message sets out some of the considerations we should all have in mind when making those choices. As Bishops we are not advocating any particular political party. That is not our role.
There are limits to what any Government can do on its own. On their own, targets, rules and regulations cannot improve the quality of our shared life. People do that. They do it by choosing the common good rather than pure self interest. We are all responsible and we need to put our moral values to work in a spirit of neighbourliness and mutual support. That is what happens in a crisis, but we need to see it every day as well. We depend on each other. And we need a Government that draws out what is best in all of us, and which aims to serve the common good.
So the fundamental question we each need to ask ourselves in deciding who to vote for is not who will best serve me, but who will best serve the common good of all of us.
This is about restoring trust at the heart of our society: trust in each other and in our institutions to do the right thing by choice, not by constraint.
In early March 2010 we published a pamphlet "Choosing the Common Good" which explores these ideas more fully. We encourage you to study and discuss it. It can be obtained from Alive Publishing or downloaded from www.catholicchurch.org.uk <http://www.catholicchurch.org.uk/>
Overleaf we note some specific issues and questions which we believe are particularly important. We encourage you to ask Parliamentary candidates where they stand on these issues.
We also ask you to pray for God's guidance on the choices we all make, and for His guidance for our future Government and for all those who are called to serve society as Members of Parliament.
Some issues and Questions for Parliamentary Candidates
Here are some issues and questions which may help inform your decision on who to vote for. They are open questions with no single 'right' answer. But from the responses given you may form a better idea of how far any particular candidate will be addressing the needs of the common good. You may well, of course, have other questions of your own to ask. This list is not exhaustive.
Firstly in valuing life. That means opposing abortion and euthanasia, and life-cramping poverty, and the neglect of the elderly.
What does respect for life mean to you? Do all lives have the same value? Older people and the infirm ... the severely disabled ... the unborn?
Families are the basic building block of any stable society. Marriage provides the best context for bringing up children and must have the clear support and encouragement of Government.
What will you do for marriage and the family? What practical measures will you take to encourage and support stable family life and the institution of marriage?
Migration is not about numbers, it is about human beings. Wherever the Government sets the boundary on who can or cannot live here, it must apply its rules with fairness, decency and respect for the individual.
What beliefs and values underpin your approach to migration? And how will you show them in practice?
Our care for each other is also shown in how we support the development of the world's poorest people, and how we use - or abuse - the environment we share. We must be good stewards of God's creation, not selfish exploiters of it.
What do you think is our responsibility to the poor, in this country and overseas? What is our responsibility to safeguard and protect the, environment?
Our faith is at the heart of our lives. Religious belief is not just something private: it helps create a society that wants to see everyone flourish. It has a contribution to make and must be allowed to do so in accordance with its teachings.
What do you think is the place of religion in society?
Whoever you decide to vote for, from whichever political party you decide to support, send back to Parliament someone who understands and will work for the common good.
Keep this paper by your front door for when canvassers or candidates call.