Bishops launch pre-election leaflet

 An updated, slimmed-down version of the Common Good was launched by Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor on Friday, in preparation for the forthcoming General Election. The Cardinal said: "The voice of the church is an important one. We are a minority but we are influential. We are not suggesting how people should vote but we are asking them to consider the question: 'How can my vote best serve the Common Good?'" 'Vote for the Common Good' produced by the Catholic bishops of England and Wales, covers much of the same ground as the groundbreaking The Common Good and the Catholic Church's Social Teaching, issued in 1996. However, it also deals with several new issues. The leaflet has a new emphasis on the need for society to support the family. In the light of their pastoral research, the bishops have called for voters to question candidates over their views on abortion, euthanasia and genetic research; to discover where they stand on issues of crime and punishment; and the humane treatment of people seeking asylum in this country. The leaflet also raises the subject of the need to support the three million family carers. Cardinal Cormac said it was necessary to consider candidates' views on all of these issues, before deciding who to vote for. He encouraged Catholics to take part in ecumenical discussions with their local candidates. Speaking in Birmingham, Archbishop Vincent Nichols, who was a member of the Bishops' Conference working party for 'Vote for the Common Good' said: "A moral chasm has been opened up in British society by recent legislation which denies human lives the value that is inherently theirs by the gift of God. Our fundamental attitude to human life is now riddled with contradictions. On the one hand, a wanted human life is sought and cherished at great cost; on the other, an unwanted life is readily destroyed. "Voters at the forthcoming General Election should keep in mind not only the political programmes presented to them, but also the moral values implicit in them. In fact, moral issues are often central to political choices. "The statement issued today by the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales puts forward key principles by which moral issues are to be examined and choices made. This statement urges voters, when casting their votes, to think not only of their own immediate good but also of the common good. Ultimately there is no real contradiction between the two. "I urge voters to question their prospective Parliamentary candidates about their moral views, not only about our response to world poverty and the arms race, but also regarding embryo experimentation, human cloning, abortion and euthanasia. A stance on these key issues can be very revealing of a candidate's overall values and priorities." Posters, and 300,000 copies of the 16-page leaflet are being distributed to parishes across the country - for use by individuals or groups. The document is also available on:

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