During the meeting of the Bishops Conference of Scotland in Glasgow today,
Scotland s Catholic Bishops, meeting for the last time before the expected
General Election, issued the following statement:
The forthcoming election provides an important opportunity for all
Catholics to play a part in shaping the values which will direct the
political activity of the UK Parliament and Government. All citizens
concerned with the Common Good of society must take their democratic
responsibilities seriously and participate in the electoral process. Their
participation however should be informed and in the case of Catholic voters
guided by the teachings of the Church.
In this regard, we highlight the following issues as being of fundamental
importance and ask Catholics to question candidates on them:
RIGHT TO LIFE:
While new threats to life continue to emerge in the form of embryonic
research, human cloning and ˜assisted dying legislation we remain utterly
opposed to the appalling practice of abortion. Each and every human life is
worthy of respect and legal protection from its very beginnings. We seek an
end to legislation that permits this practice and remain supportive of
amendments that limit its effects. This would include reductions in the
legal time limit for abortions.
FREEDOM FROM POVERTY:
We live in a time of grave international tension where poverty exists at
home and abroad on a dehumanising level. Though most in our society have
benefited from economic prosperity, many remain excluded. Meanwhile in other
countries we see poverty and hunger on an appalling scale. We have a duty,
founded in love and solidarity with our fellow citizens and the citizens of
the world to ensure that all have the opportunity to share in the goods of
the earth and the prosperity that human work has created. (*)
In a world where a child dies every 3 seconds and over 100 million children
do not go to school we urge all political parties to accept a binding
commitment to meet the 0.7% of gross national income as aid target by 2010.
In the UK, international aid is currently only half this figure. The funding
of debt relief should be additional to our aid commitment and should not
have economic policy conditions attached other than those which ensure
transparency and good financial accounting.
PROMOTION OF EUROPEAN HARMONY
We see European cooperation as a sign of hope for increased international
solidarity between nations and peoples. Such solidarity is good for society
and the world at large. We hope Europe does not become detached from its
ethical and historical origins founded on Christian beliefs and ideals. The
political processes of the European Union must be increasingly responsive
and transparent in order that its institutions receive the support and
endorsement of Europe s citizens.
President of the Bishops Conference, Cardinal Keith O Brien said; More
than six million abortions have been carried out in the United Kingdom since
the passing of the Abortion Act. They represent a senseless waste of human
life and an attack on vast numbers of humans at their most defenceless. As
the truth of this appalling practice dawns on more and more people, I urge
them to quiz their prospective candidates on the issue and demand that it is
placed at the top of the political agenda.
Vice President of the Bishops Conference, Archbishop Mario Conti commented;
We commend the rich social teaching of the Church to all Catholics and
remind them of the necessity of justice in trade, parity in the assistance
we give to others and the duty of wise stewardship of all our planet s
resources, while we remember at all times our own calling as Christians and
the opportunity this election gives us to carry the values of the Gospel
into the life of society
NOTE TO EDITORS:
1. (*) The Bishops' Conference commend the publication "Prosperity with a
Purpose" launched by CTBI (Churches Together in Britain and Ireland)
recently. Details from CTBI, Bastille Court,2 Paris Garden,London SE1 8ND
020 7654 7220, www.ctbi.org.uk
2. A fuller pastoral letter will be issued by the Scottish Bishops'
Conference prior to the General Election.