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In ‘pivotal’ election, UK Catholic voters face challenge of applying bishops’ criteria

Church being used as a Polling Station in England. (Credit: Neil Theasby/Creative Commons Licence.)

Three things at least have stayed the same in the pastoral letter issued by the Catholic bishops of England and Wales in advance of the United Kingdom’s general election on June 8.

One is a reminder that all those with the right to vote should do so.

Another is a careful blend of what might be called social issues with life issues. And there is the usual plea for Catholics to check that candidates will stand up for their mostly state-funded schools which serve over 845,000 children.

But the letter, to be read in parishes in England and Wales this weekend, contains two novel features which make it more interesting than the usual fare.

The first is an attempt to draw from a paragraph of Pope Francis’s apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium, a series of general principles to guide the thinking of Catholic voters as they weigh up which party to vote for. The bishops quote its paragraph 183:

“An authentic faith … always involves a deep desire to change the world, to transmit values, to leave this earth somehow better than we found it. We love this magnificent planet on which God has put us, and we love the human family which dwells here, with all its tragedies and struggles, its hopes and aspirations, its strengths and weaknesses. The earth is our common home and all of us are brothers and sisters.”

The bishops deduce from this paragraph the obligation to name and face injustices, the need to protect and nurture the human family as the primary vehicle of mercy and compassion, the need to care about people far away as well as the environment, and the importance of valuing every person as a child of God.

The other ‘new thing’ in the bishops’ letter is Europe, and specifically Britain’s leaving of it.

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Additional reading:

How St John Paul II can stop us becoming a zombie democracy – Catholic Herald


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