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Bishops Put U.K.s Future At Top Of List Of Election Issues

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Bishops Put U.K.s Future At Top Of List Of Election Issues

MANCHESTER, England (CNS) — The bishops of England and
Wales have put the post-Brexit future of the United Kingdom at the top of a
list of priority issues for Catholic voters to consider before the June 8
general election.

In a two-page letter published May 15, the bishops reminded
Catholics of their duty to vote and advised voters to question politicians
seeking their support on a range of 10 key issues.

The consideration at the top of the list was titled “leaving
the European Union,” and voters were asked to determine the attitude of
candidates to the future status of EU citizens who live in the U.K.

The bishops also invited voters to ask candidates what
issues “should be the top priority when forming new international
partnerships,” adding that “human and workers’ rights, the
environment, and the development of the world’s poorest countries” must be

In their preamble, the bishops said the election “takes
place at a pivotal moment in the life of our nations as we prepare to leave the
European Union,” following the outcome of the June 2016 referendum on EU

“To a great extent, the outcome of this election will
determine the approach taken on how this is achieved, the priorities we pursue
and the values we wish to treasure as our own in the U.K. and as partners with
countries around the world,” the bishops said. “It will determine how
we can heal divisions in our society, care for the vulnerable, how our public
services are run and whether we can remain a united kingdom.”

The second question on the list deals with euthanasia and
assisted suicide, with Catholics urged to ask candidates if they would uphold a
2015 House of Commons vote against a bill to permit doctor-assisted death.

Abortion is not explicitly mentioned, but the bishops
suggested that Catholics asked their candidates if they would “support
measures to promote the intrinsic value of life at every stage.”

The bishops also asked voters to press candidates about
their policies on prison reform in face of “unprecedented levels of
violence and suicide.”

They highlighted the need for a fair migration system and
the expansion of schemes to find homes for refugees to the U.K., as a
commitment to protect persecuted minorities overseas, “including Christian

The letter also makes modern slavery and poverty relief both
at home and abroad issues of concern.

In the face of aggressive secularism that has led to
attacks against state-funded Catholic education, voters should question
candidates if they supported the rights of parents to choose Catholic schools
for their children, the bishops suggested.

The eight Scottish bishops also released the text of a
pre-election letter to Catholics May 15, asking voters to focus principally on
issues touching on the sanctity of human life; marriage and the family; poverty;
political asylum; and religious freedom.

In the letter, which will be read out in churches May 20-21,
the bishops included sections on the arms trade and nuclear weapons and on
threats to free speech.

Politics, the bishops said, needed a new direction “where
dialogue is respectful and where different points of view, including those of a
religious nature, are tolerated.”


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