Election Statement from the Catholic Bishops
Date 28 April 2005
REFLECTIONS ON THE MOST SIGNIFICANT ISSUES
OF THE 2005 GENERAL ELECTION
The forthcoming election provides an important opportunity for all citizens to decide the character and policy of the next Government. All concerned with the Common Good should take their democratic responsibilities seriously and participate in the electoral process. Such participation, however, should be informed - and in the case of Catholic voters - guided by the teachings of the Church. In this regard, Scotland s Catholic Bishops highlight the following issues as being of fundamental importance:
THE RIGHT TO LIFE:
The appalling practice of abortion must always be opposed. Each and every human being is worthy of respect and legal protection from its very beginning. We remain supportive of any amendment to the law which would reduce the number of abortions, especially late term abortions, carried out in the UK.
New threats to life continue to emerge in the form of human cloning and ˜assisted dying legislation. Euthanasia deliberately conspires at the killing of the patient and must be opposed.
Palliative care (as provided in hospices) is the morally acceptable alternative to euthanasia.
The cloning of embryos to provide embryonic stem cells for therapeutic use (so-called therapeutic cloning ) is immoral and cannot be supported. There is a moral and realistic alternative in the use of adult stem cells.
FREEDOM FROM POVERTY:
Poverty exists at home and abroad on a dehumanising level. While relative in our own society it is absolute in many parts of the world. Though most in our society have benefited from economic prosperity, many remain excluded. We have a duty, then, 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 prioritise the fight against global poverty and work towards making poverty history .
Hosting the G8 summit provides an unrivalled opportunity to influence development policy. The UK should insist that the EU withdraw its demand for water to be included in the General Agreement on Trade in Services and put pressure on the World Bank and IMF to stop imposing trade conditions on poor countries.
The UK Government has promised to commit 0.7% of its national wealth in aid to countries in the developing world. Currently, we provide less than half of that. This year our elected representatives must keep their word to the poor by honouring this commitment. It should not have economic policy conditions attached other than to ensure transparency and good financial accounting. Human needs must always take priority over debt repayments.
PROMOTION OF EUROPEAN HARMONY
We see European cooperation as a sign of hope for increased international solidarity between nations and peoples. Such solidarity and harmonisation is good for our own society, good for Europe, and good for the world at large. However Europe must not become detached from its ethical and historical origins founded on Christian beliefs and ideals recognizing also the important ethical contributions of other faith communities. The political processes of the European Union should be increasingly responsive and transparent in order that its institutions receive the support and endorsement of Europe s citizens.
MARRIAGE AND THE FAMILY.
The Church s social policy is based firmly on the family. Marriage is a unique relationship of love between man and woman and is the origin of family life. Laws which obscure this reality or propose alternative relationships as equivalent to marriage cannot be supported.
The Gospel inspires us to show solidarity with all those affected, in whatever way, by injustice. On asylum and immigration, policies are needed which respect the right of people to seek sanctuary/asylum in our country and better their own economic conditions, while contributing to the common wealth of the nation. We support efforts to foster respect for racial, ethnic and religious differences.
We are called at all levels to promote peace. War must always be a last resort. We should recall the words of the late Pope John Paul II, ˜Wars generally do not resolve the problems for which they are fought and therefore, in addition to causing horrendous damage, they prove ultimately futile. War is a defeat for humanity.
There are many areas of politics where Catholics can legitimately differ in their views. While the Church has a richly developed social doctrine, it is not her task to engage in the formulation of economic policy, nor is it her role to propose answers to those pragmatic questions which are the responsibility of elected politicians.
The Church s concern is to propose sure principles on which ethical political, social and economic theories can rest, so as to assist in the promotion of a harmonious and just society committed to the common good
At this election we have an opportunity of making a difference. We should grasp it.
Prepared by the Bishops Conference of Scotland. April 2005