In a letter being distributed to all parishes in Scotland over the next two weeks, Scotland's Catholic Bishops highlight the need for participation in the political process and provide guidance for those deciding how to vote.
"We urge Catholics to recognise the great merit of public service and to recognise the necessity of responsible participation in political life. Exercising the right to vote is an integral part of such participation and must be done in accord with one's conscience formed by the teachings of the Church."
Issues discussed in the Bishops' letter include the need for social policies aimed at strengthening and protecting family values, helping the vulnerable members of society, promotion of religious freedom, support for denominational education and sensible, effective health care policies.
The Church's parliamentary officer, Mr. John Deighan said: "The Bishops have asked each voter to weigh up the policies and views of the political parties in relation with the teachings of the Church. Politics is not an area where people's faith and consciences can be set aside. The Bishops' letter is, therefore, a reminder of the duty people have to apply their faith in every aspect of life. It does not attempt to give easy answers to political questions but to highlight some of the principles that must always be considered."
Catholic Parliamentary Officer
Tel/Fax: 0141 222 2182