Scots Catholic bishops show how to address the public square

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

1. We, the Catholic Bishops of Scotland, greet you in the name of the risen Christ. As we continue to celebrate the mystery of Easter, we renew our hope in Jesus Christ as the source of our salvation.

2. Elections to the Scottish Parliament and to Local Authorities are approaching. Each of us is called to make practical political choices for the sake of the common good of the people of Scotland. These choices should be made in conformity with our faith in Christ.

3. The Bishops recognise that many people in politics work conscientiously to achieve good, and we commend them to you. At the same time we cannot fail to notice a conflict of values in society. This conflict of values is reflected in the political sphere in policies, social legislation and regulations which are seriously at odds with the insights and values of our Christian faith and of other faiths.

4. The Bishops remain deeply concerned about legislation which allows abortion, embryo experimentation, easy divorce and civil partnerships. We have always campaigned against poverty, deprivation and injustice. We have raised our voices against a new generation of nuclear weapons. We foresee with apprehension a campaign to legalise euthanasia. We find ourselves having to counter criticism of the very existence of Catholic schools, in large part prompted by an agenda which aims to remove religion from the public sphere.

5. As well as these serious matters, Government has advanced proposals which imply a stealthy and unjust attack on the freedom of religion itself and on the rights of conscience. Earlier this year new regulations were enacted at Westminster which could prevent Catholic adoption agencies from carrying out their work according to the Catholic and Christian vision of family life. Last year, in the face of widespread opposition, the Scottish Parliament extended the right to adopt to unmarried and same sex couples. These dubious innovations are detrimental not just to the good of the Catholic community but to the common good of humanity as a whole. They deserve to be challenged at the ballot box.

6. The coming elections give us an opportunity to vote wisely and to choose the best political representatives for our communities. Many of those standing share our Christian values. There are signs of a desire for an authentic Christian voice in politics serving the common good of people of all faiths and none.

7. Your Bishops urge you to use your vote to support the candidates who offer the best chance of bringing the voice of a truly human and Christian civilisation to the decision-making chambers of our country. We invite you to look beyond the superficially attractive and fashionable to recognise those policies and values which are most in tune with the dignity of the human person and with the common good of our society.

8. To help you vote, we attach with this letter a number of questions you may wish to consider yourself and put to your election candidates.

9. Our faith is in the risen Christ. We are all to witness to Him even in our political choices, in the hope that we can make his love for all men and women more effective in our country!

May God bless you all.

Yours devotedly in Christ,

Scottish Catholic Media Office Catholic Bishops urge voters to challenge attacks on Christian values “at the ballot box”

The Scottish Catholic Media Office provides a service to the press and media, offering them information and guidance on the activities of the Church in Scotland. The Office is responsible to the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland through its National Communications Commission, whose President is Bishop Joseph Devine.

“The Church cannot fail to be ever more deeply involved in the burgeoning world of communications. There must be an active and imaginative engagement of the media by the Church.” Pope John Paul II

Notice that this statement begins with a doxology. This is the only way an announcement or document of the Christian Church can begin. Let’s pick up some of these good habits, shall we?

Now I want to see an English, Anglican (and Catholic) Media Office. It would look like the Anglican Communion Office but will present the views of the Church of England, in the closest possible association with the Roman Catholic Church of England and Wales, to the nation, its government and media. It will be more than a news service (press statements of church news). It will set out the proposals of the Christian Church for the public policy of this nation. Its pronouncements should be shorter versions of the speeches of our remarkable Archbishop of Canterbury, but they will be issued by the bishops of the Church of England as a whole, wherever possible together with the Conference of the Roman Catholic bishops.

Can you fix that for me?