In light of the upcoming general election in the United Kingdom next month, Catholic Church leaders in Scotland are hoping to combat “apathy” among voters and are urging the faithful to make their “faith count” at the ballot box.
“It is crucially important that apathy is not allowed to win in this election,” said Cardinal Keith O'Brien, president of Scotland's Bishops' Conference, last Thursday. “I hope Catholic voters will make the cross count by quizzing their candidates on the important moral matters which affect us and that they use the resources which the Bishops' Conference has provided to inform themselves on as wide a range of issues as possible.”
The Scottish prelate gave his remarks on the release of a general statement from bishops in Scotland, titled, “Make your faith count!” The election message will be made available to the Catholic faithful in all 500 parishes throughout the country.
Urging Catholics to consider what hangs in the balance this election, the bishops pointed out that the “political choices we face today are not the choices your parents and grandparents faced.”
“They would never have voted for any candidate who refused to protect unborn human life, who supported experimentation on human embryos, or planned to assist unfortunate people to commit suicide. They would never have voted for a candidate who would undermine marriage and family in the way that has happened in recent years with cross-party support. They would never have voted for candidates who rejoiced in same sex unions,” the bishops said.
Continuing the list of recent political decisions unfavorable to Catholics, the Scottish bishops wrote, “They would never have voted for candidates who would stop the Church offering adoption services. They would never have voted for candidates who were clearly hostile to the values they held dear. Your parents and grandparents voted for those they believed shared the same fundamental Christian values as they did. It is for us to do likewise to shape a society where the dignity of each individual and life itself is respected.”
“As Catholics we know the importance of protecting every human life and of the value that married family life gives to society,” the bishops added. “These values were once widely shared but times have changed. Many of those standing for election, of whatever party, do not share our basic principles and values.”
“That is why we say to you: when you vote, make your faith count. Vote with your faith to protect human life; to support marriage and the family; to protect religious freedom; to protect Catholic education. Vote with your faith, and uphold the right of conscience and religious freedom,” the Catholic bishops advocated.
“In urging you to let your faith count at the ballot box, we ask you to think carefully before you cast your vote. Which candidate displays values closest to yours? Which candidate will best respect and protect your religious freedom and your freedom of conscience? Which candidate do you trust most to do a good job for you and your community?”
“As your bishops, it is not our intention to tell you which party to vote for,” the prelates noted. “It is our duty to encourage you to engage with the political process and to vote for the candidate who best represents the values we, like our parents and grandparents before us, hold dear.”