English bishops give moral instruction in new document

The Roman Catholic bishops of England and Wales issued a 103-page document yesterday, called “Cherishing Life”, which outlines the teachings of the Church on a range of modern moral problems, including abortion, euthanasia, divorce, contraception, homosexuality and Catholics’ involvement in political life.

The document warns of a slide toward a culture of death and urges voters to vote for political candidates, based on their moral positions. People must take personal responsibility for their actions and must make decisions for the common good, they said.

On BBC Radio 4's Today program, Cormac Cardinal Murphy O'Connor noted that there are 180,000 abortions a year in England and Wales. He underscored the calls for euthanasia and stem-cell research.

"We all have a responsibility to create a culture of life,” he said.

The document emphasizes the Church’s concern with abortion, the demand for legalized euthanasia, and diminished respect in society for the elderly, for marriage and for the family.

The bishops consider the high rates of abortion and divorce, poor housing, unemployment, low income, violence and crime as threats to family stability, reported The Guardian. They are critical of in vitro fertilization and cloning, and discourage granting equal rights for married and cohabiting couples.

They also criticize the popular perception of the sexual act as a recreational activity as well as the assumption that “normal teenagers” are sexually active.

The sexual act should only take place between married couples, the bishops said, and not understood in terms of “technique” but “mutual communication.”

The bishops also underlined that the Church condemns all forms of unjust discrimination, violence or abuse toward homosexuals. And, while the Church does not condone homosexual sexual activity, “homosexual orientation must never be considered sinful or evil in itself."

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