THE Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, has
urged Roman Catholics to listen to him rather than Russell Brand,
and vote in the General Election in May.
He said that Christians had a duty to take part in the
democratic process and be good citizens. When asked what he would
say to disillusioned voters tempted by Mr Brand's dismissal of
voting, he said: "I would ask them to pay more attention to me than
to him. We have been called to play a part in this society, and to
be good citizens."
Cardinal Nichols was speaking on Tuesday at the launch of a
letter to RCs from the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and
Wales about the election. The letter encourages voters to reflect
on the main priorities of Catholic social teaching before voting,
and suggests questions to ask of candidates.
Cardinal Nichols said that apathetic Roman Catholics should
"stir themselves". "I know it has been hard going, and I know the
level of debate is much more about playing the man than playing the
ball, but we have to do it," he said. "We have these ten weeks to
try to raise the game and make sure some of the debates are across
the crucial issues."
The Bishops' letter reaffirms RC opposition to abortion and
assisted suicide, and calls on RC voters to find out where
candidates in the election stand on "life issues". It suggests that
promoting families and marriage, as well as tackling poverty,
should be the priorities of politicians.
On Europe, the letter calls for the principles of "solidarity
and subsidiarity" to be protected in debates over the EU, and also
warns of the danger of blaming immigrants for problems in
It also backs the Living Wage, overseas aid, and calls on the
next Government to protect religious freedom, and specifically the
choice of RC parents to send their children to RC schools.
When questioned by reporters on the Living Wage, Cardinal
Nichols said that everyone employed by the Bishops' Conference and
his archdiocese of Westminster was paid at least the London Living
Wage (currently £9.15 an hour). He also said that the Bishops'
Conference had endorsed the concept of the Living Wage in 2012, and
that all RC parishes, schools, and charities were encouraged to
The letter concludes: "Together with the state and politicians,
we are responsible for the kind of society we build. In deciding
how we vote, the question for each of us is then: how, in the light
of the gospel, can my vote best serve the common good?"
Every parish in England and Wales will receive a copy of the