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Listen to me, not Brand, says Nichols

27 February 2015


On message: In an online video on his Trews news channel on Youtube, Russell Brand praised the Church of England pastoral letter. "The fact is you can't divorce politics from morality and spirituality. . . Me and the Church are saying the same thing. Politics is broken."

On message: In an online video on his Trews news channel on Youtube, Russell Brand praised the Church of England pastoral letter. "The fact is you c...

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 society.

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 adopt it.

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 four-page letter.

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