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Archdiocese of Southwark
UK News

Honest political discourse depends upon integrity, say Catholic bishops

by Press Association

The Catholic Bishops of England and Wales said in a statement that honest political debate depends upon integrity.

But Archbishop of Southwark John Wilson said the church was also concerned by the Chief Rabbi raising the issue of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party.

He said that, while the church did not comment on particular party-political comments, it was concerned that Ephraim Mirvis had spoken about members of his community being frightened in this country.

In a column in the Times on Tuesday, Rabbi Mirvis staged an unprecedented intervention, saying that anti-Semitism in the Labour Party is a "poison - sanctioned from the top".

Speaking to reporters on Friday, Archbishop Wilson said the Catholic Church had a long tradition of speaking out against oppression, xenophobia and racism.

He added: "We would not look at particular party-political comments but we are concerned the Chief Rabbi expressed his concerns that members of his community are frightened in this country.

"Of that we are concerned."

The Catholic Bishops of England and Wales said the forthcoming General Election is "profoundly important" to the nation and Catholics cannot simply "watch from the balcony".

They added: "We ask everyone to engage with the election and vote.

"Honest political discourse depends upon integrity.

"We urge all in public life to recognise that telling the truth, not making vindictive and abusive comments or unattainable promises, are essential."

Archbishop Wilson said that, while public life is a "noble vocation", politicians and elected officials should be able to exercise that in a way that "promotes the well-being of everyone".

The bishops said that, while Brexit dominated political discourse, no matter what the UK's future relationship with Europe was, Britain must be committed to "positive engagement as a key international partner".

They urged people deciding how to vote to consider candidates' positions on issues such as abortion, assisted dying and euthanasia, tackling the climate emergency, and migration and refugees.

The bishops also said people should consider how candidates would uphold the "cherishing of marriage" and the rights of parents to educate their children in accordance with their faith.

Archbishop Wilson said: "One of the key questions about the many policies being proposed are how they affect the weakest, the poorest and the most disadvantaged."

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