German Bishops Offer Guidelines for Federal Elections

Development, Justice and Respect for Life Among Key Points

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BERLIN, SEPT. 6, 2002 ( The German bishops’ conference offered guidelines for the Sept. 22 elections to the federal Parliament.

The bishops base themselves on the «Christian understanding of man and on social coexistence aimed at safeguarding the dignity of the person and creating a human society,» offering «directional criteria for a long-term policy.»

«Sustainable development, the common good and social justice» are the principles highlighted by the bishops in order to make a «responsible electoral choice.»

The next German chancellor will emerge from the forthcoming elections. The candidates are Gerhard Schröder, the present chancellor and candidate of the Social Democratic Party, and Edmund Stoiber, candidate of the Christian Democratic Union of Germany.

The document was summarized in the form of a brief appeal, which will be read this Sunday at Masses throughout the country.

The episcopate stressed protection of the life of the weakest, especially the unborn, and condemned experimentation with, or the use of, human embryos for medical research.

The bishops appealed to Catholics to give special thought to marriage and the family before voting, stating that conjugal union must remain as the «ideal model for the majority of people.»

Unemployment too is an «absolute priority» which must be addressed by the next legislature, they said. Equally important is the issue of «formation as the basis of a society able to have a future,» the bishops said.

In the international realm, the conference encouraged greater commitment to «a common, global well-being,» and deplored the lack of funds allocated by Germany for cooperation in development. It also calls for greater effort to safeguard peace in the world.

The bishops’ conference «expressly supports the European Union,» and emphasized the need for a Constitution that will correspond «above all, to the spirit of Christianity and the European religious heritage.»

Recalling the recent floods in Germany, the bishops in their manifesto stressed the need for greater protection of the environment, in keeping with the principle of sustainable development.

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