Bishops Prepare for U.K. Elections

Say Society Is Everyone’s Responsibility

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LONDON, MARCH 5, 2010 ( The bishops of England and Wales are offering a perspective on the key issues of the June general election, releasing this week a 19-page booklet called «Choosing the Common Good.»

The booklet aims to present «some of the underlying principles and values by which we seek to construct a just and civil society,» it notes. The publication anticipates not only the general election, but also Benedict XVI’s trip to the United Kingdom, planned for September.

In the document, the bishops maintain that social issues cannot be left only to the government to solve, but are rather the responsibility of each person.

A just society can be built, they contend, since a desire for love and truth is innate to human nature.

The document promotes virtue as fundamental to social behavior.

«The virtues form us as moral agents, so that we do what is right and honorable for no other reason than that it is right and honorable, irrespective of reward and regardless of what we are legally obliged to do,» the prelates explain. «Virtuous action springs from a sense of one’s dignity and that of others, and from self-respect as a citizen. It is doing good even when no-one is looking.»


«Choosing the Common Good» takes up the themes of life itself; poverty and inequality; care of the elderly, community relations and migration; the global community and ecology, marriage and family life and the role of faith communities.

«We encourage everyone to read this document and participate in the wide-ranging and necessary debate about the values and vision by which we seek to construct a just and civil society,» Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster, president of the bishops’ conference, said. «Ultimately ‘Choosing the Common Good’ is about human flourishing. It does not offer a direction on how to vote, but forms a back-cloth to the more particular issues which may well dominate the election itself and offers an invitation to the political parties on how best to respond in all of our joint efforts to build a better society.»

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