LEEDS, England — The Catholic Bishops of England and Wales are urging voters to consider issues of human rights and the dignity of human life as the country’s general election approaches, with Britain’s exit from the European Union a central issue.
“The question of the United Kingdom’s place in Europe continues to dominate political discourse,” the bishops wrote Nov. 29 following their plenary meeting in Leeds.
“In whatever way our future relationship with our closest neighbours develops, Britain must be committed to a positive engagement as a key international partner in promoting peace, security and responsible stewardship of the planet...The test of any policy should be its impact upon human dignity, particularly for the most disadvantaged in our society.”
The general election, slated to take place Dec. 12, will be the country’s third since 2015, though normally they would be held every five years, the BBC reports.
The election will determine who will fill a total of 650 parliamentary seats in the House of Commons.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson hopes the early election will increase the number of Members of Parliament for his Conservative Party, making his plans for Brexit easier to achieve.
The bishops laid out several criteria for voters to consider when choosing their new MPs, foremost of which is respect for human life, including in the womb, and including care for those who are terminally ill and dying “while resisting the false compassion of assisted suicide or euthanasia.”
The Conservative Party currently holds a majority of the seats in Parliament and has not mentioned abortion in its most recent party platform.
Two opposition parties, Labour and the Liberal Democrats, have made the decriminalisation of abortion part of their party platforms. Recently, the Liberal Democrats deselected a former MP as a candidate because of his Catholic faith and views on same-sex marriage and abortion.
The bishops also urged voters to remember the marginalized in society, including the homeless, migrants, and refugees, those in extreme poverty, and those threatened by a changing climate.
They encouraged voters to consider whether the officials they are electing are upholding the dignity of marriage, the rights of parents to educate their children, and the right of freedom of religion and conscience.
“We should all approach this election as an opportunity to promote life, dignity and human flourishing for all,” the bishops concluded, urging all Catholics to pray for the wellbeing of British society.