Election, the voice of Anglicans

The Church of England: a letter for May 7 election. Severe criticism of politics marked by the lack of ethical benchmarks. The duty to vote

It’s a long, articulated document, that gauges every word. Fifty-six pages to invite the faithful of the Anglican Church, parish communities, as well as every British citizen, to fulfil their duty ahead of the general election of May 7. The initiative of the Church of England, namely the largest religious confession in the U.K, immediately sparked off a debate hit the news. Biblical reference, severe judgement. The document released February 17 is titled "Who is my neighbour?". It draws inspiration from chapter 4 of the letter of St. Paul to the Letter of St. Paul to the Philippians: "Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things have honour, whatever things are upright, whatever things are holy, whatever things are beautiful, whatever things are of value, if there is any virtue and if there is any praise, give thought to these things." It is followed by a severe analysis of the reality of the Country, judgement of the political class, including an appeal to responsible vote that requires, for the bishops, reference to the values stemming from Christian faith when going to the polls. The Pastoral Letter criticizes politicians that show "cynicism, self-interest, loss of ethical benchmarks, distant from people’s problems, lacking an overarching vision. Political culture – reads the document – is "almost-moribund", and the same political class fails to meet the challenges of the present times. The bishops also encourages those in the Church to seek from political candidates a commitment to building a society based on the "common good" of all its members over party or individual interests. Obviously the bishops do not express political preferences. Rather, the Anglican Church, recalling its deep-rooted presence in the Country and actions of solidarity towards families and the poor – calls for a renewed and responsible commitment. Religion in the public arena. The Church of England in this case – and in contrast to its customary low-profile attitude in the public realm – aims to encourage the faithful and all citizens to do their part for the future of the nation, stressing in clear words a political class considered inadequate, oriented towards minor, if not counterproductive reforms. At the same time the Church of England expressed an encouragement to look ahead with confidence, choosing the path of dialogue and participatory democracy. There is a call to political parties to discern "a fresh moral vision of the kind of country we want to be." The "privileges of living in a democracy" mean that "we should use our votes" "with the good of others in mind, not just our own interests." The Letter thus highlights the right of the Church to enter the political arena, since "it is not possible to separate the way a person perceives his or her place in the created order from their beliefs, religious or otherwise", about how "the world’s affairs ought to be arranged." "The claim that religion and political life must be kept separate is, in any case, frequently disingenuous", often referred to by politicians when the Church disagrees with their political line. Reactions and perplexities. The ecclesial document equally encourages political parties across the spectrum to seek bold new visions of hope loaded with idealism. For the bishops Britain is in need of a stronger politics of community to boost solidarity between people and reverse "a drift" towards social isolation and egoism. Finally, the Letter contains a further invitation to exercise the democratic rights that our ancestors struggled for." "It is the duty of every Christian adult to vote", the bishops conclude. The Letter of the Church of England sparked off a set of reactions – in some cases marked by resentfulness. It appears that, according to British media, also at number 10, Downing Street, someone turned up his nose.

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