Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
On 5 May 2016 the people of Wales will vote to elect a new National Assembly for Wales. Bearing in mind the words of Pope Francis that “… all Christians … are called to show concern for the building of a better world”, we write to you in light of the forthcoming elections.
During these elections, each voter is asked to consider what kind of society we wish for in Wales. This letter is intended to help you address this question. Your choice of representative is, of course, a matter for you alone. Nonetheless, we highlight some important issues for your reflection as you make your decision.
Where do the candidates stand on life issues?
Every human being is created in the image and likeness of God. Each person matters. This is the foundation of Catholic teaching on respect for human life and it embraces life from the moment of conception to the moment of death.
As a result, we support policies which protect the fundamental right to human life. Abortion, assisted suicide and euthanasia are contradictions to this right and duty. The Church upholds everything that leads to human flourishing: provision of good health, housing, and education; help for the disabled; as well as the elimination of all forms of poverty.
Education for the good of all
How do the candidates evaluate Catholic Schools?
As Catholics, we seek the provision of good education for all as a basic human right. This includes the provision of Catholic schools for those who wish their children to be educated in the knowledge and practice of the Catholic Faith. This is an essential dimension of life according to the example of Jesus Christ. Catholic schools serve 29,000 children in Wales. They are generally more ethnically diverse than other schools. They make a positive contribution to society in helping pupils become good citizens with clear moral principles. In doing so, they provide guidance for young lives and thereby help to build up a network of healthy relationships within society. Future Welsh Government policy should ensure that the poorest children have access to high quality education. Catholic parents have the right and privilege of sending their children to Catholic schools.
Do your candidates support a living wage and a commitment to the dignity of human work?
Some communities in Wales face an uncertain future owing to the threat of job losses and unemployment. The Catholic Church stands in solidarity with those affected. The market should exist not merely to generate economic activity but also to serve humanity. It should not be used to undermine the weakest members of society. Human labour is always to be respected. As Pope Francis said: “Where there is no work, there is no dignity”.
How will your candidates promote the dignity and protection of the well-being of refugees and migrants?
We face the greatest refugee crisis in Europe since the end of the Second World War. The National Assembly for Wales has responsibility for co-ordinating the Welsh response to this crisis. We commit ourselves to facilitating and co-operating with any initiatives the government deems suitable to alleviate this challenge.
Politicians have a vital and necessary vocation. They carry important responsibilities on our behalf, not merely for making policy decisions but also for shaping the hopes and aspirations of our people. We encourage and commit our Catholic people to work for the Common Good. Each of us has a responsibility to be involved in the democratic process and become active citizens. Hence the importance of our votes. Voting is a duty and privilege which springs from our membership of a democratic society.
Before voting, ask yourself the following question:
How, in the light of the Gospel, can my vote best serve the Common Good?
As you vote, you may wish to use this prayer:
“Lord, grant us wisdom that we may walk with integrity, guarding the path of justice, and knowing the protection of your loving care for all”.
With every blessing,
Archbishop of Cardiff
Bishop of Menevia
Bishop of Wrexham