The Bishop of Shrewsbury, Mark Davies, has condemned the abortion manifesto pledges from Labour and the Liberal Democrats.
The Labour party has vowed to decriminalise abortion while the Liberal Democrat party would decriminalise abortion within the 24-week period. Bishop Davies said these proposed loosenings of abortion law represent “a radical assault upon the sanctity of human life.”
He circulated the message to parishes in the Diocese of Shrewsbury on December 5.
Bishop Davies said: “I cannot fail to draw your attention to this further radical assault upon the sanctity of human life, presented as a programme for government and the danger of discarding the rights of individual conscience in determining the right to life of the unborn child.”
Bishop Davies urged Catholics to pray for guidance and to think carefully about their vote.
He said: “As Christians, we must express the gravest concern that a number of political parties have dispensed with consideration of individual conscience, making unequivocal manifesto commitments to deny the unborn child the right to life.
“Individual candidates may dissent from their party platforms. However, we could never give support to any policy which denies the most fundamental right to life itself- without which all other rights are without foundation.”
Churches generally avoid party politics but pro-abortion policies have drawn criticism from both Catholic and Anglican leaders. The pre-election statement issued on November 29 by the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales placed right to life at the top of issues it wants voters to raise with prospective parliamentary candidates. The bishops of Scotland made abortion one of their priorities in a letter to Catholic voters.
Senior Anglican bishops have also said any proposals to extend abortion provision would be opposed by the Church of England. Bishops Christine Hardman of Newcastle and James Newcombe of Carlisle, the lead bishop on health and social care, sent an open letter to the Times on the subject of abortion. They said: “We can provide assurance that we will also vigorously challenge any attempt to extend abortion provision beyond the current 24-week limit.”
Earlier this week, Bishop Davies issued an appeal for a “silent Advent”.