16 June 2015, The Tablet

Politics needs richness of Catholic Social Teaching, says Egan

The Bishop of Portsmouth has warned of an emerging chasm between contemporary culture and the ideals of Catholic Social Teaching. 

Bishop Philip Egan told Catholics in his pastoral letter on Sunday that the only way to bridge this chasm was to participate “vociferously” in the democratic process.

Otherwise he warned that there was a real danger that Britain would slide towards “ever great state control” – a phenomenon he blamed on advances in technology and the eclipsing of traditional Christian values.

“This is why as Catholics we have a critical duty to participate vociferously in the democratic process, contributing our distinctive, saving message,” he said.

Part of this message was enshrined in Catholic Social Teaching, which he said was linked to solidarity and the common good. He also encouraged people in his diocese to consider ways to live more simply, so that they were free to serve the poor.

For Catholics, politics was about “more than economics and statistics”, and was about building a society founded on the values of Catholic Social Teaching, he went on.

“Sometimes people envisage British values as ‘decency’, the NHS, red pillar-boxes or warm beer. No! What makes Britain great is fidelity to our Christian patrimony, a concern for justice, freedom and the rule of law, values derived from love of God and neighbour, fused with our native genius,” he explained.

He also revealed that after May’s General Election the diocese had written to all of its MPs – of whom 30 out of 31 were Conservative – to assure them the prayers of the Catholic community.

Bishop Egan has previously called for politicians who voted in favour of same-sex marriage to be barred from receiving communion.

In his letter at the weekend he also called for every parish in the Diocese of Portsmouth to establish a Justice, Peace and Social Responsibility team and to study Pope Benedict XVI’s 2009 encyclical Caritas in Veritate alongside Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment, which is due to be released on Thursday.

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