The England and Wales bishops’ conference spokesman on European affairs has called on Catholics to vote in this month’s European elections, while counselling caution over the policies of the United Kingdom Independence Party (Ukip).
Bishop William Kenney, who represents the English and Welsh hierarchy at the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community (Comece), said: “I am not at all convinced that the policies that Ukip are proposing are the best things for the poor and underprivileged.”
Bishop Kenney added that he did not support Ukip’s policy of Britain withdrawing from the European Union.
“One of the things the EU has always stood for from its very founding is that all its members should have a standard of living which is in conformity with human dignity,” he told [ITAL]The Tablet[UNITAL]. “I honestly believe we should be members of the EU. I just don’t see what the alternative is for a country like the UK.
“My big reason is the maintenance of peace. What has happened in the Ukraine should be convincing people that peace is not a given, you have to work for it. And you can only work for peace with other people, you can’t become a little of island of peace on your own.”
Bishop Kenney urged Catholics to vote on 22 May, particularly in view of the turnout in Britain at the last European elections in 2009 was just 34 per cent.
The Bishop of Portsmouth, Philip Egan, also urged Catholics to vote and not to “yield to cynicism” about the elections. In a message to his diocese, the bishop said people should research candidates carefully.
Bishop Egan said that it was important to ascertain whether any “views, values and policies … impugn the transcendent dignity and value of human life from conception to natural death (for instance on abortion, euthanasia and assisted suicide) or threaten to undermine the holy institution of matrimony and the well-being of family life”. He added that Catholics should not simply fall back on to “customary party affiliations”.
In this week's Tablet Fr Patrick Daly assesses whether the EU is as bad as the rhetoric that surrounds it.