The Bishop of Shrewsbury has warned the Catholics of his diocese about unprecedented General Election pledges which he says will represent a “radical assault upon the sanctity of human life”.
In a message circulated to the parishes of the Diocese of Shrewsbury ahead of the 12th December election, Bishop Mark Davies denounced manifesto proposals from political parties to decriminalise abortion.
He said that such policies, “presented as a programme for government”, marked radical departures from the treatment of abortion by political parties traditionally as a matter of conscience for individual MPs.
Bishop Davies urged Catholic to pray for guidance and to think carefully about how to vote in the light of such policy proposals.
“I commend the General Election Statement of the English and Welsh Bishop’s to be considered before the choice the nation makes on Thursday,” he said.
“As Christians, we must express the gravest concern that a number of political parties have dispensed with considerations of individual conscience making unequivocal manifesto commitments to deny the unborn child the right to life.
“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.
“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.
“Let us pray for all who seek a mandate from us on Thursday and for light in making the difficult choices which an election involves.”
The churches avoid party politics but the pro-abortion policies have drawn criticism from both Catholic and Anglican leaders.
A pre-election statement issued by the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales placed the right to life at the top of a list of issues it wants voters to raise with prospective parliamentary candidates.
Similarly, the bishops of Scotland also made abortion and euthanasia their priorities in a letter issued to Catholic voters.
Senior Anglican bishops have said that any proposals to extend abortion provision would be opposed by the Church of England.
“The issue has in the past been a matter of individual conscience for MPs and Peers where the party whip is not usually applied, and we believe firmly that it should remain so,” said Bishops Christine Hardman of Newcastle and James Newcombe of Carlisle, the lead bishop on health and social care, in an open letter on abortion on behalf of the House of Bishops.
“We can provide assurance that we will also vigorously challenge any attempt to extend abortion provision beyond the current 24 week limit,” they said in their response to a letter to The Times newspaper from 383 clergy and laity who objected to the manifesto promises for the decriminalisation of abortion.
Picture: Bishop Mark Davies.