Comments: House of Bishops' Pastoral Letter on the 2015 General Election

The guide to the letter is in the wretched docx format which many cannot read.

Posted by John Roch at Tuesday, 17 February 2015 at 1:48pm GMT

What is an otherwise thoughtful and wide-ranging document simply reduced me to hysterics when I read it in the wider context of the Green Report, the shenanigans of the CNC and a lurch towards more authoritarian models of episcopacy. "One important principle here is the idea of subsidiarity – the principle that decisions should be devolved to the lowest level consistent
with effectiveness. Subsidiarity derives from Catholic social teaching,and it is a good principle for challenging the accumulation of power in fewer and fewer hands." Yes, your graces. Also "Inequality... can develop quickly but take a long time to overcome." They're not kidding, are they? Best of all "The purpose of education is not simply to prepare people to be economic units but to nurture their ability to
flourish as themselves and to seek the flourishing of others." That didn't come from the Green Report, did it?

Posted by James A at Tuesday, 17 February 2015 at 2:00pm GMT

Very commendable. But the main point is that a significant number of the population do not trust any politician and are unwilling to change attitude. We should not be blamed for reacting in this way.

We all share the blame but I have to say the church has been particularly short on leadership and demonstrative example. By and large we are are very strong in personal faith but for many that faith does not fit well alongside the CofE hence the fall off in support. This too needs changing and the current leadership which I see as being remote needs to aspire to the challenge of connecting with individuals. This can be done - Pope Francis is an example. I may say that within individual parishes are some brilliant priests who in my view aspire to the qualities which Jesus displayed. These are the people who shine out and inspire hope in individuals everywhere but sadly they appear held back and frustrated by the current administration. Until this is rectified, there will be little light of inspiration. It is down to the Bishops not just to prognosticate but to talk with the masses and make radical change within.

Posted by Peter Griffiths at Tuesday, 17 February 2015 at 2:06pm GMT

The document - at 56 pages I'd hardly call it a letter - reduced James A to hysterics. It reduced me to tears. "Motes and beams" came oft to mind as did "Physician, heal thyself."

Jesus mercy, Mary pray.

Posted by RPNewark at Tuesday, 17 February 2015 at 4:36pm GMT

James A hits the mark well.

It seems to me that the whole fiasco surrounding Lord Green and his report are a prime example of the sort of leadership and direction that Christians should not espouse. I suspect the whole thing might sink without trace because of the dubiety that surrounds it.

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Tuesday, 17 February 2015 at 5:18pm GMT

Well done Bishops on this one. Prophetic, pastoral and political.

Posted by Andrew Lightbown at Tuesday, 17 February 2015 at 5:44pm GMT

I actually want to tell the Bishops to get stuffed.I am not a Roman Catholic and I do not want Bishops to tell me how to use my democratic rights. We have an excellent constituency MP who is helping us locally in a tough battle with a marketing giant. He also spoke and voted in favour of local mitochondrial research. I trust him much more than the Bishops.

Posted by Jean Mayland (Revd) at Tuesday, 17 February 2015 at 8:04pm GMT

I've converted the guide (and the statements by the two bishops) from docx to pdf and uploaded copies. I've added links to these to the end of my article.

Posted by Peter Owen at Tuesday, 17 February 2015 at 8:54pm GMT

I do not agree with (Revd) Jean. 'The Bishops' - whatever that phrase means, are not telling us how to use our democratic rights, but they are perhaps pointing to the messages of the Gospel in providing (at the very least,) a guide to the questions we should ask of those who want our vote.

As to the value of local MPs some will be good others self serving nonentities.

Unlike James I think the value of the letter/statement is not devalued by arguments over the Green report

Posted by confused sussex at Wednesday, 18 February 2015 at 6:29am GMT

An excellent letter....and which party does not want disaffected people to vote? The conservative party of course. If there was compulsory voting in the UK the latter would be out of power forever.

Posted by robert ian williams at Wednesday, 18 February 2015 at 7:34am GMT

Well done, Bishops.

Some of you want the CofE to be disestablished? Well this 'Letter' brings that day a lot closer.

Where to start? With the factual errors on unemployment and in-work poverty? With the wilful misdescription of much of the debate about immigration when so many have been so anxious NOT to cause offence?

It makes no attempt to even acknowledge the very real problem of welfare dependency, never mind how to counteract it.

It makes me ashamed to be a member of the Church of England.

Posted by J Gibbs at Wednesday, 18 February 2015 at 10:19am GMT

To cut through all the 'fog' of information re.Church and politics, I would suggest that any thinking Human reads 'Brussels laid bare' by Marta Andreasen.This shows what a Tyrannical monster the EU is. We need to distance the UK from it immediately! W.May.

Posted by William May at Wednesday, 18 February 2015 at 10:33am GMT

Not left-leaning? Then why do so many left-leaning types regard the 'letter' as endorsing their politics and as one in the eye for the Conservatives?

Posted by Jill Armstead at Wednesday, 18 February 2015 at 2:17pm GMT

In response to J Gibbs, could it possibly be that the so-called "left-leaning" policies are more in consonance with the Sermon on the Mount? The Church has declared a bias to the poor.

Posted by gerry reilly at Wednesday, 18 February 2015 at 3:26pm GMT

A practical matter - is this going to be made available as a printed booklet? I would like people to read it, but I don't particularly fancy running this off on my desktop printer for every member of the congregation.

Posted by Matthew Duckett at Wednesday, 18 February 2015 at 5:43pm GMT

It has been a while for me to summon up the courage to read this document - a commentary on how far the Church of England has dropped in the esteem of the Nation that some of its own members can barely bring themselves to listen to their message.

Anyway, the document is occasionally a bit glib, simplistic and contains the required quota of common place truisms (it could have stood some editing on this point). Nevertheless as I came to the end of it I thought it was, overall, a very thoughtful piece of writing and, unusually for the CofE in recent years, a genuinely useful contribution to our current political situation.

Of course it's a little 'blue Labour' in political orientation and owes much to Burke (but no worse for it on both counts in my view, though some references to thinkers who clearly have influenced the document would also have helped).

I would have valued a section on human rights, seeing there have been Lambeth Conference resolutions in support of human rights (a serious omission bearing in mind the withdrawal from the ECHR might well be in the Conservative manifesto); I thought the pot shots at Health and safety 'gone mad' were a bit cheap when one considers people are still being injured and losing their life at work. But overall well worth reading.

Posted by Craig Nelson at Wednesday, 18 February 2015 at 9:32pm GMT

Seems to me a well balanced document but one which clearly shews that the Church of England is no longer the Tory Party at Prayer. Following the May General Election it looks quite likely that we are in for yet another Coalition Government, quite possibly between Labour and the SNP. I well remember the good old days of the Left/Right divide when there was a clear difference between the two main parties and they could be distinguished by more than the colour of the ties (red and blue) that they wore.

Posted by Father David at Friday, 20 February 2015 at 8:44am GMT

Just a few comments from all of this:

Document seems very contradictory. On the one hand they say that none of the parties seem to give a moral vision but yet they are saying that people should vote. For what? if none of them provide a moral vision for what the Church expects then why.

The Document says that you shouldn't vote for self interest. Well that kind of defeats the reason of one person one vote? Of course I am more inclined to vote for what is best for me and my family. I am not voting for Mrs Miggins up the road as they have a vote too.

It is rather a left leaning document as one would expect but I would err on the side of Caution since if peoples voting intention was purely based on this document then Ed Milliband would win by a landslide. The problem is people have very short memories regarding the Labour Government in power for 10 years. Did they do much to change the moral compass and why would it be the same this time around given that it is the middle classes (not the so called poor or rich) that keep them in power.

Posted by Mark Rose at Tuesday, 24 February 2015 at 9:58am GMT

The Anglican Bishops' Vote Labour document is far more substantial and meaty that the recently released Letter from the Roman Catholic Bishops of England and Wales which says the same thing in far fewer words.

Posted by Father David at Wednesday, 25 February 2015 at 7:17am GMT
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