Rt Rev Brian McGee, Bishop of Ar­gyll and the Isles

REF­ER­EN­DUM SPE­CIAL: Begin­ning to­day, The Oban Times brings views from community lead­ers

The Oban Times - - News -

REFLECTING on the forth­com­ing vote, we should recog­nise the his­toric na­ture of this ref­er­en­dum and its im­pli­ca­tions for fu­ture gen­er­a­tions. The out­come will have con­se­quences for the fu­ture of our coun­try, Europe and for the world.

I be­lieve three things are es­sen­tial as we pre­pare to make this his­toric de­ci­sion:

1. that we pray for the guid­ance of the Holy Spirit;

2. that we all in­form our­selves of the ar­gu­ments on both sides of the de­bate;

3. that we each ex­er­cise our vote with a view to the com­mon good of all.

Our fo­cus needs to be, above all, on the hu­man per­son. We need to build a Europe “which re­volves not around the econ­omy but around the sa­cred­ness of the hu­man per­son, around in­alien­able val­ues”, in the Pope’s words. We all have a re­spon­si­bil­ity to keep the dig­nity of the hu­man per­son at the fore­front of the de­bate.

We must ask our­selves, in the face of ev­ery is­sue, what will best serve the dig­nity of all peo­ple both within Europe and be­yond.

This ref­er­en­dum, there­fore, is about much more than eco­nom­ics and per­son­al­i­ties. We should never for­get the pro­foundly re­li­gious roots of Euro­pean na­tions; that Europe has a 2000-year- old Chris­tian cul­ture that has shaped the con­ti­nent and is a dy­namic spir­i­tual, moral and in­tel­lec­tual re­source as we ad­dress the fu­ture.

As Pope Fran­cis re­minds us, we need con­tin­u­ally to ask our­selves: who is my neigh­bour? In re­sponse to grave chal­lenges, we are called to be gen­er­ous and wel­com­ing to all oth­ers, es­pe­cially the most vul­ner­a­ble.

Each per­son will have their own views about the best po­lit­i­cal frame­work in which to re­alise these ideals. There is no de­fin­i­tive frame­work which is more Catholic or Chris­tian than any other.

This ref­er­en­dum is an op­por­tu­nity to re­flect on those val­ues we cher­ish as a na­tion. High among these val­ues are mu­tual re­spect and ci­vil­ity, vi­tal in this na­tional con­ver­sa­tion about the very fu­ture of our na­tion within the world.

Be­fore vot­ing, we might ask our­selves the fol­low­ing ques­tion: How, in the light of the Gospel, can my vote best serve the com­mon good?

As you pre­pare to vote, you may wish to of­fer this prayer: “Lord, grant us wis­dom that we may walk with in­tegrity, guard­ing the path of jus­tice, and know­ing the pro­tec­tion of your lov­ing care for all.”

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