A let­ter from the bish­ops of Scot­land ahead of the gen­eral elec­tion


THIS gen­eral elec­tion presents us with an op­por­tu­nity to re­flect on Catholic so­cial teach­ing.

As Chris­tians, we have a civic and moral duty to en­gage with our democ­racy.

As Catholics, we be­lieve that the pri­mary goal of so­ci­ety should be the com­mon good; that is the good of all peo­ple and of the whole per­son. In­deed, the com­mon good is the very rea­son po­lit­i­cal au­thor­ity ex­ists.

This elec­tion pro­vides an op­por­tu­nity to re­flect on the beauty and good­ness of church teach­ing and to keep that teach­ing at the fore­front of our minds as we en­gage with can­di­dates across all par­ties.

Dur­ing elec­tions, a range of is­sues com­pete for your at­ten­tion; we high­light some of them here in the hope that you will re­flect on them and raise them with your can­di­dates.


Too many peo­ple still strug­gle to make ends meet.

This sad re­al­ity can­not and should not en­dure in our coun­try in the 21st cen­tury. Our con­cerns should also ex­tend to pro­vid­ing in­ter­na­tional as­sis­tance, while en­sur­ing that aid is not used to sup­port im­moral prac­tices such as those which com­pro­mise the ba­sic right to life.

Refugees, asy­lum seek­ers and im­mi­gra­tion

The United King­dom should be a place where the most vul­ner­a­ble are wel­comed and given the re­sources nec­es­sary to re­build their lives. At the same time, we should pro­vide for those peo­ple liv­ing in and around con­flict zones, and com­mit to work­ing to­wards the peace­ful res­o­lu­tion.

Liv­ing in Europe

There are mil­lions of EU cit­i­zens liv­ing in the UK and mil­lions of UK cit­i­zens liv­ing across the EU. Mind­ful of the un­cer­tainty af­fect­ing them, can­di­dates should com­mit to work­ing to­wards de­liv­er­ing sta­bil­ity and se­cu­rity for them in fu­ture. Our politi­cians should forge and re­new in­ter­na­tional part­ner­ships and es­tab­lish rights for those who wish to work in the UK, in a spirit of co­op­er­a­tion and friend­ship.

Free­dom of re­li­gion and con­science

Mil­lions of peo­ple world­wide are per­se­cuted for their be­liefs. Peo­ple of faith, in­clud­ing Chris­tians, should be able to freely prac­tise their faith and bear wit­ness to it in their lives, with­out fear of prej­u­dice, in­tol­er­ance, abuse or vi­o­lence. Can­di­dates should be com­mit­ted to the right of peo­ple not to be forced to act against their con­science.

Nu­clear weapons and the arms trade

The use of any weapon that causes more than in­di­vid­ual and pro­por­tion­ate harm to civil­ians is im­moral and, thus, re­jected by the church.

As we cast our votes this elec­tion, let us bear in mind the words of Pope Francis when he said: ‘The great­ness of any na­tion is re­vealed in its ef­fec­tive care of so­ci­ety’s most vul­ner­a­ble mem­bers.’

Our na­tion, our par­lia­ment and our gov­ern­ment will be judged on how it treats its poor­est and most vul­ner­a­ble cit­i­zens. Devot­edly in Christ, Philip Tartaglia, Pres­i­dent, Arch­bishop of Glas­gow; Leo Cush­ley, Arch­bishop of St. An­drews and Ed­in­burgh; Joseph Toal, Vice-Pres­i­dent, Bishop of Mother­well;

Hugh Gil­bert, Epis­co­pal Sec­re­tary, Bishop of Aberdeen; Stephen Rob­son, Bishop of Dunkeld; John Keenan, Bishop of Pais­ley;

Wil­liam Nolan, Bishop of Gal­loway; Brian McGee, Bishop of Argyll and the Isles.

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