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Moral revival needed to repair broken trust in society, British bishops say

March 05, 2010

In a lengthy statement released in anticipation of the coming national elections, the Catholic bishops of England and Wales have decried a breakdown of trust in public institutions and called for efforts to rebuild the moral fabric of society.

"Few need reminding of how major institutions have failed to live up to their calling," the bishops concede in their statement, entitled Choosing the Common Good. "Our society will rediscover its capacity to trust by the recovery of the practice of virtue, and through an ethically founded reform of many of our social and economic institutions."

The breakdown in trust, the bishops argue, has been caused by a failure to act on the basis of clear moral principles. "In place of virtue we have seen an expansion of regulation. A society that is held together just by compliance with rules is inherently fragile, open to further abuses which will be met by a further expansion of regulation."

The bishops say that most people would prefer to conduct public and private business on a moral basis. The people, the document says, "are are alienated by a selfish society. At a profound level they care more for social capital as we have defined it than for financial capital, for quality of life than for the value of property."

The bishops' statement denounces abortion and euthanasia, and calls for acceptance of immigrants-- scolding politicians who "whip up fears, prejudices, and anxieties" about immigration. Choosing the Common Good calls for action to protect the environment, and a clear appreciation of the dangers to religious freedom.

But the strongest language of the bishops' statement is reserved for a discussion of marriage. The bishops note the "tragic personal, social and economic costs" of broken families, and say that all politicians should "recognize and support marriage." They conclude: "Society has a vested interest in supporting marriage as the surest basis for family life." The bishops' emphasis on that theme will undoubtedly prompt some complaints that the Catholic hierarchy is leaning toward support of the Conservative Party in the elections that are anticipated for May, especially in light of recent tensions between Church leaders and government officials over the acceptance of same-sex marriage. Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster, the president of the bishops' conference, said that Choosing the Common Good "does not offer a direction on how to vote, but forms a back-cloth to the more particular issues which may well dominate the election itself and offers an invitation to the political parties on how best to respond in all of our joint efforts to build a better society.”


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Show 2 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: Gil125 - Mar. 05, 2010 8:08 PM ET USA

    Apparently their Graces have not read Psalm 146 lately. It admonishes us not to put our trust in princes.

  • Posted by: Justin8110 - Mar. 05, 2010 8:00 PM ET USA

    Hopefully what they mean is a return to Christian values and a return to the one true faith and not a lowest common denominator secular morality divorced from God and His Church. It's sad that we have fallen so far from grace to have to remind people to be moral and act with decency. England is in need of serious prayers and Divine Intervention to save it from the darkness of Islam and godless secularism.