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BISHOP ROBERT'S REFLECTION ON THE ARCHBISHOPS' ELECTION LETTER

Although the General Election campaign in Britain may not appear to be directly relevant to our continental based diocese, Bishop Robert has commended the joint letter from our Archbishops for prayer and reflection. The Bishop also offers his own thoughts on future European relationships:

‘The Archbishops of Canterbury and York have published the attached letter ahead of the UK general election next month. It rightly exhorts those who can to vote, and sets out the kinds of virtues that are desirable in national politics. This is good to see, whilst, of course, I am very aware of those British ex-pats in our diocese who no longer have the right to vote.

In our diocese, the big issue is Brexit. The letter refers indirectly to Brexit in highlighting ‘deep and profound questions of identity’.

The Archbishops highlight the sad divisions in British society and urge a cohesion which takes seriously the weak, the poor and the marginalised.

I exhort our diocese to pray for those in leadership in the UK, whether political or religious, at this very difficult time in its history.’

+Robert

In their letter the Archbishops say: “This election is being contested against the backdrop of deep and profound questions of identity. Opportunities to renew and reimagine our shared values as a country and a United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland only come around every few generations. We are in such a time.

“Our Christian heritage, our current choices and our obligations to future generations and to God’s world will all play a shaping role. If our shared British values are to carry the weight of where we now stand and the challenges ahead of us, they must have at their core, cohesion, courage and stability. Cohesion is what holds us together. The United Kingdom, when at its best, has been represented by a sense not only of living for ourselves, but by a deeper concern for the weak, poor and marginalised, and for the common good. At home that includes education for all, the need for urgent and serious solutions to our housing challenges, the importance of creating communities as well as buildings, and a confident and flourishing health service that gives support to all - especially the vulnerable - not least at the beginning and end of life.

“Abroad it is seen in many ways, including the 0.7% aid commitment, properly applied in imaginative ways, standing up for those suffering persecution on grounds of faith, and our current leading on campaigns against slavery, trafficking, and sexual violence in conflicts. Courage, which includes aspiration, competition and ambition, should guide us into trading agreements that, if they are effective and just, will also reduce the drivers for mass movements of peoples. We must affirm our capacity to be an outward looking and generous country, with distinctive contributions to peacebuilding, development, the environment and welcoming the stranger in need. Our economic and financial systems at home and abroad should aim to be engines of innovation, not simply traders for their own account. The need for a just economy is clear, but there is also the relatively new and influential area of ‘just finance’, and there are dangers of an economy over-reliant on debt, which risks crushing those who take on too much.

“Courage also demands a radical approach to education, so that the historic failures of technical training and the over-emphasis on purely academic subjects are rebalanced, growing productivity and tackling with vigour the exclusion of the poorest groups from future economic life. Stability, an ancient and Benedictine virtue, is about living well with change. Stable communities will be skilled in reconciliation, resilient in setbacks and diligent in sustainability, particularly in relation to the environment. They will be ones in which we can be collectively a nation of ‘glad and generous hearts’. To our concern for housing, health and education as foundations for a good society, we add marriage, the family and the household as foundational communities, which should be nurtured and supported as such, not just for the benefit of their members, but as a blessing for the whole of society.”

You can read and/or download the letter in full HERE