Monday, April 01, 2024

England’s ‘Christian inheritance’ at stake in UK General Election

Easter has arrived early in a year when a General Election is anticipated.

“To elect” means to choose. This Easter holiday celebrates the greatest and most enduring choice our country ever made, in embracing Christianity more than a millennium ago.

It was a choice made not merely by the leaders of society but personally – in Baptism one by one – across a century and more.

This conversion of England is the choice which has shaped our values and laws and even how we see ourselves.

The choice of every Baptism – to turn away from evil and put our faith in Christ – is dramatically renewed by entire congregations on Easter night and morning.

Whatever our relationship to the Church, these spiritual values are the shared inheritance that has shaped our life together.

Like the gold reportedly found in the Shropshire Hills, it is a gift embedded in the moral landscape of England and is to be found and discovered anew by every generation.

At the coming elections, Christians informed by their faith will freely take differing views on the political issues of our time. Yet, the Church provides the enduring witness to the bedrock of faith and values which help us in the great moral choices we face.

A new parliament will soon be asked to make one of those choices which impacts on the central foundations of this Christian inheritance: the sanctity of human life.

The proposal to legalise euthanasia is often called “assisted dying”, though it is certainly not assisting the sick or the dying in the way Christianity has long proposed.

For those we elect will be asked to decide whether to permit the medical killing of the sick and the dying the first time in our history.

Parliamentarians will be aware that to remove these legal protections will open the way to untold dangers for those who are most vulnerable.

In considering such a far-reaching change to our way of life, our elected representatives can depend on the secure foundations which have led us to hold human life sacred and which has long inspired our care for the sick and the dying.

Faced with the challenges of our time, the national celebration of Easter invites us to treasure our Christian inheritance and to make this our choice anew.

About the Shrewsbury Diocese

More than a 170,000 faithful, in a hundred communities of this diocese, set out to serve a still greater number across Cheshire, Shropshire and parts of Greater Manchester, Merseyside and Derbyshire, notes the Diocese of Shrewsbury website.

It explains that the diocese’s mission is “gathered around the Gospel and the Eucharist, in our striving for holiness; in passing on the gift of the faith in education and catechesis; in support of families, of youth and of the vocation of marriage; in developing the lay apostolate and in promoting new vocations to the priesthood and the consecrated life; in the service of those in greatest need; in caring for the created order and undertaking all within a culture which cherishes the gift of human life and safeguards the most vulnerable”.