EU bishops call for voters to engage

COMECE issues statement ahead of EU elections

The Catholic bishops of Europe have issued a joint call for voters to fully engage with the upcoming European elections towards a strengthened European project.

The Commission of the European Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community (COMECE) released a statement on March 20 in which they address both voters and legislators on imperatives for the continent as it recovers from the 2008 financial crash.

“The outcome will shape the legislature of the EU for the next half-decade and will have major implications for those who lead the Union over the coming years,” the bishops insist of the May 22 and 25 elections.

Insisting on the “right and duty” of all EU citizens to vote, the bishops appeal specifically to young voters, many casting a ballot for the first time. “We urge our young people to make their voices heard by engaging in the political debate and, above all, by voting,” the bishops state, recognising that many in the younger category have been left deeply affected by unemployment as a result of events in 2008.

To legislators and prospective Members of the European Parliament, the bishops urge them both to prioritise the ongoing financial crisis and a number of issues of import to the founding principles of the European project.

“It is essential to recall that underpinning all areas of socio-economic policy is a vision of man rooted in profound respect for human dignity,” the joint statement asserts, calling for the protection of life from conception to death and pointing to the family as “the basic building-block of society” deserving of protection” being equally worthy of protection.

The prelates also call for efforts to protect religious freedom to be “intensified”.

“We welcome the EU guidelines on the promotion and protection of freedom of religion and belief, and we hope that the new European Parliament will intensify its work on this important matter,” they state.

The COMECE statement ends with a reemphasis on voter participation this May as “essential”.