English bishops issue guidance to voters ahead of UK General Election

A General Election is due to take place in the UK on July 4. The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales (CBCEW) have issued comprehensive guidance for voters ahead of the election. It applies Catholic social teachings to the issues of the day. The guidance emphasises the need to prioritise gospel values and the common good in political decision-making.

Below is an overview of the key topics highlighted by the bishops:

Domestic Poverty and Family Life and Taxation

The hierarchy urge voters to consider policies that support families, especially those struggling with poverty. This includes advocating for fair tax policies that do not disproportionately burden low-income families, ensuring access to affordable housing, and providing adequate social security benefits. The bishops stress the importance of safeguarding family life and creating an environment where children can thrive, which includes support for child-rearing parents and those with other caring responsibilities.

Faith schools and education

The bishops ask the the Government to recognise that “parents are the first and primary educators of their children and ensure that this right permeates through all education policy.” The bishops warn of campaigns to get rid of schools with a religious character, and to change the curriculum so that schools would no longer be able to keep their Catholic ethos. They ask the Government to support Catholic schools through policy and legislation which protects the legal foundations of well-established Catholic education.

Right to life

The bishops urge voters to consider policies that protect life from conception to natural death. This includes opposing abortion and euthanasia, and supporting measures that provide care and support for the vulnerable, including the elderly, the disabled, and the terminally ill. The CBCEW advocate for a society that values all human life and provides the necessary support systems to uphold this value. They ask the Government to end the practice of medically unsupervised abortions in the home, through pills. They also oppose the attempts to extend abortion limits further.


Reflecting the teachings of Pope Francis in his encyclical “Laudato Si'”, the bishops call for policies that reduce carbon emissions, promote renewable energy, and encourage sustainable living practices. Additionally, they asked the Government to assist poorer countries to meet their targets and obligations regarding the environment.

International Relations

Here the bishops call on the Government to work internationally to promote genuine human rights that respect the dignity of all people, and to partner with faith communities in helping deliver aid to the world’s poorest people. The bishops believe that “the Government should welcome refugees and asylum seekers with compassion, and ensure that the UK has both a fairer system of immigration and asylum and a secure border.”


The bishops call for a “compassionate and just approach” to immigration and asylum policies. They advocate for the protection of the rights and dignity of migrants and refugees, ensuring that they are treated with respect and provided with opportunities to work as soon as is practical. They should not be detained for substantial periods, the bishops say.

Criminal Justice

The bishops stress the importance of a criminal justice system that upholds the dignity of all individuals, including both victims and offenders. They advocate for a system that balances rehabilitation and punishment, supports restorative justice practices, and addresses the underlying social issues that contribute to criminal behavior.

In a video appeal, the president of the CBCEW, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, stresses the importance of active political engagement for all citizens, particularly Christians who are called to bring gospel values into the public sphere. He encouraged voters to question political candidates on the key issues the bishops highlighted and to make informed decisions that promote the common good.