Churches set out people oriented concerns for Euro elections

By staff writers
May 15, 2009

In the run-up to the European elections in June 2009, the Jesuit European Office in Brussels (OCIPE) has issued an Election Memorandum examining the kind of choices currently facing the European Union in its internal life and in its relationship with the wider world.

“It is important to vote and to consider our vote carefully“, says the British Director of OCIPE, Fr Frank Turner, who adds his voice to a range of other European church agencies

Church and faith groups are mobilising around a range of issues related to the Euro-elections, not least the rise and threat of racist and far right parties, including the British National Party in the UK.

The issues the churches are tackling revolve around people and community, nationally and internationally.

"The European Union seems to many a bureaucratic entity far removed from Europe's citizens. But a careful vote in the elections is one way of strengthening the democratic accountability of the EU," says a memorandum from OCIPE.

Its particular concerns are European solidarity, migration and Europe, energy in Europe and EU politics and development.

As the British Director of OCIPE, Frank Turner says the elections of June 4 provide a challenge for voters. 'It is important to vote and to consider our vote carefully', he says. 'Yet elections take place only occasionally and are not, of themselves, the full expression of democracy."

He continues: "We are also well aware that certain proposals we make in this memorandum may not command general public assent or be immediately achievable: we propose directions, not instant remedies. From this perspective, we add to our four policy commentaries a reflection about the nature of democracy itself as an expression of human dignity and human community."

He adds: " We can be selective since we also point our readers to three other election statements [from the churches], which we willingly commend."

Those dcouments have been issued by the ecumenical Conference of European Churches, based in Brussels, the network of Europe-based Catholic religious orders working in Africa, the Africa-Europe Faith and Justice Network (AEFJN), and the international Catholic lay movement, Christian Initiative for Europe (IXE).

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