This is very much a moral issue. Every person needs to feel that he or she is taking part in the work of the world. It is not just a matter of money. It is a question of human dignity. Continuing unemployment is demoralising.
The present concern arises from the assertion that this recession is different in kind from previous ones. Automation is putting people out of work and will do so more and more. There is a fear that this unemployment problem is to be permanent.
So Christians should look for guidance from our political leaders.
It seems a counsel of despair to say that with all thc modern technology available for the production of wealth all that can be offered is permanent unemployment with "redundancy" payments and National Assistance. The old incredible dilemma of poverty amidst plenty still faces us. We cannot believe that the sons of God can be permanently "redundant" in God's world.
We know unemployment cannot be cured simply by voting. But we rightly expect candidates to tell us what they foresee.
Is there to be a permanent high level of unemployment? If so what sort of future are politicians going to plan? Or is this a temporary recession? If that is what they think, on what grounds do they base their judgement?
That all citizens have equal rights in law is a principle that few would dispute. Those who preach a frankly racist doctrine are repudiated by the vast majority of our people. The voting figures show as much, even where such candidates may have increased their votes.
Our legislators must exercise vigilance against the unconsciously racist attitudes in so many people. These attitudes have the effect sometimes of preventing coloured people from achieving fair opportunities for advancement at work.
Again we should stand against legislation which would prevent families being reunited. Those who are citizens, whatever their colour, have a right to live and work together with their immediate families who are waiting to join them from overseas. This is a natural human right.
In any case those who are born here have the status of citizens. Just as there is no colour test and no race test in English Law, so there is no colour, or race test in the law of the gospel.
Christians, and indeed all men and women of goodwill, have a right to expect that candidates will not play the racialist card. The forebodings about our country being overrun by alien races have been shown to be highly exaggerated. To play on irrational fears and prejudices is a sign of dishonesty ...
Voters and ultimately Parliament must show vigilance against racist parties which appeal to prejudice and stir up violence by deliberately provocative demonstrations in sensitive areas.
Equal vigilance should be exercised against extremist bodies who use such occasions as an excuse for violent demonstrations and affrays ...
The fact is that the people of this country dislike and distrust extremist and extravagant behaviour. Their instinct is to ignore the parties which indulge in them. They have had enough of violent marching and countermarching. It is intolerable that the centre of a city should have to close down and board up its shops for half a day. Public authorities are unwilling to restrict freedom of speech and assembly.
Peaceful demonstrations and marches are part of the democratic process. But there are times when there would be widespread public support for a ban on that type of demonstration which experience shows leads to violence. The general public has a right to be able to go about its business and lawful occasions.
Everyone accepts that in our own country there should not be a chasm between rich and poor. Every member of the national community has a right to the basic necessities at least.
The same principle applies in the international community. Yet, there, the public conscience is not yet stirred as it should be.
It is too easy an escape to say that some Third World governments are not such as to inspire confidence. We are all human. Corruption, mismanagement, civil wars are not confined to the undeveloped countries. One must deal with
human nature as one finds it.
It still remains true that every man alive owes it in justice to his fellow men that they should have their fair share of the world's goods.
In 1971 the nations taking part in the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) agreed to make available to the poorer nations 0.7 per cent of the gross national product. That is less than a penny in the pound.
In general the wealthy countries have not yet honoured even this meagre commitment.
The problem is that in general, the resources of the poorer countries are in raw materials or primary products. By contrast, the wealthier nations' resources are industrial manufactured goods. The prices demanded for the latter continually outstrip the prices offered for the former.
Moreover, banking, marketing, insurance, investment, shipping, freight rates are all controlled by twenty per cent of the world's people.
The problem is well known. It is a product of history. It is not a plot.
Catholics should look to Parliament to give a lead in seeking an international agreement to restore the balance. Remedies have been proposed. What is needed is the will to apply them ...
Immediate subsidies or grants will always be needed for the starving or in disasters. Voluntary effort in many cases responds generously. But Christians should look to Parliament for something more.
International agreements are notoriously difficult to achieve. To produce a climate of opinion which ultimately will have its effect needs continued pressure, patient negotiation, conviction about the rightness of the aim. Voters can have great influence if they contribute to public opinion in favour of the Third World.
Here too every country has its part to play in forming international opinion. The Catholic bishops wrote only recently and at length on the topic of disarmament. The Pope also spoke frequently about it.
It is only right to acknowledge that our country's voice has been -heard in the UN Special Session and various initiatives have been taken by Great Britain.
As your bishops, we would mention only one point now. It is shameful to see undeveloped poor countries fighting civil wars or sometimes local wars with arms supplied at enormous expense to the poorer countries by wealthier nations.
The excuse is offered that only by using such markets can we have an efficient arms industry which we need for national defence. But this is to side-step proper responsibility. Christians should take the lead in scrutinising our scale of values more closely.
Arising from the abortion situation two questions are being asked: I. If human life is expendable in the womb, by the same principle may it not come to be considered expendable in old age?
2. What threat hangs over the aged in the near fUture when there are fewer and fewer in the young wealth producing population and more and more old? Nobody would he surprised to see legislation approved — not brutally frank legislation, but step by step.
We urge all to be on their guard and to resist from the outset any proposal to allow the direct and deliberate termination of life.
,Modern medical treatment can exclude all severe suffering or pain. Hostels and special care for the terminally ill are being widely provided. There is no excuse for legalising the direct termination of life.
This is not to say that drugs may not be used to relieve pain in terminal cases even if as a side effect it is foreseen that life may be shortened. This raises complex questions, as does the principle that one is not morally obliged to take extraordinary means to sustain life.
What is important is to hold on to the basic principle that direct and deliberate termination of life in such cases is wrong and would open the way to the slaying of the handicapped, the mentally defective and others, regarded as a burden on the community.
Legislation to permit direct euthanasia, so far from relieving suffering, would cause anxiety and fear among the aged taken in geriatric care. It would put pressure on people to ask themselves at some point in their lives 'Should I, for the sake of others, agree to the termination of my life now?'
It would be one more factor tending to atrophy the sense of compassion in our people, a hardening of sensibility with farreaching and terrifying consequences ...
Catholics in this country oppose the Abortion Act (1967) on principle and we urge that all MP's take a stand unconditionally in defence of the rights of the unborn child.
At the very least we urge MP's to support legislation to amend the Act so as to limit some of the damage it is causing and to press for parliamentary time to be allotted for debate ...
The following figure (from the Office of Population Censuses and Surveys: OPCS) show the seriousness of the consequences of the Act.
1977: Legal abortions in England and Wales 132,999. (Number of these carried out 'to save the mother's life' three).
1 9 6 8—to date: Legal abortions over 1,250,000.
1977: Live births in England and Wales were the lowest number since national statistics have been recorded.
Birthrate 11.6 per thousand (among the lowest in the world).
Abortion is only one factor in the decline of the birthrate but it is a considerable one.
Disquiet is widespread. So is a sense of shame about what is happening in our country.
The only ones who can rejoice are the apostles of zero growth who (mistakenly) hold that fewer births mean less unemployment; we say mistakenly because fewer births also mean smaller markets.
Who can believe that British people would be left in peace with a diminishing and ageing population in one of the naturally richest countries in the world?
In short abortion is almost a sign of an unconscious national death wish.
This is a case where the moral law needs to be buttressed by a civil law. It is not simply an option and a matter of indifference. It is a question of life and death for the country.
To reverse the tide may take a long haul. So did the abolition of the slave trade. But it was abolished in the end, as its degrading effects came to be realised.