LECIESTER, United Kingdom – Catholics can’t “watch from the balcony” during the United Kingdom’s Dec. 12 general election, according to the bishops of England and Wales.

The election was called by Prime Minister Boris Johnson after he failed to push through his Brexit deal in Parliament and comes just 2 1/2 years after the last vote. It’s the first December election in the UK since 1923.

Polls show the ruling Conservative party leading with 42 percent, followed by the Labour Party with 30 percent, with the Liberal Democrats coming in third with about 15 percent.

YouGov is predicting the Conservatives will have a 68-seat majority in Parliament.

“Conscious of the common good of every person and our society as a whole, we ask everyone to engage with the election and vote,” the bishops said in a Nov. 29 statement issued at the end of the Autumn meeting.

“Honest political activity depends upon integrity. We urge all in public life to recognize that telling the truth, not making vindictive and abusive comments or unattainable promises, are essential,” the bishops continued.

The bishops acknowledged that the question of the United Kingdom’s place in Europe has dominated the political discourse.

“In whatever way our future relationship with our closest neighbors develops, Britain must be committed to a positive engagement as a key international partner in promoting peace, security and responsible stewardship of the planet,” the statement said.

“Citizens have a duty to emphasize and help shape a politics rooted in the service of human rights and peace. The test of any policy should be its impact upon human dignity, particularly for the most disadvantaged in our society,” it continued.

In their statement, the bishops asked Catholics to consider several points before choosing a candidate to support.

These include respecting the innate dignity of every human being; defending both the child in the womb and the good of the mother; the dignified care for those who are terminally ill and dying, while opposing the “false compassion” of assisted suicide or euthanasia; and the needs of those who are frequently neglected or discarded by society.

The bishop also called for politicians to challenge “the global rise of xenophobia and racism,” and to help the process of integration for migrants and refugees in the country.

Other issues mentioned by the bishops included fighting global poverty, protecting the environment, respect for religious freedom, protections for marriage, and respecting the rights of parents to raise their children in accordance with their faith.

“We call on all Catholics to pray for the wellbeing of our society. May the Holy Spirit guide our choice as we seek together, and for all, ‘life to the full’,” the bishops concluded.

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales issued their statement a week after the Scottish Bishops’ conference warned against “divisive” politics ahead of the poll.

Follow Charles Collins on Twitter: @CharlesinRome

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