LEICESTER, United Kingdom – Catholics in Britain are being called to be “willing to get involved and vote” when general elections are held for Parliament on July 4.

Cardinal Vincent Nichols, President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, issued a video saying the opportunity to vote in a general election is a “privilege.”

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced the election last week, with his Conservative Party looking like it will fall to the Labour Party after being in power for 14 years.

In a statement released after the prime minister’s announcent, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales said during the 6-week election season, Catholics will be “seeking answers which will help the poor, the marginalized, and the vulnerable.”

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While admitting Christians can have a different way of looking at politics, the bishops listed several major areas people should be looking at before they vote.

The Bishops’ Conference issued a statement listing several elements voters should be looking at before they cast their ballot: Criminal Justice; domestic poverty, family life and taxation; education; environment; international relations, human rights and peacebuilding; life issues; and migration.

In his statement, Nichols said voters want to know what their candidates will think and say on their behalf when they get into Parliament.

“I would like to put forward a theme for us all to think about. How do we seek to construct a society in which families can flourish? That’s the bedrock – many positive things flow from that,” the cardinal said.

“I ask you to look at these resources, explore them, become a bit more familiar with them so that when it comes to 4 July, you’ve got in your mind what you want to see the next government strive to achieve,” he continued.

“My view is that our next government should strive to create the circumstances in which families can flourish. So please get ready to vote on 4 July,” Nichols said.

Meanwhile, the Jesuit Refugee Service UK (JRS UK) has set out three priorities for candidates: The repeal of anti-refugee laws; ending immigration detention; and the lifting the ban on work for asylum seekers.

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“Over a number of years, we’ve seen a shocking rise in hostility, scapegoating and cruel policies targeting refugees and asylum seekers. But so many of us want a different approach: one that welcomes women, men and children who come here in search of safety, treats them with dignity and celebrates the gifts they bring,” said Sarah Teather, the Director of JRS UK.

The Catholic organization specifically mentioned the Illegal Migration Act, which bans most refugees from claiming asylum; housing people in appalling settings like barges and disused military barracks; and plans to forcibly transfer people to Rwanda as well as other plans to outsource asylum.

JRS UK noted that every year in the nation, thousands of people are incarcerated, “without any time limit, in prison-like conditions for immigration purposes,” pointing out the decision to detain a person does not even go before a judge.

Sophie Cartwright, JRS UK’s Senior Policy Officer, said through charity’s extensive work with detained persons, they know “detention destroys lives.”

“It is very harmful to people’s physical and mental health. People who have survived torture and then been detained say it’s like being tortured again. Abuse, neglect, and humiliation of detained people are prolific,” she said.

“People seeking asylum are banned from working. This means they are forced to live in poverty, and they are denied a crucial way of participating in society,” Cartwright said.

“People often wait for years in the asylum system, they lose the skills they once had, so it’s harder to work later. For people trying to rebuild their lives, work can be an opportunity to contribute, participate, and support themselves and their families,” she added.

“It is cruel and destructive to deny them this,” Cartwright said.

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