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In this podcast Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster says that the document seeks to exhort and encourage

Choosing the Common Good from Catholic Westminster on Vimeo.

Choosing the Common Good

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I am glad to introduce this Statement by the Bishops Conference of England and Wales. Its title: Choosing the Common Good has echoes of an earlier document we issued in 1996. Since then much has changed in our society. But some of the underlying principles and values by which we seek to construct a just and civil society have not.

In this brief document we seek to present some of the key themes of Catholic Social Teaching, not least in the light of some of its recent developments and of the changed conditions in contemporary Britain.

Some of that development is due to the teaching of Pope Benedict XVI and the series of teaching documents which he has published. The most recent of these was his Encyclical Letter on integral human development, with the title Charity in Truth (Caritas in Veritate). This document was well received, notably by those who were struggling with the consequences of the financial crisis occurring at the time of its publication. The implications of that crisis are still very much with us. The relevance of the document remains.

Two events are anticipated in the publication of this Statement.

The first is a forthcoming General Election. We offer this Statement as a contribution to the wider debate on the important themes of the moment. It forms a backdrop to the more particular issues which may well dominate the election itself. But it proposes that without a wider debate about a shared vision for our society, the electioneering may well be confined to bitter arguments over issues of particular policy. We need a more wideranging debate about the values and vision which can underpin all our joint effort today.

In this Statement, some attention is given to particular applications of the general principles. These are necessarily selective and not comprehensive. At the time of the announcement of a General Election we shall publish a shorter document, inviting voters to consider and pursue more particular points of policy.

The second event anticipated here is the forthcoming visit of Pope Benedict XVI to these countries in the autumn. We hope that this document will introduce some of the patterns of Catholic thought to those who are unfamiliar with them and indicate the ways in which that thought can be a significant contribution to our common endeavours.

I am glad to commend this Statement to you.

Archbishop Vincent Nichols

President of the Bishops Conference of England and Wales