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The Rector: Joining the Dots

The Rector

Bolton Abbey Parish Magazine

May 2015

Joining the dots

Last month a human tragedy was played out in excruciating detail on the TV news bulletins as some seven hundred would be migrants drowned following the capsizing of their boat in the Mediterranean. Pope Francis, with characteristic directness, got to the heart of the matter: ‘These are men and women like us who seek a better life. Hungry, persecuted, injured, exploited, victims of wars. They were looking for happiness’. Squeezed between their own hopelessness and the unscrupulousness of people traffickers, those who died, along with thousands of our brothers and sisters from all over Africa and the Middle East, were simply seeking what we have: peace, stability, and hope for the future.

The Catholic relief organisation, Caritas, has been one of the foremost agencies in providing practical care for the migrants reaching the shores of southern Europe. Caritas has also been a formidable advocate for a change of political attitude in the European Union: in the words of Don Francesco Soddu, Caritas Italy’s Director: ‘The idea of an impregnable Europe is no longer sustainable under the blows of a humanity desperate to flee their countries’.

Periodically we hear the assertion that politics and religion should not be mixed. The work and advocacy of Caritas and other Christian agencies working across boundaries of race, religion, and nationality, give the lie to such assertions: their work is necessary (at least in part) precisely because of political decisions made elsewhere. Whilst the scriptures do not give Christians explicit instructions about where they should place their cross on the ballot paper, they do offer guidance, sometimes very explicit guidance, about the kind of questions we should be asking of those who seek our votes. Reflecting on, and engaging with, this guidance draws us inexorably into the political arena, since it is only our elected representatives who are in a position to effect change through legislation.

A significant element in Christian self-understanding is that we have all been baptized into one body, the body of Jesus Christ. Like the parts of any body, we are all mutually dependent and have our own unique contribution to make. Is this not a model that we should seek to commend to our politicians, and to the wider culture, as we prepare to elect a new government? With very best wishes,