Catholic bishops urge public to judge politicians on what they do for the poor

Letter notes 'rising inequality, increased loneliness for older people, job insecurity and over-stretched community services'

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Catholics are being urged to judge politicians based on what they can do for the homeless, hungry and “those most in need” in a letter sent to hundreds of thousands of people by bishops.

Cardinal Vincent Nichols, the leader of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, said he was alarmed at the levels of poverty in Britain. “It's shocking that in a society that is as rich as ours there are people, even people in employment, dependant on food banks and hand-outs,” he said, according to The Daily Telegraph.

The letter, from the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, asks people to find out where general election candidates “stand on directly helping the poorest and most vulnerable people in the UK and also helping to transform their lives”.

And it notes “rising inequality, increased loneliness for older people, job insecurity and over-stretched community services”.

“Government policies should be assessed on the ways in which they impact those most in need, including those who are homeless or hungry, and how they support and strengthen the family and its capacity to flourish,” the letter says.

“There are many families in our communities who are financially vulnerable and struggle to make ends meet; housing and living costs are high. Many people do not have a living wage to support them and their families.

“Too many have to turn to the state for additional income and to external voluntary support such as food banks. The market economy exists to serve humanity. People are not merely economic units to be exploited.”

Cardinal Nichols added that the letter “asks us to pay particular attention to those struggling in poverty today and trying to maintain their dignity”.

Last week, Church of England bishops issued a letter that attacked consumerism, individualism and the Coalition Government’s treatment of the poorest in society.

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