Bishop of Ely speaks out on European Union saying it is about human rights and not just economics

Bishop of Ely

Bishop of Ely - Credit: Archant

Membership of the European Union is about human rights and justice, as well as economic considerations, says the Bishop of Ely.

Preaching at the Norfolk Justice Service 2016 in King’s Lynn, the Rt Rev Stephen Conway drew on Biblical calls for compassion, and pointed to the enshrining of access to justice in English law by the Plantagenet monarchs of the mid-12th century.

The Bishop said: “Medieval kingship was judged by the access to the law of the poor and under-privileged. With characteristic energy and verve, Henry II developed Anglo-Saxon justice to bring the courts close to local people.

“I would be careful to make a direct link between the Angevin Empire and the European Union across eight hundred years. Nonetheless, we need to be rightly concerned about our access to what ‘great-spirited’ means in relation to guaranteeing the direct human rights of every adult and child in this country in perpetuity.

“I suspect that very few people have a clear view of the benefits or defaults of our leaving the European Union from an economic point of view. What we do need to consider carefully is our future relationship with the European Courts of Justice.”

He continued: “Much is said about the sovereignty of our nation. As Christians, our national interest is always going to be overturned by our dual citizenship within the kingdom of heaven, which asserts the rights of individuals and groups because we proclaim the irreducible value of every human being under God.

“In America, there is a danger that alienated and dissatisfied citizens might adopt the belief that the best way to combat extremism is to define yourself over-against others, like judging Mexicans who cross the border into the USA. As Pope Francis has said, you have to build bridges and not walls to be a Christian.

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“We are reminded that Jesus refused to be defined over-against anybody in Israel and so took all the violence of the world into himself. He took all this and more to the cross. Candidates to be president of America or victors of referendums are all to be judged by their commitment to radical access to justice, which always says more about the judge than about the plaintiff.”

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