The bishops of England and Wales have distributed a letter to all parishes encouraging Catholics to play an active part in the General Election.

While voting for any particular political party is a matter of conscience, the bishops encourage people to use their vote at this pivotal time for our nations, as we prepare to leave the European Union.

The letter lays out broad principles to guide our thinking in the run-up to the election, taken from Pope Francis’ Evangelii Gaudium.

“To a great extent the outcome of this election will determine the approach taken on how leaving the European Union is achieved, the priorities we pursue and the values we wish to treasure as our own in the UK and as partners with countries around the world,” the letter reads.

“It will determine how we can heal divisions in our society, care for the vulnerable, how our public services are run and whether we can remain a united kingdom.”

The letter lists specific issues for consideration and to raise with candidates, including how best to encourage and enable families to flourish, promote freedom of religion across the world and care for refugees and asylum seekers.

The letter concludes with a prayer: “Lord grant us wisdom to act always with integrity, seeking the protection and flourishing of all, and building a society based on justice and peace.”