File photo: A gas cooker is seen in Boroughbridge

By Devin Watkins

Sep 6 2022

As Liz Truss wins the leadership contest for the Conservative Party, English Cardinal Vincent Nichols urges the next British Prime Minister to quickly address the worsening cost-of-living crisis.

Members of Britain’s Conservative Party elected Liz Truss to become Tory leader and consequently the new UK prime minister.

Soon after the news was announced on Monday, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, the Archbishop of Westminster, tweeted his “prayerful support” and congratulations for Ms. Truss.

Sky high energy bills

In his role as the President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, Cardinal Nichols also released a statement calling on the new PM to act quickly to deal with the cost-of-living crisis.

“Catholics are present in every local community, seeking to contribute constantly to the support of those in need. So we are well aware of the dramatic impact this crisis is having, with many people knowing they face choices between ‘heating or eating’, especially as winter approaches. The affluence to which our society has become accustomed seems to be seeping away.”

Price shocks in energy markets due to the war in Ukraine have pushed energy bills in Britain sky high.

A typical UK household has seen their energy bill double since the spring, and projections say the price could triple by early 2023.

Serving common good and subsidiarity

Cardinal Nichols said he and his fellow bishop recognize the complexity of the causes for this crisis, and pointed to Catholic Social Teaching as a guide to find solutions.

“The principle of serving the common good means that the needs of the poorest in society must be given urgent attention,” he said, adding that Britain should focus on helping the elderly and families who struggle to pay their bills.

The Archbishop of Westminster singled out the issues of “the level of welfare benefits and the impact of the two-child cap on universal credit payments”.

Small businesses, he added, need the government’s support to survive, saying they help support employment and family income.

“The principle of subsidiarity can be applied to our centralised system of welfare and public services to make delivery more effective and more efficient. This principle, long part of the social teaching of the Catholic Church, seeks ‘the active participation of private individuals and civil society’ through which ‘it is actually possible to improve social services and welfare programmes, and at the same time save resources’ (Pope Benedict XVI, Caritas in Veritate 60).”

Catholic support for struggling families

The Cardinal also highlighted the work of local Catholic parishes and charities to support those in need.

“No one is to be cast aside or ‘discounted’,” he said. “I am confident that throughout this crisis, the Catholic community will do all we can to act on this conviction and promote this principle.”

Cardinal Nichols also urged Catholics across Britain to offer their time and financial resources to help charitable endeavours.

Catholic schools, too, will continue to assist children “whose parents might be struggling financially or in other ways”.

The English Cardinal concluded his message to Ms. Truss by encouraging everyone to pray that British society might “work together to find ways, both short and long term, to alleviate this crisis which threatens the well-being of so many people.” – Vatican News