Common Good Isn't Common Sense Says Clarke

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Byline: STEVE DOUGHTY;JOHN DEANS

CATHOLIC bishops were criticised by Kenneth Clarke yesterday after they entered the political arena with apparent support for Labour.

They issued a 13,000-word document - The Common Good - which dismissed Thatcherite wealth creation as having generated as much evil as good, as well as backing a raft of new social legislation, including a minimum wage.

The Chancellor said: `I think the Catholic bishops would agree with me that everybody's religious convictions are a matter for themselves.' A statutory minimum wage, he added, would be `quite disastrous' because it would destroy jobs.

The report was produced by a working party led by the Roman Catholic Bishop of Leeds, the Rt Rev David Konstant.

The document, which could influence the votes of more than two million British Catholics, includes a claim that social teaching `allowed' a minimum wage, criticism of the workings of market economics and ideas on `necessary minimum conditions for a fair and prosperous society'.

Cardinal Basil Hume, leader of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales, insisted the document was not `a directive to people about how they should vote', adding: `That would be quite improper on the part of us, the bishops. We expect Catholics to study what we have said and to vote in accordance with a properly informed conscience.'

He said Catholic guiding principles had always meant `protecting and fostering the dignity of every person, and the role played in society by what has been termed `the common good' '. …