Christians arc beginning to line up for Europe and three Catholic bishops were among the sponsors of an ecumenical campaign "Christians for Europe" launched last week. Bishop Worlock of Portsmouth, Bishop Alexander of Clifton and Bishop Langton Fox of Menevia join Mrs Shirley Williams, Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection, Lord Longford, and the Duke of Norfolk as supporters of the campaign.
Fr Thomas Corbishicy, SJ, of Farm Street, London, deputy chairman of the movement, said he was hopeful the bishops would speak publicly in favour of Britain remaining in the European Economic Com
Dr Ronald Williams, Anglican Bishop of Leicester, introducing the campaign, said there were "powerful religious and spiritual considerations" in favour of staying in Europe. It refurbishes the spiritual links with European Christianity, the original source of Britain's Christian traditions," he said.
Membership of British Christians, with the country's international experience, would also help prevent the Community from becoming "purely a rich man's club."
"Christians for Europe", explain in a statement that "we do not suggest that Christians arc necessarily bound by their faith to be committed to supporting the continuation of Britain's membership of the community .
But they go on to argue that Christians should support it because "a larger Europe, in which each partner brings its own specific insights, will be better able to defend those cultural and spiritual values, which in the past have been an inspiration to mankind and which can still influence men to realise that they do not live by bread alone."
Fr Corbishley said that the concern of those starting the c,..mpaign had beun long before there was threat of withdrawal and Roy Jenkins and Jett* Rey were among the
distinguished contributors to a seminar on Christian social, economic and political responsibilities in the Community last year.
The movement would remain in existence after the referendum to see that Christian values, a "Christian ethos," was maintained in the Community, at least half of whose population is Catholic, he said.
Fr Corbishley said continuing membership would help ecumenical relations in Britain, because they were often much closer on the Continent and we could learn a lot. Also British experience in finding chaplains for immigrant groups -Spaniards for the Spanish, Poles
for the Polish would be useful in helping the many migrant workers in the cornmunity.
Both the Catholic and Anglican Churches have representatives in Brussels, the Vatican being represented by Archbishop Cardinale, former Apostolic Delegate to Britain. There is also an ecumenical centre and L'Office Catholique d'Information sur les Problemes Europeens, which brings influence to bear on Commission policies through seminars and meetings.
The Anglican Board for Social Responsibility has also revised and re-issued their pamphlet "Britain in Europe," following a Synod motion in favour of joining the corn 'nullity, with an appendix contouting an article by Barbara Ward outlining Christian responsibility in Europe.
One of the many points made in the pamphlet is that "the common sharing of community institutions by Britain and Eire can contribute to solving the problem of Ulster." It notes that the Lome Convention, signed earlier this year, gives special access to a score of former CoMmonwealth countries and "is a remarkable breakthrough."
Fr Corbishley said copies of the "Christians for Europe" statement had been sent to all parish priests in the hope that they would pass on information about the group to their parishioners. A panel of speakers is available to address interested groups and on May 13 Fr Corbishley himself will be taking part in an ecumenical debate on the subject in Crawley. Sussex.
It is perhaps a good omen, he observed, that the date of referendum, June 5, is also the feast of the Englishman St Boniface of Crediton, worshipped by millions in Germany, to whose ancestors he brought the faith.
"Christians for Europe": Any donations may be sent to John Selwyn Gummer, 7 Vauxhall Walk, London, SE 1 1 , from whom further information is available.
"Britain in Europe": 25p plus postage trom ' Church Information Oflice, Dean's Yard, London SW1P 3NZ.