SCOTLAND’S Catholics are to be given a strong hint this weekend not to vote Conservative at next month’s General Election.

A pastoral letter from the church’s bishops will be read out at 500 congregations on Sunday urging worshippers to press candidates for their views on issues such as rising food bank need, poverty and the two-child benefit limit.

Church goers will also be advised to quiz would-be MPs on whether they back nuclear weapons and the arms trade, as well as policies towards asylum seekers and refugees.

The Catholic Church has been a leading opponent of the two child benefit limit, which was introduced by the Conservative Government in April 2017. It restricts the child element in Universal Credit and tax credits worth £2780 per child per year to the first two children. Children born as a result or rape are exempt. However, controversially, mothers have to make an application stating the circumstances of the child’s conception.

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon: I’ll debate scaredy cat Boris any time, any place

The letter states: “Sadly, poverty continues to be a scourge for many at home and abroad. Too many people still struggle to make ends meet, homelessness is on the rise, and the two-child limit on tax credits is disproportionately affecting families of faith. This reality cannot and should not endure in our country in the twenty-first century. Reliance on food banks, particularly for families, is a telling criticism of a society that has forgotten its poor people in its midst.”

The letter also raises concerns over the treatment of asylum seekers and refugees – another area where the Conservatives have faced criticism. It says: “Legislation in our country should also welcome refugees, asylum seekers and migrants, remove the inhumane policy of indefinite immigration detention, and provide for those people living in and around conflict zones.”

A Conservative spokesman said: “We have the deepest respect for the Catholic Church in Scotland, and for the enormous contribution it has made to Scottish public life. We wholeheartedly support the Church’s attempts to encourage people to vote on December 12th.”