Next Federal Election: Bishops Call on Catholics to Make an Informed ChoiceMonday, April 19 2004
(CCCB-Ottawa) With a federal election on the horizon, Canadian Catholics are being encouraged to weigh the issues carefully, be inspired by the Church’s moral and social teachings and to exercise their right to vote which is an important responsibility for the common good of society.
The invitation is contained in a new document entitled Election 2004: Responsibility and Discernment issued by the Social Affairs Commission of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB).
Catholics are called on to form a clear discernment of the political challenges of today’s society. The bishops of the Social Affairs Commission say this discernment “would seem to involve at least three elements: a basic knowledge and acceptance of the principles of Catholic teaching; sufficient familiarity with the platforms of the candidates; and careful consideration of how the candidates will best reflect one’s most deeply held principles.”
The document offers Catholics a framework for reflection that the bishops hope will prepare voters to exercise their democratic right as Canadian citizens in 2004. The framework includes “key principles of Catholic moral and social teaching. They are not a political platform but a lens through which to examine and evaluate public policy and programs.”
Four major themes are highlighted in the document: respect for the life and dignity of the human person; support for marriage and the family; the preferential option for the poor; and the common good. Each of these themes is briefly outlined and is accompanied by Scripture references or comments from Pope John Paul II. In addition, possible questions are presented for Catholics to ask of candidates or their political parties. These address issues such as the redefinition of marriage, assisting families, the growing gap between rich and poor, the lack of affordable housing, and increasing international aid.
Catholic voters are also reminded that their responsibility to participate politically does not end with the announcement of the election results. “This is merely the beginning. Catholics want to develop healthy communities. An important sign of a healthy community is when informed and responsible citizens engage their political representatives in ongoing public dialogue on pressing societal concerns. Nothing less can be expected of Christians who are called to be truly responsible for all people.”
The full text of Election 2004: Responsibility and Discernment may be found on the CCCB website at www.cccb.ca.