Open Letter to Canadian Catholics from the Catholic Organization for Life and Family What Country for Tomorrow?
On January 23, Canadians will choose a new government. The electoral campaign is an ideal opportunity to reflect on the type of country we wish to build and bequeath to future generations. As such, we find it important to emphasize certain considerations which have not received the attention they deserve over the last few weeks.
At this time in the history of Canada, a realistic look at society reveals a fundamental problem – the loss of respect for human life and dignity. This is evident in so many ways: the legal void that permits abortion right up to birth; medical research that authorizes the destruction of embryos; a mentality that increasingly favours euthanasia and assisted suicide; the gratuitous violence in our schoolyards; abuse of women and children; the violent deaths of young men; the silence that surrounds so many situations of poverty; the widespread incidence of prostitution, pornography and drugs.
Human life and human dignity encounter too many obstacles in Canada. As we prepare to elect a new government, we must determine the position of candidates on the first of all human rights: the right to life. If this is not respected, should we be surprised that other rights will sooner or later be threatened?
The family is also under attack. The recent redefinition of marriage in our country contradicts the reality inscribed in nature. It has become urgent to announce to the next generations God’s plan for human love and marriage between a man and a woman as the foundation of the family. It is also urgent to ensure that our schools respect these convictions by not proposing a conflicting vision to our children.
It is our responsibility to demand that the next government develop policies to support married couples who are ensuring the survival of society by giving birth to new citizens and raising them in the most stable environment. We should also remember that the family, as the vital social unit, is not at the service of the state; rather, the state should be at the service of the family. Following the principle of subsidiarity, the state is to respect the rights of the family and, through fiscal and social policies, help it to fulfill its duties, including the raising of children.
Many Canadian families live below the poverty line. In a spirit of justice, it is up to us to work towards a better distribution of resources and equitable access to essential goods so that all will be assured of a decent quality of life.
Freedom of expression
As we prepare to vote for those who will direct the destiny of our country in the years to come, we believe it is important to draw attention to a phenomenon that is increasing in Canadian society and which threatens our very togetherness. We are referring to an erroneous understanding of the separation of Church and State – a misunderstanding with ramifications for religious freedom.
We are witnessing an obvious effort by some in society who wish to relegate religion to the private lives of citizens. This aggressive secular ideology refuses religion the right to exist in the public square. In the name of pluralism and secularity, then, there is a desire to exclude from public dialogue those who promote religious values, even when these can be defended by human reason and experience.
As Catholic citizens, we not only have the moral duty to exercise our civic and political responsibilities, but also the right to be involved in the life of society, each according to his or her own area of expertise, and without denying the Gospel values that are central to our lives. We are not obliged to suppress our moral conscience in order to live in society. There should be no separation – but instead coherence – between our faith and our daily choices, made evident in our personal, family, professional, political and cultural decisions.
In a democracy, the state is to ensure that believers have the opportunity to contribute freely to society. Because they are full citizens, they must be able to contribute to the evolution of the country, proposing a vision for the future and solutions to current problems, as do other citizens who may promote other values.
The Gospel invites us to build a culture of life. Let us take advantage of this election campaign and engage in serious discernment as we consider the candidates in light of the Gospel principles. We are invited to:
- Examine critically the platform of each party; participate in local debates; meet candidates and discuss with them; explain our point of view;
- Evaluate these platforms in the light of the plan of God by studying the social doctrine of the Church;
- Make an informed decision as we consider the moral implications of various electoral platforms and their eventual repercussions on our life and on the lives of all members of the human family.
The question for the Catholic voter is: How, in the light of the Gospel, can I use my vote to advance the common good in Canada and throughout the world?
The Catholic Organization for Life and Family is an autonomous non-profit corporation co-sponsored by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Supreme Council of the Knights of Columbus.
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