Catholics Invited to Vote with Discernment

Categories: Sabbath Issues

Last year, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops provided Catholic constituent voters with an official guide that would help them know how to vote and who do vote for in terms of protecting Catholic interests: Read what was posted on their website in 2011:

“(CCCB – Ottawa)… With a federal election campaign underway, the Commission for Justice and Peace of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) has issued a guide inviting Catholics to vote with discernment.In its “Federal Election 2011 Guide”, the Commission lists some basic principles from Catholic moral and social teaching to help voters analyse and evaluate public policies and programs. The document focuses especially on respect for life and the dignity of the human person, social justice, the family, world peace and the environment. While recognizing there are times when “choices may prove very difficult,” the Commission for Justice and Peace also observes that a well-formed Christian conscience does not permit one to vote for a political program or an individual law which opposes or differs from the fundamental content of faith and morals.” (Retrieved July 18, 2012 from http://www.cccb.ca/site/eng/media-room/3098-guide-for-2011-federal-election).

While at first glance this seems as par for the Catholic course, a little investigation points to the true nature of this 2011 Federal Election guide. First, read the following excerpts from Catholic-based websites (words in bold, supplied)

“It’s becoming a common affliction across Canada: election fatigue. But as the country gets ready for its fourth federal election in seven years, the Church is reminding us just what is at stake. Hours after the government fell last week, the Canadian bishops released their 2011 Federal Election Guide. They want the faithful to evaluate candidates and party platforms in light of five priority areas.” (Retrieved July 28, 2012 from http://saltandlighttv.ca/blog/?p=21362)

“Canada’s Catholic bishops have provided a 2011 federal election guide to provide a “magnifying glass” to guide judgments about party platforms and candidates. It provides examples of Catholic moral and social teaching in five areas: respect for life and human dignity; building a more just society; the person and the family; Canada’s role in world justice and peace; and a healthy environment.” (Retrieved July 28, 2012 from http://wcr.ab.ca/WCRThisWeek/Stories/tabid/61/entryid/779/Default.aspx)

These other websites specify that there are five areas that are of interest to the Catholic. What are these five areas? The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops identifies it thus (bold/underlined, supplied):

“…The episcopal conference has recently identified the strengthening of marriage and of family life as one of five priorities for our common attention in the next several years. The other four are protecting the life and dignityof  the human person at every stage of life’s journey; handing on the faith in the context of sacramental practice and the observance of Sunday worship; fostering vocations to ordained priesthood and consecrated life; and profiting from the cultural diversity of the church here, especially from the gifts of Hispanic Catholics.” (Retrieved July 28, 2012 from http://www.uspapalvisit.org/speeches/text02_nationalshrine_george.htm)

In light this knowledge, read some of the main parts of the 2011 Federal Election Guide:

“The following are examples of how Catholic moral and social teaching is to be applied. They do not constitute a political platform but a magnifying glass by which to analyze and evaluate public policies and programs.

1. Respect for life and human dignity: from conception to natural death
Choosing life means:
  • Demanding the right to life for even the smallest among us – the human embryo and the foetus – since they too belong to the human family, while also providing assistance to pregnant women facing difficulties;
  • Protecting all persons from being exploited by biomedical technologies;
  • Respecting the life and dignity of the dying, accompanying them until their natural death and promoting greater access to palliative care;
  • Rejecting capital punishment, promoting the rehabilitation of criminals and ensuring support for their victims;
  • Defending and caring for individuals in all circumstances, beginning with the poorest and most vulnerable;
  • Supporting and accompanying individuals with disabilities, the elderly, the sick, the poor and those who are suffering.
What do the political parties say about these issues? What positions are the candidates taking?

The following are examples of how Catholic moral and social teaching is to be applied. They do not constitute a political platform but a magnifying glass by which to analyze and evaluate public policies and programs.

1. Respect for life and human dignity: from conception to natural deathChoosing life means:

  • Demanding the right to life for even the smallest among us – the human embryo and the foetus – since they too belong to the human family, while also providing assistance to pregnant women facing difficulties
  • Protecting all persons from being exploited by biomedical technologies
  • Respecting the life and dignity of the dying, accompanying them until their natural death and promoting greater access to palliative care
  • Rejecting capital punishment, promoting the rehabilitation of criminals and ensuring support for their victims
  • Defending and caring for individuals in all circumstances, beginning with the poorest and most vulnerable
  • Supporting and accompanying individuals with disabilities, the elderly, the sick, the poor and those who are suffering.

What do the political parties say about these issues? What positions are the candidates taking?

2. Building a more just society

The desire to create a more just society includes:

  • Adopting measures to reduce poverty;
  • Introducing equitable fiscal policies for companies and individuals;
  • Ending excessive, unjustified spending;
  • Promoting access to safe, affordable housing for destitute families;
  • Coming to the aid of the homeless;
  • Fighting child poverty;
  • Ensuring a basic income that is sufficient for the basics of food and housing;
  • Facilitating access to drinking water for communities that are lacking;
  • Finding permanent solutions to the problems experienced by indigenous communities.

What do the political parties say about these issues? What positions are the candidates taking?

3. The person and the family

  • Promoting the integrity of the person and family includes:
  • Promoting a better balance between familial and professional responsibilities;
  • Ensuring pay equity between men and women;
  • Guaranteeing sufficient basic income for an adequate quality of life;
  • Providing access to quality hospital care for all;
  • Supporting the reunification of immigrant and refugee families;
  • Facilitating the recognition of the skills of immigrants;
  • Taking actions against human trafficking;
  • Protecting people from addictions to drugs and gambling.

What do the political parties say about these issues? What positions are the candidates taking?

4. Canada in the world: providing leadership for justice and peace

  • Believing in justice and peace includes:
  • Striving to reach the Millennium Development Goals established by the United Nations;
  • Choosing policies that promote dialogue leading to peace rather than confrontation among nations;
  • Working to eliminate nuclear, chemical and bacteriological weapons, and encouraging strict worldwide controls on the sales of small arms and personal weapons;
  • Honouring international treaties on human rights;
  • Protecting the dignity of immigrants and refugees when handling their files;
  • Protecting the rights of seasonal workers from abroad;
  • Combating business and industry practices that have little regard for workers’ rights and dignity.

What do the political parties say about these issues? What positions are the candidates taking?

5. A healthy country in a healthy environment

  • Protecting the environment means, among other things:
  • Implementing responsible stewardship practices for the environment;
  • Honouring international agreements to reduce greenhouse gas emissions;
  • Reducing our dependence on fossil fuels;
  • Taking steps to control urban pollution;
  • Introducing forms of transportation that are less harmful to the health of citizens and the environment;
  • Encouraging companies to invest in renewable energy and energy efficiency;
  • Developing natural resources without harming the quality of life in communities;
  • Protecting water as an essential resource;
  • Bequeathing a sustainable and healthy environment to future generations.

What do the political parties say about these issues? What positions are the candidates taking?
(Retrieved July 28, 2-12  from http://www.cccb.ca/site/images/stories/pdf/2011_Federal_Election_Guide.pdf)

Can you analyze the words above from the 2011 Federal Election Guide and determine which ones pertain to Sunday observance? Be careful how you vote for issues! It is better not to cast a vote at all and risk lending your influence to the Sunday-rest movement behind the scenes.