Thursday, March 31, 2011

Thursday in Lent Week III - The Bishops Offer Canadian Catholics a Voters' Guide

Prayer for Thursday of the Third Week of Lent

We implore your majesty most humbly, O Lord, that as the feast day of our salvation draws ever closer, so we may press forward all the more eagerly towards the worthy celebration of the paschal mystery. Through our Lord.

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Left to right: Lorna Dueck, cameraman Moussa Faddoul
The other afternoon, I wandered up on Parliament Hill to tape an interview with Lorna Dueck of ListenUp! (Crossroads Communications). I had rarely seen so few people on the Hill, which allowed me to snap the following photos, which serve as the framework for the introductory points in the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops suggestions of issues and values to keep in mind when choosing a new government on May 2.  The full text may be consulted at the CCCB/CECC website in English ( and French ( :

Voting: a right and responsibility

Canadian Catholics are being called upon as citizens to exercise their right to vote. The Church encourages and reasserts its belief in “the political freedom and responsibility of citizens.” By exercising their right to vote, citizens fulfill their duty of choosing a government and at the same time send a clear signal to the candidates being presented by the political parties.

Political candidates are citizens too. In addition, they assume responsibility for the well being of the public. Their commitment and dedication are a generous contribution to society’s common good. Indeed, the purpose of the political community is the common good. What is the common good? It is “the sum of those conditions of … social life whereby people, families and associations more adequately and readily may attain their own perfection.”

Examples of the application of Catholic moral and social teaching

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?

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Voter : un droit et un devoir

En tant que citoyens canadiens, les catholiques seront appelés à exercer leur droit de vote. L’Église saisit l’occasion pour encourager et promouvoir « la liberté politique et la responsabilité des citoyens ». En exerçant leur droit de vote, les électeurs remplissent leur devoir de choisir un gouvernement et envoient un signal clair aux candidats des partis politiques.

Les candidats aux élections sont également des citoyens qui assument des responsabilités pour le bien-être de la population. Par leur engagement et leur dévouement, ils contribuent généreusement au bien commun de notre société qui est par ailleurs le but principal de la communauté politique . Qu’est-ce que le bien commun? C’est « l’ensemble des conditions de vie sociale qui permettent aux hommes, aux familles et aux groupements de s’accomplir plus complètement et plus facilement . »

Exemples de la mise en œuvre de l’enseignement moral et social catholique

Les exemples suivants ne constituent pas un programme politique, mais plutôt une lentille à travers laquelle on peut analyser et évaluer les politiques et les programmes publics.

1. Respect de la vie et de la dignité de la personne : de la conception à la mort naturelle

Opter pour la vie, c’est :
• exiger le droit à la vie pour les plus petits parmi nous – les embryons et les fœtus – qui font partie de la famille humaine, ainsi qu’apporter de l’aide aux femmes enceintes qui vivent des situations difficiles;
• protéger chaque personne contre toute tentative d’instrumentalisation liées aux technologies biomédicales;
• respecter la vie et la dignité des personnes mourantes et les accompagner jusqu’à leur mort naturelle en favorisant un plus grand accès aux soins palliatifs;
• rejeter la peine de mort et miser sur la réhabilitation des criminels et l’aide aux victimes;
• défendre les personnes et prendre soin d’elles en toutes circonstances – en commençant par les plus vulnérables et les plus pauvres;
• soutenir et accompagner les personnes handicapées, âgées, malades, pauvres ou souffrantes.

Qu’en disent les partis politiques? Qu’en pensent les candidats?