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Canadians take the fundamental right to vote for granted. Just as Christians are called to be immersed in a spiritual life, they are called as citizens to engage in their civic duty. Photo/Public domain

A time to meddle

  • August 13, 2015

An understandable reaction to an early August federal election call for an Oct. 19 vote is to declare a pox on all their houses and turn deaf ears to such an excruciatingly long campaign. Eleven weeks of insincere promises and attack ads. Who needs their summer sun darkened by those black clouds?

Like it or not, however, we have an obligation to take a deep breath and heed the campaigning thunderclap. As Pope Francis has said, “a good Catholic meddles in politics.” That advice is particularly worthy during the weeks when the privileged residents of a free, democratic society are invited to exercise their right to back candidates and then choose the leaders who will govern them.

Canadians tend to take that fundamental right for granted. It is a right withheld from billions of people around the world who are either denied free elections or line up to vote in rigged ones. Ask them how they’d feel about an 11-week campaign that invited them to get involved in a safe and open process leading to an honest vote and a government chosen by the people. How many would lament the cost or moan that voters shouldn’t be expected to pay attention for 2 1/2 months?

Just as Christians are called to become immersed in a spiritual life, they are called as citizens to engage in a civic duty at election time. During the campaign period, that means studying the parties and candidates to discern how they align with the values Christians expect political leaders to reflect.

The trend in modern democracies is for politicians to devalue or abandon outright many of the Judeo-Christian values that underlie Western society. In Canada, for instance, this has brought an ongoing erosion of attitudes related to fundamental life and family values. Most recently, early this month, with no government objection, Health Canada approved the abortion pill RU-486 for use in Canada. In coming months, following a Supreme Court decision, Canada’s next Parliament is required to bring in assisted suicide and euthanasia.

There are countless other reasons for Catholic voters to become political meddlers. In addition to life issues, the next Parliament will face a wide range of pressing decisions touching on such fundamental matters as peace, civil rights, immigration, employment, poverty, religious freedom and the environment.

This uncommonly long campaign may be unpopular but for Catholic voters it offers time to thoroughly vet aspiring MPs and to advocate for a Canada that exemplifies the attributes of mercy, compassion, generosity and justice that Pope Francis has so eloquently espoused. That means seeking those increasingly rare political men and women who epitomize integrity, courage and humility, and who will unfailingly defend Christian values. It means interrupting summer plans and finding time to become a political meddler.

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