Editorial: Voting is our duty

By 
  • October 17, 2019

All Canadians over the age of 18 enjoy the right to vote but, for Catholics, voting is also a duty.

The Catechism calls voting a moral obligation that is part of a social contract that compels citizens to actively engage in the betterment of society. This duty is particularly important at a time in history when many Christian moral values are being dismissed, when freedom of religion is acknowledged grudgingly as a right best closeted in homes and churches, and when a provincial government has banned many of its employees from wearing symbols of faith.

The primary aim of politics is to advance the common good, said Pope Francis. Modern politics, however, rife with personal attacks, unethical practices and boorish partisanship, is becoming uncommonly bad. Politicians can ignore the Pope, but on election day they must heed the voters. It is the one occasion when average citizens play a crucial role by becoming informed, carefully discerning and then choosing candidates most likely to contribute in an ethical, civil and unselfish manner to building a better Canada.

The Catholic Register can offer no opinion on who should be elected in the Oct. 21 federal election. As a registered charity, we are obligated to be totally non-partisan. So we can’t endorse any party or candidate or even critique their platforms. The best we can do is encourage voters to examine the issues, scrutinize the candidates, reflect conscientiously and then vote.

If Catholics fail to engage in the election process they have little right to complain later when politicians shrug off important matters like abortion, euthanasia, religious freedom and conscience rights. Nor would they be credible critics of government indifference towards the environment, poverty reduction, refugee resettlement or other injustices denounced by Catholic social teaching.

The obligation to vote applies even in ridings where no candidates — including the baptized ones — align faithfully with Church teaching on important issues. In those cases, a voter should take the pencil in one hand, pinch their nose with the other, and mark an X for whomever seems most open to dialogue and least hostile to Catholic values.

The Church in Canada needs voters who are informed and engaged, and politicians who will interact with each other and the electorate in a reasoned and civil manner. That is why Cardinal Thomas Collins hosted the country’s largest all-candidates live debate Oct. 3 in Toronto. 

“We need to have people engage in rational discourse with one another in a courteous way,” he said. And politicians need to know that people whose lives are governed by religious values have every right to be heard in the public square.

“This country would be a colder and darker place were it not for people of faith,” Collins said. “Their voice should speak out loudly.”

That voice can be heard no more loudly than on election day. 

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