Christian public servants don’t need to leave their faith at home

By  Ron Stang, Catholic Register Special
  • October 7, 2010
WINDSOR, Ont.  - The speaker of the Canadian Senate assured an audience here that Christians need not be concerned about whether it is “politically correct” to have their religious beliefs guide their public service.

Sen. Noel Kinsella Noël Kinsella told a gathering at Assumption University Oct. 3 that religious values can be the basis of public service whether serving in electoral office, as an employee in the civil service or as a volunteer in a non-governmental organization that seeks societal change.

He said Article 21 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights proclaims the right “of equal access to the public service.” The document also provides for the right “to be free from discrimination” because of religious practice.

“Therefore Christians have the right to participate in public service without any requirement to leave their faith at home,” he said.

Kinsella, 20 years a senator and the upper house’s Speaker since 2006, is a former professor at Fredericton’s St. Thomas University. He also chaired New Brunswick’s human rights commission for 22 years.

His post-secondary education includes studies at St. Thomas Aquinas University and the Pontifical Lateran University, both in Rome.

Kinsella told his audience that Pope Benedict XVI also called public service a “noble vocation” and that it can be understood “as a deeply ethical activity” directed at maintaining the “social foundations” of a community.

“For many,” Kinsella said, “public service is a calling (and is) one way to fulfil the call for us to serve our neighbours.”

He said whether Canadians run for elected office, are employed in the civil service or participate in NGOs, they are contributing “to the public interest and the common good.”

Kinsella, who was speakng as part of the university’s Chiristan Culture series, backed this with theological references. He said the Book of Genesis described man “by his innermost nature” as a “social being” and “unless he relates himself to others he can neither live nor develop his potential.”

He also cited Vatican II’s pastoral constitution which stated that a “salient” feature of the modern world, driven largely by technology, is “the growing interdependence of men  on one another.”

Meanwhile, Kinsella said, “human interdependence is ever more a reality.” He said this was “vividly brought to light” this summer when he hosted government speakers from the G20 nations to discuss issues related to food security.

(Stang is a freelance writer in Windsor, Ont.)

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