Dear brothers and sisters in Christ of the Archdiocese of Regina,
In the coming days, the people of Saskatchewan will be going to the polls for both provincial and municipal elections. As you know, Catholics are called to be engaged citizens, and to participate in the electoral process as able, using every opportunity to serve the integral promotion of the human person and the common good. We are all aware of unhealthy developments in our democracy and in the erosion of public discourse about meaningful issues. A few days ago I sat down with a few colleagues to reflect on how we bring our faith to bear in the way we approach the election. These reflections are a result of that conversation.
The first thing we did was to attend to Pope Francis’s new Encyclical on human fraternity, Fratelli tutti, and on the fifth chapter, on “A better kind of politics.” Pope Francis observes that “for many people today, politics is a distasteful word” (176), but insists that it needn’t be so. Our current needs globally and in each nation call for “a better kind of politics, one truly at the service of the common good” (154), one “capable of reforming and coordinating institutions” (177), upholding the dignity of the human person, and putting social love at the forefront rather than economics. Love is not only personal and devotional; it has a civic and political dimension (181). It is an act of love, for instance, “to strive to organize and structure society so that one’s neighbour will not find himself in poverty…. If someone helps an elderly person cross a river, that is a fine act of charity. The politician, on the other hand, builds a bridge, and that too is an act of charity” (186).
Pope Francis offers challenging words to those engaged in politics, noting: “politics is something more noble than posturing, marketing and media spin… we do well to ask ourselves, ‘Why I am doing this?’, ‘What is my real aim?’ For as time goes on, reflecting on the past, the questions will not be: ‘How many people endorsed me?’, ‘How many voted for me?’… The real, and potentially painful, questions will be, ‘How much love did I put into my work?’ ‘How much social peace did I sow?’ ‘What good did I achieve in the position that was entrusted to me?’” (197).
Asking hard questions isn’t reserved for political candidates. At a time of polarization and hardening of political lines, it is also important to think about how we participate in the political process, and to recognize the ways in which our political engagement shapes both our own spiritual health and that of our communities. In addition to carefully studying how our Catholic values are or are not represented in the various party platforms, we need to also attend carefully to the impact that politics has on our souls. Do we find that our engagement with our neighbours who might not share our political commitments builds up our capacity to engage in rigorous but respectful dialogue, our willingness to work together for the common good? Do we ever find it difficult to imagine that a good person might come to a different political conclusion than we do? If we are honest before God in prayer, do we find ourselves more or less charitable, or patient, or honest, or generous, because of our political activities and commitments? As Catholics, we should recognize that the health of our society depends more on our own and our community’s growth in virtue than on who wins the next election. So I invite us all to consider that an election is not merely a matter of deciding who to vote for, but a way in which we grow or fail in virtue, a way to build up or tear down our communities.
With the forthcoming provincial election in mind, the Saskatchewan Bishops have approved a non-partisan resource for voters in our province, in collaboration with an organization called Catholic Conscience. We have set up a website, https://catholicconscience.org/saskatchewan2020/ , which “offers voters an opportunity to ensure that Saskatchewan is guided by leaders who will provide practical and efficient leadership with the good of all in mind – including the unborn, the elderly, the young, families, and those who are too often forgotten by society – as well as workers, farmers, business owners, and all future generations.” The website provides a range of information to assist with your discernment, and most notably, a chart which identifies various aspects of Catholic social and moral teaching, and provides the statements from the platforms of the parties running in the forthcoming election. Political parties have been approached and invited to update or provide new information so that anyone using the website will have as comprehensive information as possible. We are immensely grateful to be able to work with “Catholic Conscience,” and hope that you will find this website helpful.
The Catholic voting process always involves informing ourselves about the teachings of the Church and issues relevant to the election, and looking at what our voting options are. Once the election is over, we are also encouraged to stay actively and respectfully engaged with those who have been elected – whether they are our own preferred candidates or not.
Finally, we are encouraged to bring our own discernment, and those running for office, to prayer. Let’s conclude this reflection in prayer:
Lord, Father of our human family,
Your Son Jesus taught us in the Parable of the Good Samaritan
that each of us is called to care for our brothers and sisters
without concern for our differences or what divides us.
Pour your spirit out upon each and every one of us:
Give us, and all involved in the forthcoming election,
a spirit of humility, to acknowledge our failures,
a spirit of gratitude for each of the gifts that you have given us,
a spirit of wisdom, to guide our actions in accordance with your teaching.
a spirit of fraternity so that we might have concern for the most vulnerable,
and a spirit of love, so that we might abide even more fully in you.
O God, Trinity of Love, from the profound communion of your divine life,
grant each and every one of us a deeper sense of unity.
Give to us a desire to sacrifice ourselves for our brothers and sisters.
Help us live like your family did, with simplicity in Nazareth
and as the early Christian community did, whose charity spread throughout the world.
O Good Shepherd, Christ the King,
you are our guide.
Continue to guide us, then, to your will
in this, and in every moment of our lives.
Our Lady of the Rosary, pray for us.
St Joseph, pray for us.
St Joan of Arc, pray for us.
St Juan Diego Cuahtaltoatzin, pray for us.
St Kateri Tekakwitha, pray for us.
Archbishop Don’s Weekly Message – Watch HERE