So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter (2 Thess. 2:15). Guard what has been entrusted to you. Avoid the godless chatter and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge, for by professing it some have missed the mark as regards faith (1 Tim. 6:21-22).

Monday, August 24, 2015

As Canadians approach an election... .

As Canadians approach the federal election, we might keep in mind a sage word from His Grace Charles J. Chaput, OFM Cap., Archbishop of Philadelphia.
In practice, politics is the application of moral conviction to public discourse and the process of lawmaking. Law not only constrains and defends; it also teaches and forms. Law not only reflects culture; it shapes and reshapes it. That’s why Christians can’t avoid political engagement. Politics is never the main content of Christian faith. (Politics) can never provide perfect solutions. But no Christian can avoid the duty to work for more justice and charity in our life as a nation, a task that inescapably involves politics.Source.
Faithful Catholics must seek political office—locally, provincially and federally. The legacy of limp Catholic witness which has plagued our nation for decades must be undone by bona fide Catholics seeking and attaining political office.

Most, if not all, of the candidates who will be running in the forthcoming Canadian federal election have already been chosen. We must look for and vote for those candidates who resolutely defend those values with which Catholics can whole-heartedly agree. And vote we must! Even though there may be the problem of having no candidate in a given riding whom one may in good conscience support, Catholics must vote.

For those of us who have voted in federal elections for several decades, voting for a candidate who is not pro-life, but whose party represents the least worst of the possible outcomes (for our nation's economy, for example) can cause one considerable anxiety.

Every election since the elder Trudeau acquired power seems to involve a crisis of conscience for the Canadian voter, or at least it should. Pierre Elliot Trudeau, Machiavellian that he was, managed to plant the seeds of the destruction of inalienable rights. His son Justin is attempting to reap his father's harvest, and he is so doing with the same tired rhetoric employed in the 1970s and 1980s that reeks of entitlement and narcissism.

To borrow Lord Elrond's lines from (the movie) The Fellowship of The Ring, "Our list of allies grows thin."

What are our options?
  1. Vote for a pro life candidate who is a member of a pro life political party. (In Canada, there is only one Pro-Life political party—the Christian Heritage Party. It's field of candidates is limited. CHP candidates are not running in every riding.)
  2. Vote for a pro life candidate whose party is pro-abortion.
  3. Vote for a candidate who is pro-abortion and whose party is pro-abortion.
Option 3 is unacceptable. Option 1 is ideal. The problem is not enough Catholics vote for independent candidates or "minor" parties. Why that is—Waste of vote? Low information voter? Poorly formed Catholic?—is anyone's guess. Option 2 is becoming less of a consideration. The NDP, Green Party and The Liberal Party are all officially and vehemently pro-abortion.

Where do the party leaders stand?

Justin Trudeau has made it abundantly clear that pro-lifers need not apply to his party.
Justin Trudeau says opponents of abortion need not apply to run for the Liberal Party in the next election because he wants to form a government that is “resolutely pro-choice.” (It seems that choice is only extended to those who agree with Mr. Trudeau. Like father, like son.)
“I have made it clear that future candidates need to be completely understanding that they will be expected to vote pro-choice (pro abortion) on any bills.”
Trudeau said that any potential Liberal candidates looking to reopen the abortion debate will be weeded out during the vetting process for nomination applications.
“That’s part of the green-light process,” he said. “We check on a number of issues: How do you feel about the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, how do you feel about same-sex marriage, how do you feel about pro-choice, where are you on that?” (So much for conscience rights in a Trudeau Canada! Will every citizen be expected to tow the Liberal Party line?)
Exceptions will be made, however, for incumbent opponents of abortion who became MPs before the party officially adopted a pro-choice stance, such as Toronto MPs John McKay and Judy Sgro.
“McKay is deeply rooted in his – in his beliefs and I respect that,” Trudeau said. “But I also know that moving forward, the party that we’re building is – and that we’re continuing to build as we form government will be resolutely pro-choice,” Trudeau said.—Joan Bryden, The Canadian Press/National Post.
The Catholic Archbishop of Edmonton, His Grace Richard Smith, had something to say about Trudeau's cult-like vision of politics:
Smith referred to Trudeau’s comments as “dictatorial” and contrary to fundamental human rights.
“Here we have a man who would like to be Prime Minister some day, dictating to party members that they must vote against fundamental human rights,” he said, referring to the right to life but extending that to the right to freedom of expression and freedom of conscience.
He added the very idea of making it party policy creates a practical problem as well.
“In effect, what they’re saying is, ‘There’s no choice but pro-choice.’ That’s a contradiction in itself,” Smith said.—Edmonton Sun.
Thomas Mulcair, leader of the NDP, has also stated the same policy as Trudeau:
MPs will never vote against a woman’s right to choose (to deny that the child in her womb is a human being), says the party’s leader Thomas Mulcair, who is also making clear that anti-abortion (pro life) candidates are not welcome to run for the party.
Mulcair made the comments after a speech in Quebec on Thursday. He was asked by a reporter whether his party “writes off” voters who are anti-abortion (pro life), thousands of whom were on Parliament Hill Thursday at the annual March For Life.
“In the NDP, no MP is ever going to vote against the woman’s right to choose (someone to assist in the murder of her child). No one (who is sane, morally consistent) will be allowed to run for the NDP if they don’t believe (Mulcair's sophistic dictum) that it is a right in our society for women to make their own (poorly informed) choices on their reproductive health (which exclude the humanness of their unborn child). Period.”
A candidate may be right on a few social justice issues, but when a party defends, regrettably, all but a few paragraphs of Mao's Little Red Book, then a vote for said candidate and party places a voter in the unenviable position of defending injustice to justify his or her vote.

No rational person should attempt to compartmentalize his or her choices by tucking a gravely immoral policy into the recesses of his or her mind in order to justify voting for a candidate because of other legitimate good points. To do so would enable one to vote for a dictator who is an able economist but someone who simultaneously scapegoats certain citizens and sentences them to forced labour and death in order to purify a country of its undesirable citizens. When citizens turn a blind eye to an issue as grave as the execution of their unborn sisters and brothers, a dictatorship is just around the corner.

It's not easy being Green.

Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party of Canada, is a Christian who is personally opposed to abortion, sort of. She, too, sidesteps the issue of the humanity of the unborn child and the need for parental responsibility and respect for life as the first and fundamental inalienable right. The "Green Party officially favours Canada's prochoice status quo. (Financial Post).
Nun corners Elizabeth May on abortion issue. 
If you consider yourself Catholic, do not try to justify your vote for the party of a man or woman who sidesteps the issue of the humanity of the unborn.

Not to Harp-er on the Subject

Prime Minister Harper's Conservative Party affords individual Members of Parliament the most room on the subject of conscience voting. However, the PM has made it clear in the past that
All members of this House, whether they agree with it or not, understand that abortion is legal in Canada and this government, myself included, have made it very clear that the government does not intend to change the law in this regard.—CCBR
FYI—Canada does not have a law one way or the other concerning abortion. Canada is, as more than one Catholic bishop has pointed out, a lawless nation in many respects. There is no law that protects human life in the womb at any stage of development.

The Catholic Voter

What does one do when faced with a field of candidates who all individually promote morally objectionable practices or behaviours or belong to parties that do the same?
  1. "Spoil" a ballot by writing on it "Conscientious Objector"?
  2. Move to another more enlightened riding or electoral district?
  3. Move to Hungary where the Constitution actually protects life from conception to natural death?
  4. Vote for the party that better represents social-political goals harmonious with Catholic teaching?
  5. Vote for the more fair-minded individual?
  6. Vote for the party that better represents the religious freedom of Canadians?
  7. Vote for the party that is more apt at managing the Canadian economy?
Canadian Catholic Bishops (CCCB): election guide: CLICK on LINK
Contrast & Compare—EWTN A Guide to Catholic Teaching and Voting: click HERE.
Criticism of the CCCB Guide
Other commentary:
CLC Election Guide: click HERE; and HERE.
Let's face it, many of us are in situations in ridings/districts that force us to choose between the candidate with the most offensive positions on the issues and the candidate who possesses fewer offensive positions. As Archbishop Chaput said, "(politics) can never provide perfect solutions."

Reshaping the Societal Narrative

As for the future, if there is to be any hope for our country, Catholics must offer the wisdom of the Church's social doctrine in the public arena of ideas. If one cannot let his or her name stand for office, a Catholic must become active in political party riding associations and promote citizen politicians who truly represent the common good as defined by the Church. Catholics can support groups, for example, that promote acceptable candidates in riding associations.

One such effort to foster the common good, at least on the local level, but a potential road map for engagement in the national political arena, is the Metro Vancouver Alliance. Archbishop Miller has thrown the support of the Archdiocese of Vancouver behind the MVA. Unfortunately, a not insignificant number of member groups represent positions incompatible with the teaching of the Catholic Church. That said, the MVA may be a prudent engagement as long as Catholic interests are preserved and theological/moral distinctions are not whitewashed for the sake of some nice, feel good encounters.

The MVA can be a vehicle for disseminating Catholic social teaching in the wider community. The Catholic Matters Project, an initiative of the Archdiocese and an important adjunct under the MVA umbrella, while primarily serving Catholic parishes and institutions, aims to introduce and form in people a sound knowledge of Catholic social teaching.
II. THE COMMON GOOD (Catechism of the Catholic Church)
1905 In keeping with the social nature of man, the good of each individual is necessarily related to the common good, which in turn can be defined only in reference to the human person:
Do not live entirely isolated, having retreated into yourselves, as if you were already justified, but gather instead to seek the common good together.
1906 By common good is to be understood "the sum total of social conditions which allow people, either as groups or as individuals, to reach their fulfillment more fully and more easily." The common good concerns the life of all. It calls for prudence from each, and even more from those who exercise the office of authority. It consists of three essential elements:
1907 First, the common good presupposes respect for the person as such. In the name of the common good, public authorities are bound to respect the fundamental and inalienable rights of the human person. Society should permit each of its members to fulfill his vocation. In particular, the common good resides in the conditions for the exercise of the natural freedoms indispensable for the development of the human vocation, such as "the right to act according to a sound norm of conscience and to safeguard . . . privacy, and rightful freedom also in matters of religion."
1908 Second, the common good requires the social well-being and development of the group itself. Development is the epitome of all social duties. Certainly, it is the proper function of authority to arbitrate, in the name of the common good, between various particular interests; but it should make accessible to each what is needed to lead a truly human life: food, clothing, health, work, education and culture, suitable information, the right to establish a family, and so on.
1909 Finally, the common good requires peace, that is, the stability and security of a just order. It presupposes that authority should ensure by morally acceptable means the security of society and its members. It is the basis of the right to legitimate personal and collective defense.
To be sure, change will be slow. But, we must begin to reshape the hearts and minds of our fellow citizens now.

The Catholic view has been tested and found true over the course of centuries. The Catholic outlook is both timely and timeless. Our "institution" has the staying power while countries come and go the way of the dinosaur. So, we must turn our attention to forming solid Catholics who are morally literate and skilled communicators who can survive in the political environment.

The Church proposes; God disposes (minds and hearts to His Truth).

The Church does not condescend, she speaks to all citizens of every nation with maternal solicitude. She demonstrates a mother's care for the well being of the most vulnerable while acknowledging particular issues which concern the dignity of persons. The Catholic Church speaks truth to power. The Church reminds civil society that conscience must be respected. Perhaps it is best to vote for the candidate least likely to violate people's right to freedom of conscience?
1778 Conscience is a judgment of reason whereby the human person recognizes the moral quality of a concrete act that he is going to perform, is in the process of performing, or has already completed. In all he says and does, man is obliged to follow faithfully what he knows to be just and right. It is by the judgment of his conscience that man perceives and recognizes the prescriptions of the divine law: 
Conscience is a law of the mind; yet [Christians] would not grant that it is nothing more; I mean that it was not a dictate, nor conveyed the notion of responsibility, of duty, of a threat and a promise. . . . 
[Conscience] is a messenger of him, who, both in nature and in grace, speaks to us behind a veil, and teaches and rules us by his representatives. Conscience is the aboriginal Vicar of Christ.
Catholic wisdom is a counterweight to the contemporary temptation to define the public sphere by promoting interests which rob people of their inalienable rights, attack the dignity of human beings and lay waste to human potential.

The socialist ideologies that people (certain political leaders in particular) keep breathing life into—or rather, the enterprise which sucks the life out of societies until they are maimed, broken and populated with amoral zombies—continue to rob our society of the aforementioned goods much as they did the former Soviet Union and still do to various "progressive" states around the world.

The Catholic view of human beings and the natural world, barely represented here, is a treasure that must be confidently offered by Catholics who do not shrink from the responsibility to be guided by the Faith. Haven't we had enough of cafeteria 'c'atholics (a.k.a., hypocrites) who care more about acquiring and retaining personal power than defending human life from conception to natural death and defending the common good?

In those difficult instances when voting for someone is made almost untenable by the positions the candidates or their parties take, perhaps it is easier to think in terms of voting against the most offensive by voting for the least offensive. Certainly, when an individual takes a position on human life that is consonant with Catholic teaching, he or she is a preferable candidate over another who, though they may say he or she is Catholic, does not actually practice the Faith in the public square.

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"A multitude of wise men is the salvation of the world(.)—Wisdom 6:24. Readers are welcome to make rational and responsible comments. Any comment that 1) offends human dignity and/or 2) which constitutes an irrational attack on the Catholic Faith will not go unchallenged. If deemed completely stupid, such a comment will most assuredly not see the light of day. Them's the rules. Don't like 'em? Move on.

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