So much of what we do in Canada is influenced by politics. We are not only a democracy, but a socially democratic democracy that skews largely to the left in social policies and government actions. The traditional media (Old Media) is very much left wing as we all know, and most politicians try not to touch seemingly settled social issues with the proverbial 10 foot pole. Are elections any exception to this? Not really, since the way to power in Canada lies in the Middle, and in Canada that Middle has gone far over to the left. A number of moral issues are completely off the discussion radar it seems: mercy-killing, abortion, destructive stem cell experimentation, divorce, homosexual unions/marriage, gender/sexuality debates. The list goes on. So, what can we debate? As social conservatives the list seems miniscule. Even more as priests, we are often asked if we even CAN debate. After all, we are told that the Church must not involve itself in partisan politics, which often translates as the Church must not involve itself in politics at all since ALL politics are partisan, and to think otherwise is uninformed and naïve.
This is wrong; we need to shake off the decades old banner of a misguided view of the Church and Canadian politics. For decades, I have been warned that we must not repeat the mistake of the Church’s involvement in Quebec, as if to blame all of the collapse of the Church on a very narrow reading of Quebec social history in the 20th century. The Church’s involvement in Quebec provincial politics was not nearly as effective in its clout, nor as disastrous in its consequences as many would tout. (I would advise a close reading of Conrad Black’s excellent biography of the Union Nationale premier, Maurice Duplessis, in this area.) Besides this, we have come a very long way in 60 years in the political scene in Canada since then.
This election we must be clear about the needs of believers and especially for us as pro-lifers, as to what we are called to preach and teach.
What can and ought we say, teach and preach?
1) Believers must go and vote!! It seems simplistic but when very large minorities of Canadian do not vote, that counts too. The poet, Yeats said, “The best lack all conviction while the worst are filled with passionate intensity.” We must teach that is a MORAL obligation to vote. It is quiet voice and action multiplied by tens of millions. Especially in close elections, individual votes count.
2) As priests we must outline moral issues. We currently have a Liberal government that is vocally and actively pro-death and anti-Culture of Life pouring millions into the killing of children and vulnerable people in our country and around the world. At each doorstep we need to say to canvassers – are you willing to stop the killing? People are willing and eager to debate indigenous issues and climate change. Are we ready to speak up about pro-life?
3) We need to be clear that political parties make public choices. The national election campaign chair of New Democrats was the executive director of an abortion clinic and referral agency in Winnipeg. Does anyone think that that party will enshrine pro-life policies?
4) We need to teach about the role of an INFORMED conscience and how to form that conscience according to the view of Christ and His Church. We need to teach and preach about the real hierarchy of values in an election decision. And do it at least weeks before the advance polls open. Without a right to life no other rights are worth while.
5) When you get this newsletter- act on it- Speak, Preach and Teach! The election campaign is short. The results can be lifelong.