Easter faith and political issues

TO THE people of God in the Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn.

Easter faith is the fundamental source of Christian joy, hope and peace! Throughout the centuries, Christians have summarised our united response to the death and resurrection of Jesus in one word: Alleluia! (Praise the risen Lord!)

The arising question soon follows – how is Easter faith to be lived in our daily life? More specifically, in an election year for both the Federal and ACT ‘political worlds’, how is Easter faith to impact on the big political issues of the moment? Such political issues are many today. For example, how is Easter faith to respond to:

• Abortion,

• Euthanasia,

• Same-sex marriage,

• Aboriginal references in the

Australian Constitution,

• Refugees, and so on?

May I suggest a few moral compass markers?

1. We will not locate specific answers to particular political questions of our day simply by finding particular proof texts from the Bible. In the Scriptures, we will find, however, moral and ethical principles, values and general directions, and motivations that will assist us in our common search for human flourishing in our world of today (for example, the ‘Golden Rule’ of Matthew, chapter seven).

2. Our Catholic Tradition will state that though the Catholic Church and the political community both exist in organisational structures, they are by nature and purpose quite distinct. The Church is organised so that its spiritual and prophetic roles are paramount. The political community is to organise temporal structures that serve the common good. Of course, there is much in common in these two worlds, but there is, however, an autonomy and independence to be respected in both. Cooperation is needed (see Gaudium et Spes, s. 40).

3. Catholic social teaching will insist that basic and fundamental human rights must be respected by all. Among others, there is the right to human life from womb to natural death. There is freedom of religious expression and freedom of speech. There are all the human rights of family and children, and so on. The dignity of human persons forms the basis of all human rights. Duties and responsibilities arise from such rights.

4. The Second Vatican Council strongly underlined the duties of the lay faithful in the Church to exercise their baptismal dignity and take on particular responsibility in the world and society. Day-to-day politics and advocacy in the secular world is a particular task of the laity (see Gaudium et Spes, s. 43). All of this important work is part of evangelisation.

In our Australian political world, as in so many Western democracies, ideological agendas abound. Being part of the prophetic Church, we are to distinguish truth from falsehood. We are to focus on what deepens and perpetuates true human happiness and hope. With our gaze on faith and holiness that leads to eternal life, we are best equipped to offer true contributions to the challenges faced by all today.

I am sure there are many other moral compass markers. These are but four examples that come immediately to mind.

In the Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn, there is considerable talent among many faith-filled lay Catholics. In the vexed political world of today, I hope the above offers some cause for reflection and encouragement.

Be assured of my prayers for you and your families.

Yours sincerely in Christ,

Archbishop Christopher Prowse

Catholic Archbishop of Canberra and Goulburn