By Vatican News
“Politics in the service of Peace” is the title of the statement, which was made public on Wednesday of Holy Week. The name recalls the theme of Pope Francis’ World Peace Day Message: “Good politics is at the service of peace”. The Bishops say the aim of their statement is to share important principles of Catholic social teaching and to highlight key policy issues that need to be considered before voting.
Respect & Openness
People have a responsibility to present their views clearly “and, if necessary, to disagree”, reads the statement, adding that all views should be respected. “We all have a role in promoting peace”, it continues. This means speaking “with love not hate, with respect not contempt, with understanding not indifference”
The Bishops invite everyone to be “more open, interested and engaged”, in order to combat what they call the “crude tribalism” that is infecting both Australia and other nations at this time. The statement includes a prayer to use during the lead-up to the May 18 election, and stresses the importance of prayer and discernment in the electoral context.
Truth & the Common good
The Australian Bishops warn of what happens when democratic processes are stripped of transcendent truth: they “risk becoming soulless”, say the Bishops in their statement, “with majorities deciding issues based on power, rather than the consideration of truth and the common good”.
“Some find the idea of the common good bemusing”, write the Bishops, “but it’s critically important because it obliges us to look beyond our own needs and desires to consider the interests of the broader community”.
Among the policy issues the Bishops’ statement addresses are: economic fairness, support for the vulnerable and marginalised, including the unborn and the elderly, just treatment of those seeking asylum, action on climate change, and the unacceptable differences in health, education and employment outcomes between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.
The Bishops describe this latter reality as: “A running sore at the heart of the nation”.