By Linda Bordoni
The people of Portugal go to the polls on 30 January to elect a new parliament, and the nation’s Catholic Bishops are reminding citizens of their duty to vote and calling on politicians to address key economic and health issues.
Voters will be called to elect the 230 members of the Portuguese Assembly of the Republic. The vote was called after Antonio Costa’s minority Socialist government was defeated by a key budget vote in October.
In a statement summarizing the work of their Standing Committee, the Bishops invite citizens not to boycott the polls and politicians to address the most urgent problems of the country, including poverty and economic cohesion, while reiterating their invitation to get vaccinated to fight Covid.
Protection of life, poverty, environment, migration
Spelling out some major concerns for the country, the Portuguese Bishops’ Conference issues an appeal to political parties to present clear proposals, highlighting in particular policies that regard the integral protection of life, situations of poverty and economic cohesion and issues of justice.
They also shine the light on environmental concerns amid the increasing desertification of the country and the situation of migrants.
Independent Committee for the Study of Child Abuse in the Church
The Bishops, the statement goes on to say, welcome the Independent Committee for the Study of Child Abuse in the Church, whose team has begun to collect testimonies from all those who want to come forward and report the abuse they have suffered.
Appeal to get vaccinated
The Portuguese prelates also reiterate their appeal for anti-Covid vaccination highlighting the importance to act for the common good. They do not neglect to call for greater attention in the application of protective measures in liturgical spaces: distancing, hygiene and the use of masks.
2 new documents
Also on the Conference's agenda is the examination of two documents to be submitted to the next Plenary Assembly: "Lay Ministries for a Ministerial Church" and "Itinerary of Initiation into Christian Life with Families, Children and Adolescents," currently being analysed by diocesan and other ecclesial bodies.
Finally, a Pastoral Note is being prepared that will present the new edition of the Roman Missal in force as of Holy Thursday. It reveals that the next Pastoral Days have been set for June 20-22, addressing the theme of synodality.