The Assembly of Québec Catholic Bishops issued the following message regarding the 2018 Québec General Elections.
In a few weeks, citizens all across Québec will experience an important moment in our political and democratic life. On the eve of the general election of October 1, 2018, the Catholic Bishops of Quebec wish to share some reflections and convictions inspired by the Gospel which is at the foundation of our faith and shapes our humanity.
In these times when cynicism undermines public institutions and the people involved in it, it seems important to us to insist on the important place occupied by political governance in the social organization of our lives. It is indeed through the vitality of our governmental and democratic institutions that our society is built on the basis of the values that we wish to promote collectively.
People who engage in politics deserve our esteem for their personal commitment and respect for their role. This respect will be expressed in the most eloquent way when we go to vote for the person whom we will consider the best to assume this responsibility. As much the people who engage in the political life as those who will have to elect them are called to be enlightened and to be challenged by the vision of the world that the Gospel inspires. This unique perspective is constantly updated by the social teaching of the Church about the great principles of equality and justice, fraternity, openness to others and solidarity, freedom and respect, which must shape our life in society.
For example, the Gospel clearly calls us to respect the dignity of every human person, from the moment of conception until natural death, to respect freedom of conscience, to welcome others in their differences, to be sensitive to refugees and migrants, to be attentive to the most fragile and deprived amongst us and to seek a fair distribution of collective wealth. More particularly, Pope Francis calls us to pay special attention to the environment, our "common home", which we are called to look upon as a gift made by God to humanity, which humanity has the duty to respect and protect.
Inspired by our faith, it is therefore our duty as members of the human community to be informed of each political party’s programme. Closer to home, we must look at the position of each of the candidates on the current major issues of our society, to find out which one proposes measures that go in the direction promoted by the Gospel and by the social teaching of the Church.
It is clear, however, that no programme, whatever it may be, will meet all our expectations as women and men of faith. How then to discern the best? To discern with only one criterion in order to separate the various programmes would not be enough to become the entire basis for one’s electoral choice. The world in which we live and the one we want to build are complex realities and call for a discernment that takes into account several factors that are sometimes, unfortunately, contradictory: respect for the environment or economic development, reduction of taxes or widening social protections, etc.
As Cardinal Turcotte often said, "politics are the art of the possible". Echoing this, it seems to us necessary to be able to discern which programme will be, in our eyes, both the truest to our faith and the most relevant to our society. It is therefore up to each and every one of us, in the face of our conscience and in prayer, after having informed ourselves, having reflected and discussed with others, to give one’s vote to the person and to the political party whose orientations and vision correspond best, in our view, to the ideals in the Gospel that the Lord Jesus taught us in order to build a new humanity.
We could run a great risk, as a provincial community, if we give up the need to create a more sustainable common home and if we give in to the temptation of fatalism in the face of the complexity of the problems. The difficulties that a society such as ours sometimes encounters should not inspire a call for renunciation, but should lead to action to build a more just and fraternal world.
By participating in the provincial election of October 1st, we will contribute to empower our faith with words and means, to build a world that takes in a little more flavour from the gospel.
That's why every vote is an action for a better society, one we all want.
+ Noël Simard
Bishop of Valleyfield
President of the Assembly of Québec Catholic Bishops