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From Jude and Barbara Malone.

We tried to encourage some priests with a view to directing our Catholic voters to take a proper look at the candidates for the Federal Election just past. We voters should first consider candidates who are Pro-Life (rather than Pro-Death).

I just read an article in The Interim, by Fr. Ted Colleton, "On Politics and Christianity." Some parts of it refer exactly to what we want our hierarchy to do.

For instance, Bishop James Wingle of St. Catharines sent fliers to all his priests, outlining the importance of voting pro-life.

We believe that this same message should have come from the one who oversees the Bishops, i.e. the CCCB, and spread all over Canada. There is no way of knowing what effect this might have had on the outcome of the election. One thing is certain. Our hierarchy could then have said that they did their very best. This is not the case now.

Burlington, ON

Editor replies:

With respect to Mr. Hogg's letter, we should avoid making rash and possibly uncharitable judgments. Excessive indignation eats away at our faith and loyalty to the Church, through which we receive the Grace of God, beyond which everything else is trivial

With respect to the second letter, in the Catholic Church the top is the Pope; in each diocese it is the bishop. National conferences of bishops, such as the CCCB, do not have teaching authority in matters of faith and morals. Their promulgations are suggestions of opinions only.

The American bishops met in Colorado in June 2004 to discuss the question of pro-abortion Catholic politicians and the reception of Holy Communion and what they--the bishops--should do about it. They affirmed--by a vote of 182 to 6--that any official stand or disciplinary action in these matters must come from the local bishop. This is in accordance with Canon Law, always with the proviso that the bishop teaches and acts in union with the Holy Father.

Catholic Insight has printed articles on this election issue in the U.S. and Canada in a general manner in previous editions, and in a specific way in the September issue (Editorial, p. 3, and Cardinal Ratzinger, "A letter on Holy Communion" on p. 23).

The rule that the local bishop is the only authorized teacher in a diocese presents the modern dilemma that--with immediate nation-wide communication--a bishop in one diocese speaks out, or acts, and the bishop in the next diocese keeps silent or, perhaps, even opposes any action at all. That may, and often does lead, to confusion, especially in liturgical matters. But laity must discern their own duties and form their own conscience with the help of the Church. As I pointed out, the teaching of the Church herself is clear.

In the Catholic Church--in matters of discipline--bishops will take different approaches; similarly with individual priests who also must act according to their own conscience enlightened by the teaching authority of the Church.

In the final analysis, elections and political questions fall in the domain of the laity, as the Second Vatican Council has made very clear. So if bishops, or priests, fall down on their obligations, that does not mean that the laity have to remain silent. Social affairs belong to the competence of the laity, not of a conference of bishops. The latter provide general outlines only.
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Title Annotation:Letters To The Editor
Author:Malone, Barbara
Publication:Catholic Insight
Article Type:Letter to the Editor
Date:Oct 1, 2004
Previous Article:From David Hogg on elections & the Canadian bishops.
Next Article:From George E. Hickie re AIDS.

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