Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
I write this letter to you as bishop and pastor of the Diocese, and ask that it be read at all Masses this weekend. I wish to place before all Catholic people some considerations in view of the coming Federal election
We enjoy as Australians all the benefits and freedoms of a modern democratic society. Among them is our right to vote into office those candidates whom we judge worthy to represent us at the highest levels of public decision making in the land.
It is the people’s vote, yours and mine, which will in turn give the successful candidate the vote he or she will exercise in determining matters of policy and law in the parliamentary term ahead. During the campaign we have had ample opportunity to scrutinise policy proposals on the range of subjects of current concern: management of the economy, asylum seekers, health and education, the environment and so on. We have also been learning more about the ideas and aspirations of the candidates standing in our electorate. Aside from their policy statements, even more importantly we should be asking ourselves what sort of human and social values characterise our local candidates. What sort of beliefs do they espouse? What sort of values do they hold especially in regard to marriage and the family, in regard to the dignity and sanctity of human life? Is this candidate pro-life? Does he or she reflect the thinking and conduct of a person to whom I am happy, in conscience before God, to confide my vote?
Politicians have differing and variable views as to the great moral issues of our times. Consistent with twenty centuries of clear Christian belief we cannot ignore the enormous moral and social consequence of condoning the deliberate destruction of unborn human life.
Every day in Australia the lives of some 250 defenceless children are extinguished before they have the chance to see the light of day. That averages about one abortion every six minutes, somewhere in our country. There are two abortion clinics in our diocese. This unhappy reality continues because our laws permit easy access to this death-dealing procedure, including its public funding through Medicare.
Most Australians when asked say that there are far too many abortions. In dealing with a difficult and complex situation we can — indeed as Catholics must — deny our vote to a candidate known to support abortion on demand — or for that matter any other procedure which is by its nature gravely immoral, such as euthanasia.
On the other hand, we should support candidates who will strive to ensure that sufficient funding is made available to the many Pregnancy Support groups, both Christian and secular, which provide a wonderful and human support for women in a time of need and enable them to bring their children happily to birth.
We should pray for our candidates. It requires considerable courage and personal sacrifice to stand for pro-life values in today’s political arena. I conclude by calling on you to bring your faith and convictions formed by the gospel to the ballot box on 21st August.
Yours devotedly in Christ,
Most Revd Geoffrey Jarrett,
Bishop of Lismore