CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 13 July 2019

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Get political the Australian bishops urge their people

SYDNEY (SE): As Australia wades through its longest ever election campaign on the torturous road to the July 2 polling day, the bishops of the Land Down Under have released a strong appeal for Christians to pressure political parties for an end to what they call the throwaway culture espoused by the two candidates for the top job, the incumbent prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, and opposition leader, Bill Shorten.

They note in a May 16 statement that in the effort to win the day-to-day battles on the nation’s 24-hour newscasts, the two leaders are sticking closely to economic management, which they admit in a time of uncertainty is of great importance, but not the final siren.

The bishops say they want to speak to the campaign—not in order to push an ideological line, but warn against a culture they believe is prepared to sacrifice even the most basic values that underpin the culture of society to honour the economic god.

“The fact is that economic decisions have been less and less favourable to families in recent years; and it may be that political decisions in the future will undermine further the dignity and uniqueness of marriage as a lifelong union of man and woman,” they point out.

They admit that support for marriage and the family life does not look like a big vote-winner this time round, which they believe relegates the most basic of human institutions, upon which the health of a society depends, to the list of optional extras.

They then ask what it means for Australia not to care for its most basic social institution and wonder what type of society can evolve when its jewels have been spoiled, adding that if politicians will not address these questions, then others must do it for them.

They also ask what it means not to care for its weakest members—its widows and lepers at the bottom of the economic pile.

“If we fail to ask these questions… then much that goes on in this or any other election campaign will be political theatre that does not address the real issues,” they note.

They also list some of the voiceless in society, many of whom—like asylum seekers, the unemployed and the sick—the economic number crunchers seek to vilify in their attempt to buy votes with disinformation about quick fixes for imagined problems.

The bishops are appealing to all Christians to use their political voices during this campaign.

“Christians cannot afford to be voiceless through this campaign. On all kinds of issues we need to make our voices heard. But to do that we will have to listen first—not only to the voice of the voiceless, but even to the voice of God,” they say.

“We mean first listening to God who has a word to speak in all this—the God who is neither voiceless nor faceless. If we can listen to God’s voice, then there is a chance that we might be able to speak with a voice that is not just our own,” they continue.

“To listen to God and to the voiceless is in the end the same thing. In hearing their voice, we can hear the voice of God. That is where the real God is; that is how the real God communicates,” the bishops conclude.

They are calling on all Christians to participate in this campaign not with the voice of the spin-doctor, but with the voice of those who are never heard.

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