By Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic News Service
Federal election issues from a Catholic perspective were up for discussion at an event Oct. 9 in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon, as the country prepares to go to the polls on Monday, Oct. 21.
Bishop Mark Hagemoen hosted the event at the Cathedral of the Holy Family, which included video excerpts from a recent Federal Election Debate from a Catholic Perspective, hosted by the Archdiocese of Toronto.
A discussion followed on Catholic teaching and the issues facing voters, led by Bishop Mark Hagemoen, with input from Myron Rogal, coordinator of Justice and Peace in the diocese of Saskatoon; Cristin Dorgan Lee, vice-principal at St. Michael Community School in the Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools division; and Fr. Joseph Salihu, pastor of St. Augustine Parish in Humboldt.
The video debate from Toronto featured candidates representing five political parties: the Conservatives, the Green Party, the Liberals, the New Democratic Party, and the People’s Party of Canada. Questions from a Catholic perspective were posed on topics that included poverty, Christian persecution, life issues, and the environment. Only a brief mention was made in the Toronto debate of issues related to reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples — an area addressed more fully at the Saskatoon event by Cristin Dorgan Lee.
A number of election reflection resources were available during the event, including the CCCB Federal Election Guide, a “For Heaven’s Sake, Vote!” booklet from Novalis, and a compilation of Catholic teaching and party positions on a number of issues, created by the diocese communications office using resources from Catholic Conscience.
In a letter to the faithful Oct. 10 Bishop Mark Hagemoen clarified that while no political party can be promoted at any Catholic Church, “it is certainly appropriate to make available the positions of all political parties on moral and social issues.”
He concluded: “For Catholics, voting is not only a duty, but should be done well. A key feature in carrying out one’s duty and responsibility to vote is to exercise and inform one’s conscience. This is particularly important because we are called to be voices that speak to virtue, healing and decency in politics and social engagement. We are also called to be mindful of both our needs and goals, and those of others — especially those who are unable to speak for themselves.”