NSW votes: Questions for Catholics to ask
By Chris Meney, Catholic Outlook, March 2011
At the State election on 26 March, we will have the opportunity to again shape the NSW parliamentary chamber for another four years. The most recent term of this parliament has significantly altered the social landscape through legislation permitting both same sex adoption and surrogacy.
It is also worth noting the Greens’ ongoing enthusiasm for sponsoring motions to decriminalise abortion and to legalise euthanasia.
Dramatic and damaging cultural change can occur when ordinary citizens do not challenge political candidates on their positions in the lead up to any election.
With respect to matters in relation to life, marriage and family there are some key questions which ought to be put directly to candidates by NSW voters. These include:
It is vital for persons of good will to feature considerations in support of human life and of marriage and family in their deliberations prior to casting their vote.
Do you support keeping our current law against abortion as a means of offering some protection for women and unborn children from traumatic injury and malpractice as well as expressing values in favour of human life?
Do you support marriage as the union of one man and one woman as defined in the Commonwealth Marriage Act, and will you reject attempts at a State level to introduce same-sex ceremonies which mimic marriage?
Will you actively support palliative care for the dying and those suffering terminal illness and reject attempts to legalise the medical killing of such persons by euthanasia?
Do you believe that people of faith should be able to contribute to the common good especially through health and education services, and do you support the right of faith communities to preferentially employ persons who are willing and able to witness to the values and beliefs of a particular faith tradition?
If abortion is decriminalised then the lives of more unborn persons will be destroyed and more vulnerable women will be harmed.
If MPs fail to actively defend and promote the essential social value of heterosexual marriage and the best interests of children to know and be raised by a mother and a father as far as is possible, then adult wants will continue to trump the rights of children.
If elected representatives are reluctant to argue against the State-sanctioned killing of fellow citizens then it will be the frail, the elderly and the disabled among us who will be most at risk through legalised euthanasia.
And if there is no determined parliamentary resolve to allow Church bodies to continue to contribute to the common good through faith-based health and educational facilities then a radical and ruthless secularism will destroy that authentic pluralism that is so vital for a flourishing democratic state.
Other matters may be relevant, but a present-day NSW citizen should give due weight to what Pope Benedict XVI has called the three “non-negotiables":
- “protection of life in all its stages, from the first moment of conception until natural death;
- recognition and promotion of the natural structure of the family
- as a union between a man and a woman based on marriage - and its defence from attempts to make it juridically equivalent to radically different forms of union which in reality harm it and contribute to its destabilisation, obscuring its particular character and its irreplaceable social role; and
- the protection of the right of parents to educate their children.
These principles are not truths of faith, even though they receive further light and confirmation from faith; they are inscribed in human nature itself and therefore they are common to all humanity ... (When) these principles are denied or misunderstood, this constitutes an offence against the truth of the human person, a grave wound inflicted onto justice itself”.
Now is the best time to question candidates about issues in relation to the defence of human life, marriage and the family. It might even be worth asking the respective leaders of each of the major parties to clarify whether they are willing to provide brave and important leadership on such vital issues or if they prefer to simply adopt the ‘Where are my people? I must rush to follow them’ approach. Chris Meney is Director of the Life, Marriage and Family Centre in the Archdiocese of Sydney: www.lifemarriagefamily.org.au
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