By Alison Bradish
Understand your civic vocation, civic charism, and vote well.
This is what Catholic Conscience is encouraging Saskatchewan Catholics to do on October 26th.
The nonpartisan group is not advocating who to vote for. But they will tell you how to vote.
Informed, prayerfully, and confidently.
Matthew Marquardt is the founder of Catholic Conscience a group gaining traction since the last federal election in 2019.
“Our basic mission is to bring Gospel values and the social teachings of the Church into civic discourse,” says Marquardt. This is done through voter education and the formation of potential candidates.
Marquardt noted there are many organizations trying to get Catholics politically involved, but they all seem to be single-issue organizations.
“That’s really not our focus,” adds Brendan Steven, the executive director of Catholic Conscience.
“We really want a Catholic civic engagement that is full and complete in terms of Catholic social teaching,” he explains.
Catholic Conscience aims to help voters understand what Catholic Social Doctrine entails so they can form their consciences and vote accordingly.
Marquardt and Steven freely acknowledge no sole political party gets it right on all the tenets of Catholic Social Doctrine; life and human dignity, stewardship of creation, community and the common good, option for the poor and vulnerable, rights and responsibilities and subsidiarity, solidary, justice, and peace.
Despite this, the group wants to help voters understand how Catholic social teaching affects their daily lives and those of others. The hope is this information will propel voters to challenge their candidates about important matters not only before the election but after by keeping elected officials accountable.
For Steven, his experience working in partisan politics left him seeing a need for political parties to provide more transparency and information to electors about policy prior to the polls opening.
One trend Steven finds troubling is political parties releasing platforms only one or two weeks before an election, or worst yet, not providing one at all. He says voters need to know what policies are proposed and how they will be costed.
Steven sees how political partisanship has seeped into so many areas of the voter experience that important conversations are getting lost.
“The debate format by nature is somewhat confrontational. It encourages candidates to criticize one another and the other parties rather than really articulating their policies and why they believe the things that they believe,” explains Steven.
To help with this, Catholic Conscience is in the process of setting up an interview format for representatives of each political party in Saskatchewan to talk one on one with a moderator about how their policies and platform hold up to Catholic Social teaching and why Catholics should vote for their party.
All five bishops in Saskatchewan signed off on the invitation. The video interviews would be available to the public online and act as a pilot project for other jurisdictions in Canada and the next federal election.
The provincial election is set for October 26th. Advanced polls run from October 20th to 24th.
An analysis of how party platforms hold up to Catholic Social teaching can be found at https://catholicconscience.org/saskatchewan2020/
Alison Bradish lives in Moose Jaw with her husband and two children. They attend St. Joseph’s Parish. She earned Bachelor of Arts in Journalism at the University of Regina. She is naturally curious about local and world events. She writes from her home where she strives to bloom where she is planted. She often feels pulled to the topics of religion, education and politics.
Page URL: http://archregina.sk.ca/news/2020/10/15/group-wants-help-voters-understand-how-catholic-social-teaching-affects-their-lives