In his pastoral letter published online in the Catholic Outlook yesterday, Bishop Manning says that Vatican Council II taught that Catholic men and women have the responsibility to carry the presence of Jesus into all spheres of human activity and that participation in the democratic process is an important way of exercising that responsibility.
Quoting Vatican II documents, Bishop Manning says that by voting, and by offering themselves as candidates, Catholics promote the common good, and prepare the way for the Gospel.
"We influence society in the quality of life we share by making informed moral choices when we cast our votes in an election. Catholics must embrace this apostolate of influence," Bishop Manning writes.
According to Bishop Manning, a false separation of politics from faith leads to moral erosion, "as we have seen in recent debates in the Federal Parliament on the issues of cloning and RU486."
But he says Catholics must respect the rules of a democracy.
"In a democracy, we do not seek to impose Catholic teaching on all, but we believe that Catholic teaching works for the good of all, for a stable society, and for the promotion of human dignity, human rights and freedom," the Parramatta bishop said.
In his letter, Bishop Manning lists six moral principles "which Catholics must follow in exercising their right to vote", including protecting life in all its stages, recognising and promoting the natural family based on marriage between man and woman and protecting the rights of parents to educate their children.
Other principles require Catholics to acknowledge the need to serve the poor and the vulnerable, to promote the dignity of workers and to protect the well being of children.
He adds that the faithful must seek peace by promoting global solidarity and acknowledging the importance of care for the environment.
A Pastoral Letter on civic responsibility (Bishop Kevin Manning, Parramatta)
LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Catholic Diocese of Parramatta | Bishop Kevin Manning
Arabic Heritage League Award for Parramatta's Bishop Manning (CathNews, 9/5/06)
Bishop Manning named a "Champion of the West" (CathNews, 6/4/06)
Bishop speaks out against dissenters on ecumenism (CathNews, 12/8/05)
Bishop hits back at Minister's claims on IR reforms (CathNews, 1/6/05)
Bishop Manning named a "Champion of the West" (CathNews, 10/11/04)
9 Mar 2007