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Building a better democracy

Australian Catholics were asked this week to give special consideration to value questions prior to casting their votes in the forthcoming Federal election.

The Australian Catholic Bishops' Conference has issued a set of nine principles within which, they say, a just society should be built. Unlike the hardline US Bishops, some of whom have threatened to withhold the Eucharist from Catholics who they say do not uphold traditional Catholic values, the Australian Bishops expressly state that they are not supporting any political party and that they do not seek to compromise the freedom of Catholic voters.

The Bishops' recommendations include the re-consideration of traditional Catholic positions as well as suggestions for specific actions. These include:

  • commitment to life at all stages of human existence
  • renewed support for the family, and systems which offer it support
  • broad access to quality education
  • provision of adequate health care, especially for the frail aged
  • a national strategy to alleviate poverty, particularly of the 'working poor' and those in rural areas
  • commitment to Aboriginal participation in decision making affecting indigenous issues
  • recognition of the human rights of migrants, asylum seekers and refugees, including the abolition of long term incarceration of asylum seekers and a specific prohibition of the detention of children
  • equity in the distribution of the world's resources, to achieve lasting peace
  • practical measures to alleviate environmental degradation such as land salination; fair distribution of water and the more careful management of fragile eco systems.

    In asking Catholics to consider these values before they cast their votes, the Bishops expressly call for an end to the contemporary tendency to decision making based on excessive self interest, whether at a personal or national level.

    "The true advancement of the nation depends not just on material prosperity, but upon building a Commonwealth for the common good," the Statement concludes.

    - See the statement

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