RESOLUTION ON THE PARTICIPATION OF ALL FOR THE COMMON GOOD (2004)
Toward a True Understanding of Tolerance and Plurality in Moral and
Brother knights of Saint Patrick’s Basilica Council 12158 of the Knights of Columbus, in the heart of the Nation’s Capital, believe that we must challenge the conventional wisdom as expressed by many of our co-religionists, who in their exercise of political office separate themselves into two parallel lives, one of private Christian conscience and beliefs and the other as a neutral political broker for all points of view.
We believe, with Pope John Paul II who said, in reflecting upon the life of Saint Thomas More, Patron of Statesmen and Politicians, that “truth is one” and that “man cannot be separated from God, nor politics from morality”. We believe that a Christian laity can and should bring Christian values to politics while still respecting church and state independence.
We believe that the virtues of tolerance of others and respect for the diversity and plurality of humankind, which are indeed true fruits of charity, are frequently being used to create in society an increasing antipathy towards the promotion of fundamental moral laws and even truth itself.
In this present political environment, a plurality of ethical options, many inimical to Christian belief, must be “tolerated” by fair minded people, including Catholic politicians. Hence we now have the (only too familiar and corrosive) formula: “I am personally opposed to __(fill in the blank)__, but I respect a person’s right to choose.” This mutable concept of “tolerance” however, increasingly does not extend to those who express their belief in moral principles that do not admit of exception, or compromise in such issues as, among others, abortion, euthanasia, or the
re-definition of marriage.
Many of our own Catholic politicians share a confusion over the Church’s teachings, referring to them as merely sectarian values and not as integral truth rooted in human nature and natural moral law and which are applicable to the common good. In the following resolution, our St. Patrick’s Basilica (Ottawa) Council 12158 has been inspired and guided on these issues by the Vatican’s Doctrinal note on the Participation of Catholics in Political Life, as approved by Pope John Paul II November 21, 2002:
1. Whereas, freedom of religion and freedom of speech are two of the fundamental rights enjoyed by Canadians since this nation’s beginnings and are furthermore guaranteed to Canadians under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms;
2. Whereas, Christians in public life, in voicing their traditional and deeply held convictions regarding the fundamental nature of the human person and the protection of the common good, are properly exercising these guaranteed freedoms, and yet by this, have become increasingly accused of “intolerance” and “bigotry”.
3. Whereas, this false characterization is used to censure or even sanction those who hold traditional Christian views, with a view to silencing and disqualifying them from political participation, disingenuously under the principle of separation of church and state, thus creating an “intolerant secularism” (1);
4. Whereas, the political separation of church and state is historically and properly defined as the disestablishment of a state-sponsored religion (which Canada has never had), it neither suggests nor requires the suppression of religious or moral convictions in the public forum; moreover the political sphere is rightfully autonomous from the Church “but not from
that of morality”. (1)
5. Whereas, an informed conscience does not permit a Christian to vote for a political program or individual law which contradicts fundamentally held moral convictions; moreover “those who are involved in lawmaking bodies have a ‘grave and clear obligation to oppose’ any law that attacks human life”. (1)
6. Whereas, following adoption of the Charter, individual rights and freedoms have consistently preoccupied the political and judicial branches of government, overriding “fundamental and inalienable ethical demands” to the increasing detriment of the “integral good of the human person” and the common good of all, because “authentic freedom does not exist without the truth”. (1)
7. Whereas, while there is a legitimate plurality of temporal options and methodologies open to Christians and others, an “ethical pluralism” that reflects moral relativism by abandoning truth is “injurious to democratic life” and “sanctions the decadence and disintegration of reason and the principles of the natural moral law” which would “threaten the very
spiritual and cultural foundations of civilization”. (1)
Therefore, be it resolved that,
Christian politicians and laity, guided by a Christian conscience, exercise their right and duty to express deeply held ethical and moral convictions and never relinquish them in their participation in public life;
Christians and others reject the false concept of “ethical pluralism” that promotes moral relativism at the expense of the right reason and natural ethics which can be shared by all people of diverse backgrounds; and that
All Canadians, be free and “tolerated” to voice their values and contribute to the development of political solutions and legislative choices which, in their opinion, will most benefit the common good.
(1) Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Doctrinal Note on some questions regarding The Participation of Catholics in Political Life, approved by John Paul II November 21, 2002.