The Scottish Parliament Election Resource is a must-read for Catholics ahead of the election on Thursday 06 May.
It includes: Catholic Q&A, bishops' pastoral letter, manifestos, candidate contact details and more. To access the resource visit rcpolitics.org/scottish-parliament-election-2021/
When is the election?
The Scottish Parliament election is on Thursday 06 May. It is an opportunity for the people of Scotland to choose who will represent their region and constituency in the next parliamentary term in Holyrood. Once elected, a representative becomes a Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP).
What is the role of an MSP?
The main role of MSPs is to represent their constituencies or regions on the issues that are important to local people. Ultimately, these issues are considered when MSPs are speaking in debates, considering proposals for laws, or questioning members of the Scottish Government. The Scottish Parliament was established in 1999 to debate legislation and pass laws on devolved matters.
Today's @thetimesscot covers the Scottish bishops' recent pastoral letter on the forthcoming Scottish election on 06 May (paywall).
— Archdiocese of St Andrews & Edinburgh (@archedinburgh) April 12, 2021
Am I voting for an individual candidate or a political party?
Partisan party politics is often the driver for an increasingly fractious political culture today. Love of blue, red, yellow etc often trumps all other values in an increasingly divisive political landscape.
Whilst party politics can be an important consideration, particularly in the Scottish Parliament list system, it is individuals who will make up the parliament and form a government; and some of the most important issues, including abortion and assisted suicide, are commonly decided by a conscience, or free, vote. Therefore, it is critical to ascertain candidates’ personal values and opinions and not concentrate solely on party policies.
This is why the CPO has created a Scottish Parliament Election resource which includes a questionnaire to share with candidates standing in your constituency and on your regional list. We have even created a resource containing details of those candidates to make things easier for you to contact them.
The resource also includes the bishops’ pastoral letter, a guide to voting, and further information on some of the issues you might want to think about before you cast your vote.
Will the Church tell me who I should vote for?
No. The Church does not state any preference for this or that candidate or political party. Instead, the Church intends to instruct and illuminate the consciences of the faithful so that their actions may always serve the integral promotion of the human person and the common good.
The fundamental vocation of the church in the political sphere is to form consciences, and to be the advocate of justice and truth.
— RC Politics (@rcpoliticsuk) April 12, 2021
Which issues are important?
The Church actively engages society on several fundamental issues of peace and justice.
Sanctity of life issues are foundational: deliberately killing the innocent is always inexcusably wrong and sets a pattern of contempt for every other aspect of human dignity. All direct attacks on innocent human life, such as abortion and euthanasia, directly and immediately violate the human person’s most fundamental right – the right to life. All human rights are contingent on the right to life.
Adopting a consistent ethic of life, the Church promotes a broad spectrum of issues seeking to protect human life and promote human dignity from the inception of life until its final moment. Opposition to abortion and euthanasia does not indicate indifference to those who suffer from poverty, violence and injustice. Politics of human life must work to resist the violence of war and avoidable threats to the planet and a healthy environment. And any politics of human dignity must address unjust discrimination, poverty, hunger, employment, education, housing and health care.
Pope John Paul II reminds us that the command never to kill establishes a minimum which we must respect and from which we must start out “in order to say ‘yes’ over and over again, a ‘yes’ which will gradually embrace the entire horizon of the good.”
In the Doctrinal Note on some questions regarding The Participation of Catholics in Political Life, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith states that when political activities come up against moral principles that do not admit of exception, compromise or derogation, the Catholic commitment becomes more laden with responsibility. This, it notes, is the case with:
- Laws concerning abortion and euthanasia. Such laws must defend the basic right to life from conception to natural death. In the same way, it is necessary to recall the duty to respect and protect the rights of the human embryo.
- The family needs to be safeguarded and promoted, based on monogamous marriage between a man and a woman, and protected in its unity and stability in the face of modern laws on divorce: in no way can other forms of cohabitation be placed on the same level as marriage, nor can they receive legal recognition as such.
- Parents should have the freedom to choose an education for their children.
- Society must protect minors and freedom from human trafficking and modern forms of slavery.
- The right to religious freedom and the development of an economy that is at the service of the human person and of the common good, with respect for social justice, the principles of human solidarity and subsidiarity, according to which “the rights of all individuals, families, and organisations and their practical implementation must be acknowledged.”
- Peace. This demands the absolute radical rejection of violence and terrorism and requires a constant and vigilant commitment on the part of all political leaders.
Add to this the call to care for our Common Home and to protect God’s gift of Creation.
What if no candidates or parties fit with my own values?
As Catholics we are called to work for the greatest good. We ought to properly exercise our conscience and good sense. If there is no ‘perfect’ candidate then we may vote for the candidate who most closely fits our moral ideal.
St Thomas More, the patron saint of statesmen and politicians, gave witness by his martyrdom to the inalienable dignity of the human conscience. He refused to bow to the pressures of men and refused to compromise his fidelity to God. He remained loyal to his Catholic faith.
As we think about our own loyalties at this election, consider this quote from Avery Dulles, American Jesuit and Cardinal, who said: “the greatest danger facing the Church in our [world] today is that of an excessive and indiscreet accommodation.” In other words, as Jacques Maritain put it, we risk “kneeling before the world”, instead of kneeling before Christ.
We cannot turn a blind eye to injustice. We need to elect parliamentarians who will stand up and be counted and who will stand up for what is right. We need parliamentarians who will: no longer tolerate the killing of innocent babies in the womb; reject assisted suicide and its implicit acceptance that some lives are not worth living; stand up for religious freedom; recognise the importance of monogamous marriage of man and woman and their openness to new life as the bedrock of society; stand up for the poor and prioritise their need; stand up for all children and ensure that their educational needs are met.
Since all these things matter, so too does the candidate with whom you entrust your vote.