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DETROIT, August 20, 2015 (ChurchMilitant.com) - Campaign Life Coalition (CLC), a Canadian-based pro-life advocacy group, has issued its Election Guide for Serious Christians to serve as a counterweight to the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishop's Federal Election Guide, released this month. ChurchMilitant.com spoke with Jack Fonseca, political strategist at CLC, who offered his frank thoughts on the Catholic bishops' booklet.
CM: What are your overall thoughts on the CCCB's Federal Election Guide?
Jack Fonseca: This election guide has some good in it, but on the whole, it's a pretty lousy document. It's largely unhelpful to the Catholic community and, in fact, might even be conducive to perpetuating evil at the ballot box. That's on account of the guide's equal ranking of minor, even secular, public policy issues with the need to fight the abortion holocaust in our nation.
CM: Do you think the bishops spoke out strongly enough against abortion?
Jack Fonseca: Kudos to the bishops for including respect for human life within the list of candidate evaluation criteria. And it's great that within that section, they alluded to abortion, even though they stopped short of actually saying the "A" word. I don't know why they'd avoid saying the name of the evil that all Christians must fight. I'm speculating it may have been the influence of the many liberal-minded advisors who surround the bishops. That omission was a mistake because it allows people to gloss over it too quickly. It fails to make as strong an impression on one's memory as it could, if the word "abortion" had been mentioned. I'm guessing that may have been the objective of whatever advisor influenced the wording of this guide.
It's also good that the bishops highlighted the evil of assisted suicide and euthanasia, in light of the recent diktat by Canada's Supreme Court that Parliament must legalize those forms of homicide. However, after highlighting abortion (albeit by avoiding the word) and euthanasia, the bishops weakened this statement by injecting into the "Respect for Life" category opposition to capital punishment, as well as support for the poor. Why would they do such a thing?
First of all, capital punishment is not an issue in Canada. It has been banned for decades and no political party is trying to bring it back. Secondly, there's no political party in Canada that says it wants the poor to suffer. All parties claim they help the poor and disadvantaged.
It seems to me that these items were injected for the purpose of allowing left-leaning Catholics wiggle room to vote for pro-abortion candidates, and not be left with a troubled conscience, so long as the candidates oppose capital punishment or claim to support the poor more than their opponents. This is absolutely nuts.
CM: Do you think bishops spoke with sufficient clarity on other issues?
Jack Fonseca: It was frustrating to see the bishops' wishy-washy guidance to Catholics on how to assess the candidates on these issues. The guide asks, "What positions are the candidates taking?" instead of instructing Catholic voters to ask candidates direct questions like: "Are you in favor of abortion being legal?" or "Do you support legalizing euthanasia and assisted suicide?" That's how Catholics need to be directed — not all this namby-pamby beating around the bush and escape clauses to enable a clean conscience if you want to vote for a pro-abortion candidate.
CM: What other problems do you see in the bishops' election guide?
Jack Fonseca: Another glaring problem with this guide is that it did not state that a candidate's position on abortion and euthanasia outweigh all the other issues in this guide. Sure, they placed it at the top of the list of issues, and that's good. But they did not state anywhere that it's the most important issue. This can and will be interpreted by many Catholics as all the issues carrying equal weight in one's decision of whom to vote for.
It's disturbing to me that the bishops would put out a document that allows Catholics to interpret that ensuring "pay equity between men and women" is just as important as where a candidate stands on the annual slaughter of more than 100,000 Canadian babies who are ripped from their mothers' wombs and torn to pieces. The guide places a nebulous issue like "[p]roviding access to quality hospital care for all" on the same level of importance as, let's say, where you stand on legalizing euthanasia. That's absurd.
First of all, access to hospital care is a provincial issue, not a federal one. The feds have absolutely no authority over this matter. It doesn't even belong in a federal election guide. Secondly, how to provide access to quality hospital care largely falls to prudential judgement. It may be impossible to objectively determine which party's approach will be more effective with respect to access to hospital care. Even the best economists struggle to persuade everyone to their view. The Church really isn't equipped to decide which party has the best approach in areas like this. So giving Catholics the impression that a lesser, murky issue like "hospital access" has equal priority to where a politician stands on the question of granting doctors the power to kill their patients is absolutely preposterous.
It's also rather glaring that there is not one mention of the raging culture war on the disputed theory of gender identity. In Canada, anti-family ideologues are trying to pass federal legislation that would enshrine in Canadian law the fundamentally anti-Christian belief that being male or female is merely a social construct. When this current Parliament dissolved, it ended a dangerous gender identity bill that had already passed in the House of Commons and was on a trajectory to pass the Senate, too. The false ideologies of gender identity and gender expression directly attack Christian anthropology of the human person. Why is the bishops' guide totally silent on this threat to the Church, to family life, to the common good of society and to sexually confused individuals themselves?
CM: What would you like to see going forward from the Canadian bishops?
Jack Fonseca: I really wish the bishops would jettison all these so-called "social justice" issues from their election guides and stick to a list of non-negotiable moral principles which are actually relevant in today's political scene and more appropriate to the Church's religious domain: abortion, euthanasia, marriage, religious freedom, etc. If we straighten out these things, it will also help lift women and children out of poverty. Many of the ostensible goals of "social justice" would also be accomplished by focusing on the more urgent threats facing Canadian families and the spiritual health of the nation.
Read CLC's Election Guide for Serious Christians here.