Bishop calls politicians' party loyalty 'corrupt'
Bunbury's Bishop Gerard Holohan has said political parties "violate 'the rules of justice' when members of parliament are forced to follow 'the party line', instead of other courses of action they believe to be in the best interests of their electors".
In his Lenten Pastoral Letter to be released today, Bishop Holohan describes such pressure on politicians as "a grievous corruption of the principles of justice that safeguard democracy in a society".
The Letter, titled Do they recognise us by our love?, contains his Pastoral Plan for implementing the steps of New Evangelisation in the Bunbury Diocese.
"Members of Parliament, who comply with the party line [against the principles of natural justice], contribute to this corrupting injustice," he said. "The Nuremburg Trials rejected the idea that individuals can escape responsibility for their wrong actions under the pretext: 'I was following orders'."
His teaching on the responsibilities of politicians reflect last year's statements from the Vatican that Catholic politicians have a duty of loyalty to the Church and conscience before their political party.
He gave examples of proposed laws that would violate principles of natural justice, including that which would legalise marijuana and cause addiction to hard drugs and fragmentation within Aboriginal communities.
Bishop Holohan equated political and social action with the effort of evangelisation that is expected of Catholics. He urged the faithful to "join political parties, unions and other political and community organisations for the purpose of bringing a Gospel perspective to issues under debate."
His letter also contains a note of contrition for the Church's own failures, with its silence and inaction with regard to sex abuse.
The Pastoral letter is 34 page teaching resource that serves as the foundation for various parish and diocesan programmes over the coming year. It treats the first New Evangelisation step, the witness of Christian love, in five sections.
Aside from calling on churchgoing Catholics to become involved in resisting issues that conflict with God's laws in legislative proposals,
Bishop Holohan has urged he faithful to pray daily for 30 minutes for those who have given up religious practice.
Media Release: New evangelisation pastoral letter (Diocese of Bunbury 17/2/04)
Diocese of Bunbury
Do they recognise us by our love? Pastoral Letter from Bishop Gerard Holohan DD - Full version | Condensed Version
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19 Feb 2004