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Western Sydney bishop tells voters to choose carefully

Bishop Kevin Manning of the Parramatta Diocese has written a pastoral letter saying that while he's not telling anybody how to vote in the 9 October Federal Election, Catholics should "think about issues of public morality" when making their decision.

"Catholic teaching holds that governments exist to serve people by legislating for the common good," he said. "We need governments to make laws to provide a framework for social and economic relations, which will ensure that human rights are respected, protected, and promoted."

Bishop Manning said that voters should ask themselves "which candidate or party will best serve the needs of the poor", given that "Jesus was always especially concerned about the poorest and most-marginalised people".

He also spelled out the need to choose based upon an evaluation of the role of particular political parties in Australia's involvement in the war in Iraq.

"The lack of a moral basis for going to war, coupled with the immoral activity involved in the conduct of the war, needs to be justified by the Government," he said. "We need an explanation because our Government is acting in our name. We also need to hear from any party that seeks government what they propose we do now."

Bishop Manning asked why the process of reconciliation between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians has stalled. He challenged voters to work out which candidates or parties have the best strategies to take the reconciliation agenda forward.

He also touched on the poor access of many fmilies to "some of the most basic human rights", including adequate health care, and decent, affordable housing and education.

Your vote is important (Catholic Outlook September 2004)

Jesuit Centre researcher to monitor leaders on election trail (CathNews 32/8/04)
Poverty emerging as major election issue (CathNews 30/8/04)
Catholic Health says Medicare investment key election issue (CathNews 30/8/04)

6 Sep 2004