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ZAGREB, November 12, 2003 - The Croatian Conference of Catholic Bishops has released a letter on elections to all people of good will which stated that prior to any political considerations, political candidates or parties which are anti-life and anti-family are disqualified from a Christian standpoint. "As Catholic bishops, we must also remind you that a believer does not vote for a party and individuals who act on the behalf of the legalization of abortion, euthanasia and unnatural same-sex marriages," said the letter.

Beyond those 'criteria' the bishops stressed the need for a 'war on drugs' and proposed five 'priorities' to support in the current election, the first two of which are: a) the spiritual and moral renewal of our society and nation, elimination of the consequences of the totalitarian system and the war imposed upon us, concern for the poor and helpless; b) the war against demographic extinction, providing greater and more systematic assistance to married couples and families, promoting the complete upbringing and education of children and young people.

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Message from the Croatian Bishops on the Elections Hvar, October 29, 2003

Dear Faithful and All People of Good Will,

1. We are writing to you on the occasion of the forthcoming parliamentary elections to be held in our homeland on November 23, 2003. A specific quality of these elections, among others, is that they are being held only a few months following the third pastoral visit by the Holy Father to our Church and homeland. For all of us, this visit is still a vivid memory. The Pope summoned to mind many values upon which it is necessary to build our common future. Participating in large numbers at all the encounters with the Holy Father, many of the faithful and citizens exhibited a high degree of sensitivity to these values as well as all that he represents and embodies in his person. At the same time, despite numerous difficulties and problems that we are encountering, he urged and encouraged us to be a nation of hope. During these elections, we should affirm our civil responsibility and seriousness.

2. Summons to the Elections. Participation in political life and contribution to the general good are the fundamental rights and duties of every citizen. One of the basic means of exercising these rights and duties is participating in elections, which is a requirement of the love of the homeland that realistically and courageously confronts the challenge of the historical moment. Whoever does not fulfill this duty, irresponsibly allows others to make decisions without him on questions that concern him and the future of his children. Therefore, brothers and sisters, we urge you to participate in the elections with great moral and social awareness and responsibility. Thus, you will make your effective contribution to the continued development of our Croatian homeland.

3. Whom to Choose. Three thousand years ago, Moses' father-in-law counseled: "You should look among all the people for able, God-fearing and trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain, and set them as officers over the people" (Ex 18, 21). This ancient wise advice expresses the aspiration deeply rooted in human nature to entrust the care of the general good to the best people. These are certainly such people who in the exercise of public authority, among other things, follow the rules of the old Dubrovnik citizens, as quoted by the Holy Father: "Forget private advantage and work for the common good." Indeed, we know that in the circumstances and instabilities of this life we never can achieve the best to which we constantly aspire without effort. Experience confirms for us that this also applies to the political arena. Nonetheless, no one can justify failure to vote in the elections and a lack of ! interest in public life. Elections are a tested way of improving the quality of political life and advancing the common good. Therefore, it is necessary to vote!

4. Criteria for the Evaluation of Individuals and Parties. We are of the opinion, brothers and sisters, that it is our pastoral duty to make you aware of some fundamental principles that ensue from the social doctrine of the Church and are based upon the Gospel. It is necessary to bear them in mind when voting for individuals and parties with their programs. This is a matter of social justice, solidarity and love in the service of protecting and promoting the dignity of the human being, his basic rights and values. This means that the programs of individuals and parties should be assessed according to whether they promote justice for all, especially the most vulnerable, and whether they build a community of citizens in solidarity who will understand the values of tolerance, community, forgiveness and reconciliation.

Under our current circumstances, criteria are important for the assessment of a positive attitude, which does not mean uncritical, toward our national past and heritage, safeguarding the rights and dignity of the Croatian nation in the framework of world politics, and gratitude toward those who made the greatest sacrifices for our freedom. An imperative criterion is the uncompromising and consistent war on drugs, that are increasingly destroying our youth and thereby our future. As Catholic bishops, we must also remind you that a believer does not vote for a party and individuals who act on the behalf of the legalization of abortion, euthanasia and unnatural same-sex marriages. Accepting the cited criteria and values, we provide every human being with security and help in his growth toward human and Christian maturity, from conception to natural death, and we give our society a guarantee of stable social relations.

5. Current Priorities. Bearing in mind the current state of our society and nation, we Croatian bishops emphasize the following priorities, which you, brothers and sisters, should support in these elections: a) the spiritual and moral renewal of our society and nation, elimination of the consequences of the totalitarian system and the war imposed upon us, concern for the poor and helpless; b) the war against demographic extinction, providing greater and more systematic assistance to married couples and families, promoting the complete upbringing and education of children and young people; c) stimulating agriculture, maritime affairs and the uniform development of all the regions of our homeland, environmental protection and conservation of national wealth; d) the strengthening of democratic and legal movements, linking of Croats in Croatia and other countries, cultivation of the national identity and culture during a time of general globalization; e) preparation of the country for entry into the European Union and other world integration. The prerequisite for all of this, of course, is the strengthening of the national economy, science and technology.

For achieving all these priorities, sacrifices and a sense of solidarity are needed as well as a developed feeling for that which truly at this moment is in our common good. Neglecting these goals will further increase the national and social problems. We are convinced, brothers and sisters, that you, choosing those who support the cited priorities, will chose a more secure path to the future.

6. The Dignity of the Political Calling. Politics is concern for the general good and as such represents an honorable and essential service to the community. In this sense, all of us, especially those engaged in politics, must strive to restore dignity and honor to politics and politicians. This particularly applies to the time of the pre-electoral campaign when there is increased temptation to engage in unsuitable and incorrect behavior toward political opponents. Therefore, we urge those who participate in the primary electoral races to confine themselves to the contents and programs, and avoid personal insults, untruths and slander. Similarly, respect and responsibility toward the voters demand of politicians and political parties that they do not make promises that they know they cannot keep, due to objective or subjective circumstances, as well as not entering into political compromises that are against the will of those who elected them. From experience, we know that an easily given promise and lack of respect for the electoral body harms the reputation and dignity of politics and politicians, and creates bitterness and a sense of betrayal among voters.

On this occasion, we also want to encourage all those who have the abilities and gifts, especially the young, to devote themselves to political life courageously and honorably, aware that this is one of the most valuable ways of serving their nation. Accordingly, we urge political parties to give an opportunity to young people in their ranks.

The measure of those who are engaged in politics and their sincere love of the homeland are evident in a particular manner after elections: in the fulfillment of the promises made by those who won and the honorable acceptance of defeat by those who lost. Is it necessary to point out specifically that serving the homeland and one another is a common obligation and that the general good is always above private and party interests?

7. We urge all those in the Church who hold responsible positions not to use church premises and their offices for the purposes of individual political parties. And you, dear faithful, we urge you in these pre-election days to pray especially for the unity and advancement of our homeland, commending it to the intercession of her whom we for centuries have called the Queen and Advocate of the Croats.

Contact

Croatian Conference of Catholic Bishops
http://www.pope.hr/katolicka_crkva_u_hrvatskoj_hbk.html , HR
Croatian Conference of Catholic Bishops - , 661 869-1000

Email

info@yourcatholicvoice.org

Keywords

Croatian, Bishops, Elections, Politics

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