Australians are again going to the polls. We do so, thankful that the electoral process will be free of the violence found elsewhere. Our political system may have its problems but we have a stable democracy, which is not to be taken for granted.
During the long election campaign there will be much talk about the economy and the need for good economic management at a time of some uncertainty. Both sides of politics will state their economic credentials in a bid to win power.
The economy of course is important and there does need to be sound management. But there is also a danger that the economy can become a kind of false god to which even human beings have to be sacrificed.
This leads to what the Pope has called the throwaway culture - a culture of over-consumption where all kinds of things are thrown away, wasted, even human beings. The voices of the thrown-away people will not be heard in the campaign. Their faces will not be seen in all the advertising.
Among the people discarded in this throwaway culture are:
- Refugees and asylum seekers who are often seen as a problem to be solved rather than as human beings in need of help.
- Indigenous peoples whose cry for recognition has barely been heard and who suffer injustice at the hands of our justice system.
- The survivors of sexual abuse who have emerged from the shadows and whose voice is now being heard, crying out for redress and healing.
- Those who suffer family violence who are often unseen and unheard.
- Those in the womb who are among the most defenceless.
- Those suffering mental illness who seem not to fit in with accepted patterns of social behaviour and are often presumed to contribute nothing to society.
- Those suffering addiction who can see no way out of the destructive grasp of alcohol or other drugs, gambling or pornography.The desperately poor beyond our shores who look to wealthy Australia for the help they need - often simply to survive - but find our nation less and less generous.
Neither can we as Christians afford to be voiceless through this campaign. On all kinds of issues we need to make our voices heard.
We hope that this campaign will be a time not of spin and bombast but a time of wise and true speaking that comes from deep and humble listening. Then our vote may be a vote in favour of a community where no-one is thrown away, where all the voices are heard and all the faces seen.
You can read the full statement at www.catholic.org.au.