Readers of SCE will recall that some weeks ago I sent a questionaire based on the Bishops’ statement “Your Vote Your Values” to my local candidates.
Well, in the end I only got to send it to the three major lower house candidates – our Labor member, James Merlino, the Liberal candidate, Matt Mills, and the Greens Candidate, Jo Tenner. Of the three, I received a request from Matt to send him the questions in electronic format, but didn’t hear back from him after that. James didn’t reply at all. But I did get a reply from Jo, which was in the form of a preprepared statement from the Greens in answer to the original Bishops’ statement “Your Vote Your Values”. It is a fairly straightforward answer to all the questions asked. Jo said that she believed this document had been sent to the bishops. I don’t know if it has had any wider circulation. So for your enjoyment and instruction, I have posted it on the media sharing site Media Fire, and you can download it in PDF form from here.
I replied to Jo that I was especially concerned about the Greens advocating Euthanasia, and for this reason could not support their platform. Her response was polite and very interesting. I am sure she won’t mind if I share it with you (a bit of “free press” at the last minute), and it is certainly topical to the current debate:
I appreciate the position that you come from, having been raised a catholic, attending catholic schools for all my primary and most of my secondary education and having a devout Mother with whom I discuss all these issues. I chose not to continue to be a catholic on the basis of insurmountable moral issues. One of which is topical at the moment with the Pope recognising that there is a role for condoms in the prevention of the spread of diseases like AIDS. It tears at my heart to think of all the people, including millions of children who have suffered due to the power of the catholic church and its prohibition on any contraception devices. This is something I understand all too well from my work in the overseas aid sector. I wish that I could have remained a catholic, it would have been wonderful to have the a heritage that would resonate with my everyday life. Unfortunately for this and many other reasons, it was not to be the case. I do, nevertheless, credit some of my catholic upbringing with my passion for justice and concern for the welfare of others.
I would like to think that people such as ourselves, thinking and caring people, can find ways to reach beyond the stereotypes promulgated by the media, to discuss our viewpoints and see if we can find ways to reach common ground. I would be interested in doing this beyond the timeframe of the election and if you are interested, I would be happy to meet sometime.
I have accepted her rather gracious invitation to meet in the near future, even if she is not elected. It tears my heart (to use her phrase) that our Catholic community has been unable to use its vast resources (especially in our schools, but also in our parishes) to properly communicate our concerns. Despite being raised in the heart of the Catholic community, Jo, like many others, has had to rely on the dissemination of Church teaching via the mass media. That is a fact that we have to live with, I guess, but I would value the chance to be a personal witness for the Church’s position.
In any case, I have assured her of my prayers for her and for all candidates, and wished her well for tomorrow, even though I cannot wish her or her party “success”.