08 Vote for Leaders who listen to people - Cardinal Oswald Gracias

posted Apr 16, 2019, 8:57 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Apr 16, 2019, 8:58 AM ]
On the occasion of General Elections 2019, the Pastoral Letter issued by the CBCI is reproduced.

Our country is in election mode. The dates for the General Elections have been announced. From April 11 - May 15, 2019, the country will be going through the gigantic process of elections to choose our Members of Parliament. Hundreds of millions will go to vote in the largest democracy in the world; we are more than Europe and Australia put together! We are truly proud of our country — the generally peaceful election process getting better each time, as each Government tries to make improvements: a smooth transition of office from one Government to the other. India can truly be a model for other countries to imitate and adapt to their circumstances.

As Pastors of our people, we Bishops consider it is our duty to address you through this Pastoral Letter, so that joining hands with all people of good will, our community can effectively contribute to shaping the future of our nation.

At the outset, we wish to make it clear that the Catholic Church does not identify herself with (or side) any political party. This is the stated policy of the Catholic Church. Nevertheless, at this important moment, we feel called to give some general guidance to our people for the good of our country. Our country has made great progress because of science and technology. Infrastructure and public facilities have improved. At the same time, there are several areas of concern. The big gap between the rich and the poor seems to be widening. Many unorganised, informal, casual labourers are barely able to survive with what they earn. Farmers and those in the agricultural sector are under serious stress. Ethics is losing primacy as the guiding principle of society. India is a spiritual nation, and yet God is slowly being pushed to the periphery. It is in this context, and at this moment in history, that we are going into elections.

First of all, we remind ourselves of our duty to exercise our vote. Every citizen above 18 years has the right to vote, but this is also a sacred obligation we owe to our country. All our Parish Priests are urged to impress on our people this obligation. Every single vote does count. Hence, we owe it to ourselves, to our children and to our country to fulfil this sacred duty judiciously, and thus get involved in bettering the direction of our nation.

We are called not just to vote, but to vote judiciously, because the direction our country takes, its progress and much of our everyday lives depends largely on the leadership we elect to Parliament. The life of every citizen is affected by the Government, both at the Centre and in the State.

We see that Indian society is undergoing great transformation. Every government has contributed to the great progress that has been made over the years. India is gradually taking its rightful place in the comity of nations. There is indeed great hope for the future, and now is the time for us to get more involved in directing the destiny of our nation.

I urge every community to pray, and in prayer, to discern what is best for our country. The Catholic Church hopes that the General Elections will give us leaders who understand the anxieties of our people, their needs and respond effectively.