OTTAWA, JAN. 9, 2006 (Zenit.org).- A leading Catholic organization is exhorting the faithful to seriously consider the problems facing Canada when they go to the polls Jan. 23.
Among the top concerns cited by the Catholic Organization for Life and Family (COLF) are the attacks on human life, marriage and religious liberty.
In an open letter to Catholics, COLF cautions: "At this time in the history of Canada, a realistic look at society reveals a fundamental problem -- the loss of respect for human life and dignity.
"This is evident in so many ways: the legal void that permits abortion right up to birth; medical research that authorizes the destruction of embryos; a mentality that increasingly favors euthanasia and assisted suicide; the gratuitous violence in our schoolyards; abuse of women and children; the violent deaths of young men; the silence that surrounds so many situations of poverty; the widespread incidence of prostitution, pornography and drugs."
"Human life and human dignity encounter too many obstacles in Canada," said COLF. "As we prepare to elect a new government, we must determine the position of candidates on the first of all human rights: the right to life. If this is not respected, should we be surprised that other rights will sooner or later be threatened?"
COLF is a nonprofit corporation co-sponsored by the bishops' conference and the Supreme Council of the Knights of Columbus.
In its letter released last week, COLF also said: "The family is also under attack. The recent redefinition of marriage in our country contradicts the reality inscribed in nature.
"It is also urgent to ensure that our schools respect these convictions by not proposing a conflicting vision to our children. It is our responsibility to demand that the next government develop policies to support married couples who are ensuring the survival of society by giving birth to new citizens and raising them in the most stable environment."
"Many Canadian families live below the poverty line," the letter continued. "In a spirit of justice, it is up to us to work towards a better distribution of resources and equitable access to essential goods so that all will be assured of a decent quality of life."
COLF also sounded an alarm on what it sees as attacks on religious liberty and freedom of expression.
"We are witnessing an obvious effort by some in society who wish to relegate religion to the private lives of citizens," the group said. "This aggressive secular ideology refuses religion the right to exist in the public square. …
"As Catholic citizens, we not only have the moral duty to exercise our civic and political responsibilities, but also the right to be involved in the life of society, each according to his or her own area of expertise, and without denying the Gospel values that are central to our lives. We are not obliged to suppress our moral conscience in order to live in society. There should be no separation -- but instead coherence -- between our faith and our daily choices, made evident in our personal, family, professional, political and cultural decisions."
COLF invites voters to examine critically the platform of each party, and to evaluate those platforms "in the light of the plan of God by studying the social doctrine of the Church."
The letter concluded: "The question for the Catholic voter is: How, in the light of the Gospel, can I use my vote to advance the common good in Canada and throughout the world?"