The next federal election, new webinars, Indigenous Reconciliation, and more
With summer in full bloom and the end of the pandemic in sight, the last thing many Canadians want to think about is a federal election. Recent research bears this out: Nanos Research, a major Canadian polling firm, found that only one out of four Canadians are interested in having a federal election this fall. That’s certainly understandable, given that this current federal government wouldn’t need to hold an election till October 2023 at the latest.
Nonetheless, many of you have been reading about the prospects of a federal election this summer or fall. While we can’t offer anything substantive to the speculation—and remember, it is all purely speculation—it is worth taking a moment to talk about how Catholic Conscience is preparing for the next federal election campaign.
One of our keystone programs is the Catholic Action campaign, a voter education and engagement initiative that we launch for federal and provincial elections. The aim of the campaign is to educate Catholic voters about Catholic social teaching and its application to contemporary political issues, and to inspire greater Catholic voter turnout during elections.
We’ve organized the Catholic Action campaign over a number of election cycles now, and every time we do it, we have new ideas or learn new things. We wanted to share with you a few features of the campaign you can expect whenever the next election comes around, as well as some new ideas:
Party platform comparisons: Where we’ll show side-by-side each of the party’s key policy proposals related to a range of issues, along with some insights into what Catholic social teaching has to say about these issues—all with the aim of inviting the reader to dig deeper and learn more.
Printed and digital vote pledge/prayer cards: A fun element of the campaign where, online and offline, we provide voter pledge/prayer cards with the dual purpose of offering a short prayer to help Catholics discern their votes and reminding them when election day is. Research suggests that materials like these helps improve voter turnout.
All-party conversations: In different Catholic Action campaigns, we have found different ways of bringing together political party representatives for direct conversations with Catholic voters. In the 2019 federal election, we worked with the Archdiocese of Toronto in supporting their federal election debate from a Catholic perspective. In the 2020 Saskatchewan provincial election, we organized online interviews with representatives from each of the parties to ask them questions from a Catholic perspective. Stay tuned for details about what will be organized for this coming federal election.
Election newsletter: You can watch out for special election editions of the Catholic Commons newsletter, including plenty of useful information about how and where to vote, what ID you need, and links to relevant resources for helping you discern your vote.
“How to vote” resources and workshops for new Canadian voters: Every year, thousands of new Catholic Canadians arrive in Canada from around the world. Research suggests that first-generation Canadians face some of the most difficult barriers to exercising their right to vote. In the next election, we are working to formulate resources and/or workshops specifically aimed at supporting those Catholics who have recently become Canadian citizens and will be voting for the first time.
A weekly rosary novena for the Canadian people: During the next election, and depending on its length, we intend to host a weekly, open-invitation rosary novena for the Canadian people as they discern their votes, collectively select our next federal government, and determine the future direction of our country. We look forward to bringing together Catholics from across the country for these virtual rosary prayers.
Catholic Action is one of our favourite programs, and no matter when the next federal election is, we look forward to engaging Catholic voters and inspiring them through Catholic social teaching! We believe well-formed Catholic voters can change our politics for the better, and Catholic Action is—pun intended—one way we put that belief into action.
If you’re interested in helping us out in the next Catholic Action campaign, or bringing the campaign to your parish or diocese, please send us an email! We always welcome passionate volunteers. We look forward to hearing from you.
Whenever the next election is, all Canadians will continue to be in our prayers as we approach the end of this pandemic and its still-mysterious aftermath—that all of us may recommit ourselves to the common good of all amid our current trials, and whatever trials may come. May we build the Kingdom of God together, through the guidance of the Holy Spirit!
Matthew Marquardt & Brendan Steven
ON WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 4, JOIN US FOR A CATHOLIC CIVICS WORKSHOP ON PROGRESS: ONE OF THE MOST INFLUENTIAL AND CONTESTED IDEAS OF OUR TIMES
The idea of progress is omnipresent in contemporary political discourse. It’s an idea used to describe and decry a wide array of policy ideas, movements, and visions for the future of our society. What is progress? Progress for who? And who or what is progressive? In this conversation with two leading thinkers on political theology and Catholic social teaching, we explore Catholic perspectives of progress—and how they apply to the many, competing secular conceptions of progress Catholic citizens encounter in today’s political and cultural life.
If you’re interested in political science, philosophy, and the ideas that define public life today, you won’t want to miss this conversation!
ANNOUNCING OUR NEW WEBINAR SERIES: THE BEAUTY OF CREATION
We’re excited to announce a new series of webinars we will be presenting and hosting between August 2021 and February 2022. Called The Beauty of Creation, our series will explore the glory and majesty of God’s created world, as revealed through science, natural philosophy, and our Catholic faith. The series will touch on a wide array of topics for those interested in creation issues—like human uniqueness, Green Thomism, ecological conversation, health and well-being, and more. We are so excited that these conversations will be led by some of North America’s most impressive Catholic scientists and philosophers, sharing years of experience and insight from the intersection of their scientific disciplines and our Catholic faith.
Stay tuned to this newsletter to RSVP for each individual webinar. You can RSVP now for our panel discussion introducing the series by clicking below.
Works of Mercy In Our Community
CATHOLICS FOR TRUTH AND RECONCILIATION: VISIT THE WEBSITE TO DONATE OR PLEDGE YOUR COMMITMENT
When the news reported the discovery of unmarked graves on the sites of former residential schools operated by Catholic institutions, many Catholics were shocked, disturbed, and energized into action. A Facebook group formed called “Catholics for Truth and Reconciliation”, to galvanize conversation and action about how lay Catholics and Catholic institutions could make a deeper contribution to reconciliation and justice for Canada’s Indigenous communities.
That group has now launched a website, www.catholics4tr.com, where Catholics interested in taking action can donate to three, national Indigenous-led organizations working in different areas of Reconciliation, or can donate to various fundraising appeals launched by Canada’s bishops.
The group writes to fellow Catholics:
The recovery of graves associated with the dark legacy of Canada’s residential schools has shaken the whole country. As Catholics, we know that upholding the dignity of the human person, created in the image and likeness of God, is central to our faith. We acknowledge that this central tenet of the faith was violated by those involved in the Residential School system and in the wider abuses that Indigenous peoples have suffered through colonization.
Catholics have inherited this legacy of participation in the evils of Residential Schools and the suffering and destruction of Indigenous peoples and their spirituality, culture, and language. Catholics for Truth and Reconciliation recognize that we are called to engage in the Truth and Reconciliation process and work towards healing.
This website is an invitation for Catholics to ignite or deepen our commitment to Truth and Reconciliation alongside Indigenous peoples through donations and action pledges. We hope you will join in this important work.
WATCH JUNE’S CATHOLIC CIVICS WORKSHOP ON USING MONEY LIKE A CATHOLIC
In June, we had the pleasure of hosting two thoughtful Catholic experts—Paul Perrone, a Catholic Chartered Financial Analyst, and Michael Ryall, Professor of Strategic Management at Rotman School of Management—for an insightful conversation on how Catholics are called to use money in their personal and professional lives. This was one of our best-attended webinars yet, and we’re grateful to our guests for bringing their extraordinary professional insights to the discussion.
We’re also grateful to the Catholic Register, which published an article about the workshop:
Evidently, the decision of what to do with money is becoming more convoluted for young Canadians. For any still overwhelmed by the possibilities, Perrone gives a piece of simple advice.
“Whether we’re saving, investing — the test that I use is: Is my heart getting bigger, or is my heart getting smaller?”
If you missed the workshop, we’re happy to share the recording. Click below to watch the full webinar now.
Serving Your Community
DIOCESES LAUNCH NEW APPEALS FOR RECONCILIATION AND RESIDENTIAL SCHOOL SURVIVORS
Amid the horrifying news of the discovery of unmarked graves on the sites of former residential schools, Canadian Catholics across the country have sought new ways of contributing to the cause of reconciliation with our Indigenous communities and supporting our Indigenous brothers and sisters, most especially those whose families were affected by residential school experiences.
Catholic Conscience is proud that some of the dioceses we have worked most closely with these past years—namely, our friends in the dioceses of Saskatchewan and the Archdiocese of Toronto—are leading the way in launching new initiatives so Catholics can continue making positive contributions to the work of Reconciliation.
For those who live in Saskatchewan or in Toronto, we highly encourage you to participate in and make a generous contribution to these local Reconciliation initiatives led by our bishops.
On July 13, 2021, the Bishops of Saskatchewan announced a new province-wide Appeal for Support of Healing and Reconciliation – sponsored by the dioceses and eparchy in Saskatchewan. The overall goal of this campaign is to support Indian Residential School survivors and their communities, and to engage more deeply in an ongoing commitment and response to the Truth and Reconciliation process.
The Archdiocese of Toronto is currently establishing working groups, each enriched by Indigenous voices, to help guide and support their efforts. To that end, the archdiocese has identified the following priorities:
- Education – initiatives to educate clergy, staff and the faithful regarding the tragic legacy of residential schools and its continuing impact on Indigenous people, and to develop a greater understanding and appreciation of Indigenous spirituality.
- Outreach and Spiritual Support – initiatives to support survivors of residential schools and those suffering intergenerational trauma. These may include healing circles, personal or group counselling, workshops, speakers, listening sessions, opportunities for prayer, reconciliation services, and other spiritual supports.
- Financial Support – the Archdiocese of Toronto is developing a financial campaign to support ongoing healing and reconciliation efforts. A diverse working group will assist in formulating the campaign framework and related details in the weeks ahead. In response to those who have expressed a desire to contribute immediately, the Healing & Reconciliation fund has been established. Donations can be made online, by phone (416) 934-3411 or through any Catholic church in the Archdiocese of Toronto.
From The Holy Father
THE JOURNEY OF DIALOGUE ACCORDING TO POPE FRANCIS
Pope Francis’ prayer intentions for the month of July are dialogue and social friendship. The Pope writes, “I would like to invite everyone to go beyond their groups of friends and build social friendship, which is so necessary for living together well. We especially need to have a renewed encounter with the most impoverished and vulnerable, those on the peripheries. And we need to distance ourselves from populisms that exploit the anguish of the people without providing solutions, proposing a mystique that solves nothing. We must flee from social enmity which only destroys, and leave “polarization” behind. And this isn’t always easy, especially today when part of our politics, society and media are bent on creating enemies so as to defeat them in a game of power. Dialogue is the path to seeing reality in a new way, so we can live with passion the challenges we face in constructing the common good.”
The theme of dialogue in society has been at the core of this pontificate and is a central topic in both Evangelii gaudium and Fratelli tutti, two of Pope Francis’ encyclicals. We greatly enjoyed reading this detailed analysis of Pope Francis’ idea of dialogue from the website Where Peter Is:
Key to understanding Pope Francis’s idea of dialogue is that it does not involve a mere exchange of opinions or voicing of concerns. It is rather a process—a journey that is meant to proceed slowly and serenely. It may not produce immediate results, but can bear fruit over time, making new things possible. At the same time, it is not something that can or should occur only among friends and during placid times. Instead, it is when progress seems impossible that dialogue is most needed. It is not mere “talk” to distract from the grave issues at hand, but the most direct and daring approach we can take when trapped in a painful rhetorical stalemate.
What We’re Watching
GLOBE & MAIL OP-ED: Taxing today’s religious institutions because of residential-school horrors would be missing the point
In the wake of the discovery of unmarked grave sites at former residential schools, some voices have once again raised the possibility of taxing religious institutions. In response to critics of churches’ tax-exempt status, we greatly enjoyed reading this op-ed by Brian Dijkema—vice-president of external affairs at the Canadian Christian think tank Cardus—reminding Canadians why religious institutions are afforded this unique privilege.
For every dollar in a religious congregation’s budget, the wider community receives a benefit worth an estimated $4.77. That benefit comes in many forms, including soup kitchens, housing programs, substance abuse counselling and refugee resettlement. Add in economic spinoffs, and all that activity is worth an estimated $35-billion per year to Canada.
The exemption of houses of worship from property taxes, then, recognizes that these organizations are unique engines that multiply good in the wider community, beyond those physical walls…
Recent news about residential schools should force us to reckon with injustices. But taxing churches isn’t the place to start. Rather, we should point out that such injustices are at odds with professed beliefs, and remind religious communities to renew their efforts at reconciliation and loving their neighbours.”
THE POPE’S JULY PRAYER INTENTIONS: FOR DIALOGUE AND SOCIAL FRIENDSHIP
Every month, Pope Francis shares his prayer intentions – for us, an opportunity to unite our prayers with the Holy Father and the faithful around the world. This month, Pope Francis invites us to pray that, in social, economic and political situations of conflict, we may be courageous and passionate architects of dialogue and friendship. Below is the Pope’s message and prayer for this intention:
The Bible says that whoever finds a friend has found a treasure.
I would like to invite everyone to go beyond their groups of friends and build social friendship, which is so necessary for living together well.
We especially need to have a renewed encounter with the most impoverished and vulnerable, those on the peripheries. And we need to distance ourselves from populisms that exploit the anguish of the people without providing solutions, proposing a mystique that solves nothing.
We must flee from social enmity which only destroys, and leave “polarization” behind.
And this isn’t always easy, especially today when part of our politics, society and media are bent on creating enemies so as to defeat them in a game of power.
Dialogue is the path to seeing reality in a new way, so we can live with passion the challenges we face in constructing the common good.
Let us pray that, in social, economic, and political situations of conflict, we may be courageous and passionate architects of dialogue and friendship, men and women who always hold out a helping hand, and may no spaces of enmity and war remain.