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September 14, 2015

It may be, as Regina political scientist Ann Ward states (Page 5), that Church influence over the decisions their members make at the ballot box is declining. In one respect, this is a good thing. Direct Church entanglement in politics, with pastors telling parishioners how to cast their ballot, is rarely beneficial for either the Church or democracy.

Yet, one of the Church's main tasks is to form the values of its adherents and of society itself. The Church would be remiss if it did not speak out for human dignity, including the rights to life, adequate housing, food and water, and a decent standard of living.

It also has a duty to defend religious liberty, not only for its own members, but for those of all faiths. Each person also has a right to live in peace, a right which challenges warmakers and arms dealers everywhere.

Protection of the natural environment, of God's creation, is an issue whose importance has grown rapidly. Health care, education and openness to immigrants and refugees are also central to the Church's mission of mercy.

So when the Church draws attention to these and other concerns, it is not "meddling" in politics, but calling for respect for these values.

The running of the economy is surely important. However, it ought not to be our only concern. A society should be judged on how it treats the least of its brothers and sisters.

Church leaders perform a valuable function when they say society is not a balance sheet, but a community of persons created in God's image. Christian involvement in the electoral process witnesses to that truth.