08/12/2015, 00.00
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Church’s social doctrine to guide Christian voters in the country’s upcoming elections

by Melani Manel Perera
Fr Reid Shelton Fernando calls on the faithful to vote well next Monday. Prayers but also the Holy Scriptures and Church documents should help pick the right candidates.

Colombo (AsiaNews) – Fr Reid Shelton Fernando wants Sri Lankans to go back to the Church’s social doctrine to inform their action in the country’s social and political life.

The priest, who is also a theologian and human rights activist, made the plea through AsiaNews ahead of next Monday’s parliamentary election.

Compared to the past, this election is a lot quieter. However, religious and civil society leaders have called on voters to pick honest people given the presence of some questionable candidates.

For Fr Fernando, praying is the first tool Christians have to discern who deserves to get in parliament, or become prime minister.

Another tool is to follow Card Joseph-Léon Cardjin, founder of the Young Christian Workers movement, who proposed a process of critical judgement based on ‘see, judge, act’, further developed by John XXIII in his encyclical Mater et Magistra.

Fr Fernando’s focus is on the second aspect of the process, that of ‘judging’. In his view, the best way of achieving this is “to seek God’s will through His Word in the Holy Scriptures and Church documents."

In view of this, the Blessed Paul VI’s apostolic letter Octogesima Adveniens is particularly relevant when it says, “In the face of such widely varying situations it is difficult for us to utter a unified message and to put forward a solution which has universal validity. Such is not our ambition, nor is it our mission. It is up to the Christian communities to analyse with objectivity the situation which is proper to their own country, to shed on it the light of the Gospel's unalterable words and to draw principles of reflection, norms of judgment and directives for action from the social teaching of the Church.”

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