Addis Ababa (Fides Service)- Freedom of conscience, respect for life, freedom of religion and respect for human rights were among the ethical values underlined by the Catholic Bishops of Ethiopia in a message in view of third presidential elections on 15 May.
“Jesus Christ entrusted to the Church a mission of bringing Good News to humankind. But the human beings living in this world are not only spiritual and their concerns include economic and social aspects that cannot be separated from their spiritual nature… Waiting for Christ's final return can never be an excuse for lack of concern of people in their concrete personal situations and in their social, national and international life since these” the Bishops write.
“The Church is not to be identified with any political party or system” the Bishops recall. “However, the Church is also concerned with the common good and cannot remain silent and disinterested in such an important moment. The Church wants to encourage all its faithful as well as all men and women of goodwill to fulfil their civic responsibility in the coming election”.
“The Catholic Church values the democratic system in as much as it ensures the participation of citizens in making political choices, guarantees to the governed the possibility of both electing and holding accountable those who govern them and of replacing them through peaceful means when appropriate (Cf. Pope John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Centesimus Annus, 46)” the Bishops write, reminding the faithful of “some criteria and ethical values of freedom of conscience, respect for human life, freedom of religion and freedom of human rights. To this we like to stress that the citizen should have in mind in his/her personal choice is the common good of the nation before any other motivation.”.
“Therefore ”, the Bishops write, “to abstain oneself from voting is not to fulfil one's responsibility as citizen.. Some might be tempted to adopt such an attitude of political indifference and apathy because they are sceptical about the utility of their individual vote. But if one vote can contribute little for a real progress of the country, abstention contributes still less and if this abstention is somehow generalised, the consequences may seriously affect the final result”.
Warning against bribery and fraud and stating that “freedom of conscience is sacred and nobody should attempt to violate the freedom of another person either through money or threats” the Bishops end their message encouraging the faithful to exercise their “political duty with a right conscience having in mind first the common good and unity of our country rather than being moved by particular personal interests. Pray to God that He may bless our nation and keep it in unity, justice and peace”. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 28/4/2005 righe 37 parole 438)