CNMI ELECTION 2018: Forming Faithful Voters

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As the Diocese of Chalan Kanoa moves forward with its five-year Diocesan Pastoral Plan, the plan’s priority ministries — evangelization and faith formation, liturgy, social justice and outreach, marriage and family life, vocation, and youth — are now putting into action the goals they have set forth.

Many of these ministries are quite familiar to parishioners as they are more “direct” and “visible” in terms of the sacraments and regular activities that occur within the parish community.  However, our diocese also considers the various social issues and concerns that affect the day to day lives of parishioners very important components of our faith.  Thus, the diocesan Social Justice Commission has been established to assist parishioners to reflect on our social issues through the lens of faith and the teachings of the Church.

This commission aims at “communicating the message of truth and hope on current social issues.”

The Commission on Social Justice and Outreach was established on April 1, 2018. It seeks and will work to: first, educate and inform people about social justice, particularly on matters that have a direct impact in their lives, and the community, in general.  Second, teach people about social values based on the teachings of Christ in the sacred traditions and the Holy Scripture. And third, help people discern and apply in their daily lives the messages and teachings of Christ in relation to the issues and realities that we face in the society today.

Why this ministry and why is it a priority? The Diocesan Pastoral Plan states that,  “As Catholics, we are part of a community with a rich heritage that helps us consider the challenges in public life and contribute to greater justice and peace for all people. Our Bishops at Vatican II say that “society itself may enjoy the benefits of justice and peace, which result from [people’s] faithfulness to God and his holy will” (no. 6). The work for justice requires that the mind and the heart of Catholics be educated and formed to know and practice the whole faith.”

Responding to the demands of justice in our diocese from a faith perspective requires both words and actions. We need to look both within (our own church structures) and beyond (the larger community) to identify those areas that are broken and in need of healing.  Current social challenges in our community include gambling, immigration, dependency/ substance abuse, and health Issues, to name a few. The diocese will speak out on these issues from the perspective of faith and Church teachings and reach out with practical charity.

With this, the Commission on Social Justice and Outreach takes on its role as:

A  “Voice” to create awareness and promote understanding on relevant issues that affect the quality of life, not from blind assessment or pre-conceived judgment, but founded on love and respect based on the core teachings of the Church, and brings,

Action.” To take concrete measures, within the context of our faith, that would address the needs of our community and protect the well-being of the people.

We hope to address real, pressing issues with direct implications with sound, tangible responses. Print and social media are the main strategies that will be employed to put them in effect.

There are many challenges that the community and the government, both local and national, are facing these days. Taking the appropriate steps and making the right move is crucial. By providing relevant information and conducting outreach that will uphold the common good, this ministry will serve as the voice and action of the church on matters with social impact, specifically those that happen and unfold in our diocese. And since local elections will take place in a few months, the commission will initiate a series of formation articles that aim to help inform voters. These articles will be published in the North Star (the weekly diocesan publication) and will assist parishioners in framing questions to get to know their candidates and learn about their views on social justice issues and concerns that affect them. As the election nears, the commission will also share a “Prayer Before Election” which will be read during the Eucharistic celebration before the polling booths open. As the church teaches about faith, forming faithful voters is a commitment that the commission undertakes since its outcome will also shape the island and the community in the next few years.

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