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April 18, 2011

It apparently is not a matter of great concern to Canada's political leaders that advance polling for the May 2 election will be conducted on Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter Monday. A Christian nation would surely find a way to avoid having the electoral process trampling on the most holy season of the year.

Christians are perhaps more accepting of this situation than we would have been a few decades ago. After all, just about any religious holiday has been open season for shoppers for some time. Nevertheless, the lack of government consideration for the Paschal season is about as clear a symbol as you will find that today's so-called separation of Church and state is in fact a dominance of the state over the Church. One simply cannot imagine such a scenario occurring in a nation that recognizes God as God and humanity as God's creation.

There is nevertheless no small irony in this taking place at the time we commemorate Jesus being denounced before Pilate as a dangerous revolutionary, only for him to respond, "My kingdom is not from this world" (John 18.36).

As Pope Benedict says in the new second volume of Jesus of Nazareth, Jesus' kingship is no threat to the Roman order. Jesus' kingship is a witness to truth and "The world is 'true' to the extent that it reflects God. . . . 'Bearing witness to truth' means giving priority to God and to his will over against the interests of the world and its powers" (192-93).

There is an increasing blindness today to the matter of truth, the pope says. Truth is relegated to the subjective sphere in contrast to what really matters - building a supposedly free and just society through pragmatic calculations about the use of power.

Sadly, freedom and justice are the first casualties when respect for objective moral truth is lost. This is apparent in the prime minister's "assurance" that, should his party form a majority government, it will not move to protect the lives of the unborn. The truth about the human person counts for nothing when the winning of power is at stake.

It needs to be added that there was not even a need to ask the question of the other party leaders so committed are they to the ongoing demolition of the right to life of unborn children.

"Can politics accept truth as a structural category?" the pope pointedly asks. In Canada, the answer is a clear and unequivocal "no."

Many Canadians will vote on Good Friday and Holy Saturday. For some, it will be a necessity if they are to vote at all.

But Christians must be saddened when not even the holiest days can be set aside for God and the prerogatives of the state trump even our most precious moments of religiosity.