Dear Brothers and Sisters,

On the 7th May 2014, we will once again have the opportunity to exercise our democratic right at the polls.

As we approach the elections, politicians call for our support through the use of the TV, radio and other media. It is important that we listen carefully and make up our minds as to how best to vote.

Trying to discern the call of the Holy Spirit in the midst of all this human activity is something which the Prophet Jeremiah encouraged the people of Israel when he addressed them, saying:

“For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jer. 29:11)

In this spirit of faith, we are invited to hear Pope Francis when he writes in his recent Apostolic exhortation, ‘The Joy of the Gospel’, that “Responsible citizenship is a virtue and participation in political life is a moral obligation.” (The Joy of the Gospel, par. 220)

Virtue is a habitual way of acting when we are led by the Holy Spirit. And so Pope Francis encourages us to get involved in whatever way possible because, as he writes, “Politics [is] a lofty vocation and one of the highest forms of charity, in as much as it seeks the common good.” (The Joy of the Gospel, par. 205)

We therefore urge all Catholics to make every effort to vote as ‘responsible citizens’; and thoughtfully and prayerfully to participate in the responsible governing of our country. You will do this by voting and supporting those parties and organisations which work for the good of all our citizens.

Vote for political parties whose policies truly serve all our people especially the poor and vulnerable. We must reject any sign of greed, ethnicity, corruption and self-enrichment.

In the light of what our Christian faith teaches us we propose the following criteria to help us to discern how to vote and with which political agency to align ourselves.

Our participation in political life requires that we promote:

  • The sacredness of human life and the dignity of each human being
  • Support for marriage and family
  • Social responsibility and respect for the common good
  • The just sharing of resources and wealth
  • Compassionate solidarity with the poor and marginalised

 Dear Brothers and Sisters there can be no better way of celebrating the freedoms which we enjoy than by participating fully in our country’s elections and participating in the shaping of our country. Let us pray and work earnestly at this moment for a peaceful, free and fair general election.

We ask that the following prayer be prayed every day and at the celebration of the Mass from now until the election results are announced:

Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy.

O, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love; For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; it is in dying that we are born again to eternal life.


Lord we pray that the forthcoming election may bring about a deepening of our democracy and that we will carry out our duties as citizens responsibly and with respect for the rights of others. May the choices we make bring hope to the poor, unity to all our people and a more secure and peaceful future for our children. Amen

Your servants in Christ

The Bishops of Southern Africa.