Roman Catholic

Archdiocese of Kingston




Message on Emancipation Day 2007











August 1, 2007

Dearly Beloved in Christ: Peace be with you!

I write to you on Emancipation Day 2007 as we prepare for general elections. To achieve the full fruits of emancipation, we have to choose well those who will represent us in Parliament.

To exercise our right to vote is the moral obligation of a responsible citizen. This is an opportunity for us to choose leaders who will promote the common good of our nation, and who will ensure the necessary social conditions that allow all persons to reach their full human potential and to realize their human dignity. 

I wish to acknowledge with gratitude the Electoral Commission, the law enforcement officers as well as the various agencies and individuals who are working to ensure free and fair elections.

We must also acknowledge the progress we have made since our Independence 45 years ago. Jamaica can be proud of many achievements. Many initiatives have been taken to serve our people especially the poor, to transform education, to provide more jobs, better housing and health care, and to make our nation more secure, to name a few. Our young nation has a lot to be thankful for and to celebrate.

But Jamaica still faces serious challenges. The lack of respect for human life and the level of violence are unacceptable. Too many of our citizens are still falling through our social safety net despite our efforts so far. They are living in less than human conditions, without sufficient health care, housing and the education which will provide the skills and attitudes which will enable them to take their place in society.

These inequalities can only be corrected if each of us is willing to sacrifice some of our resources and privileges. When we vote, we should elect persons not merely from self interest or because of what I will receive, but for those who will serve and care for all; persons who do not have a narrow partisan vision, but those who will make sure that all Jamaicans, especially the poor, have access to the goods and opportunities which Jamaica has to offer. 

As members of our community of faith, we should make every effort that our daily conduct and conversation conform to our Catholic faith and its tradition of social thought. As St. Paul urges us "Do not conform yourself to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect." [Romans 12:2].

If, indeed, we are conformed to the mind of Christ, we will reject all violence as well as confrontational advertisements, conversations, actions and interactions.

In exercising your precious right to vote, do not sell your vote to the highest bidder, but inform yourself and reflect on the performance of all who offer themselves to represent you in Parliament.

Remember that your vote on Election Day will help determine the quality of life in our beloved nation for the next five years. You will be voting for the safety of our communities and nation, a fair sharing of opportunities and resources that does not favour party supporters or the economically prominent above the poor and the disabled. Your vote should be for persons who not only offer workable plans to address the challenges mentioned earlier, but also who will advance the cause of justice and peace, preserve human life, defend the institution of marriage and the family, and protect and preserve our environment, our heritage and our culture.

May your faith in the Lord direct your choice, and may God continue to bless and prosper our Jamaica, land we love. My wish is that every Jamaican enjoy the fruits of emancipation and independence as we work together for true freedom and justice in our land.

Devotedly in Christ,

Most Reverend Lawrence A. Burke,S.J, D.D.
Archbishop of Kingston

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