Wisdom and knowledge to govern well

Friday July 29, 2016 Written by Published in Church Talk

TE MAEVA Nui celebrations begin today.  The official programme is always full, with its serious moments, such as Constitution Day itself with its focus on celebrating nationhood, self governance and independence.

Whereas the float parade provides a lighter moment. The choir competitions and cultural performance are both entertaining and educational.  This week I want to highlight the best in government as envisaged in the Constitution.

I acknowledge the importance of the political order. All human societies develop some kind of political structure for regulating themselves and coordinating their common activities.  As far as I know, churches are not wedded to any type of political order. Churches have worked with many political orders over the centuries, including monarchies and empires, insisting in the end only on the rule of law, whereby the law is sovereign and not the arbitrary will of individuals. The rule of law can be best maintained by balancing legislative, executive and judicial powers against each other, rather than combining them all in one person or a single institution. A country like the Cook Islands is ruled democratically: the government is elected by all the citizens through a secret ballot where parties and individuals are free to present their ideas to the electorate at regular intervals, and politicians are held publicly accountable for their actions. Our churches in general, value the democratic system for its ability to involve citizens in the making of political choices and giving them the opportunity to replace their political leaders by peaceful means.

Authentic democracy requires not only the rule of law but that it also value its citizens. The Constitution of the Cook Islands with a section on “fundamental human rights and freedom” expresses this respect for the human person.

Different political systems, different policies, must be judged on the basis of whether or not they serve the true interest of the human person and the common good. Truth cannot be determined by a majority vote.

While we enjoy ourselves this week with the various festivities planned, I remind you not to lose sight of what we are celebrating.  At the centre of our festivities is a constitution that establishes the basic rights of all Cook Islands citizens and provides direction on how the government should work. “O Lord God, let your word to David my father be now fulfilled, for you have made me king over a people as numerous as the dust of the earth. Give me now wisdom and knowledge to go out and come in before this people, for who can govern this people of yours, which is so great?”2 Chronicles 1:9,10

            Bishop Paul Donoghue Catholic Church.

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