CBCP official warns priests against crossing the line in polls

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Facade of the Philippine Catholic Bishops’ Conference (CBCP) in Intramuros, Manila City. (File photo by RUDY ESPERAS/Philippine Daily Inquirer)

MANILA, Philippines – Amid the growing number of religious leaders openly backing specific candidates for the May 9 elections, an official from the Philippine Catholic Bishops’ Conference (CBCP) reminded them that they might be crossing the line.

In a recent interview on Radyo Veritas, CBCP Vice President Bishop Mylo Hubert Vergara said that while priests and nuns have every right to choose their candidates, they must also protect their identities as servants of God. ‘Church.

“You can state your preference, you can say who your candidate is and why…but because that’s your identity, maybe when you’re trying to persuade others, you can do it unassumingly with caution. It’s much better that way,” Vergara said.

He added that a priest or bishop could cross the line by publicly endorsing the candidate he was supporting and… “we don’t know the consequences.”

Vergara noted that even wearing a mask of a particular color associated with certain candidates could be perceived by parishioners as campaigning.

“Yes, we are clerics, bishops, priests or nuns, and we are confronted with our humanity of wanting to fight for what is true, what is good, beautiful, just [and] fair,” he said.

But, he added, “it’s also good to ask what would be the best creative way to pursue it, given our identity.”

Be aware

Vergara reminded them to be aware of the Church’s mission and advocacy that could be compromised due to their endorsement of a candidate.

But earlier this month, the Bishop of Caloocan, Pablo Virgilio David, gave his blessing to the Kalookan Laity for Principled Politics (KLAPP) by supporting the candidacies of Vice President Leni Robredo and Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan. .

“You, my dear lay people, you have my blessing and I thank the Lord for taking this initiative because in the field of politics you are on the front line,” David said in his message after the mass for the first leaders. . Simbayanihan-KLAPP assembly on February 8.

David, also the outgoing president of the CBCP, said it was a grave sin against God to remain neutral on issues concerning right, wrong, truth and lies when the future of the country was at stake.

“I hope that through (your group) and other lay people, you can help others consider carefully who among the candidates is truly pro-God, pro-people, pro-county, pro-environment and pro -life,” he said, adding, “And I think you already know that.”

The group said the members made the decision to endorse the Robredo-Pangilinan tandem after their “collective discernment”, during which they prayed, discussed and analyzed the platforms and backgrounds of the presidential and presidential candidates. the vice-presidency.

In a statement released on February 12, another group of priests, nuns and missionaries also announced their support for Robredo and Pangilinan who they said were the “best candidates” to be the country’s next president and vice president. .

The “Pari Madre Misyonero Para Kay Leni” has identified three important qualities that a leader of the country must possess: moral integrity (marangal), respect for fundamental human rights (makatao) and patriotism (makabayan).

As of February 19, the group’s statement had garnered 602 signatories, including prominent names like former Education Secretary Br. Armin Luistro and Fr. Amado Picardal, former spokesperson for the Coalition Against Summary Executions .

Silence is not an option

Another Catholic community group that also expressed support for Robredo was the Ligaya ng Panginoon which said in a February 7 statement that it reflects Christian values, based on its stance on various issues.

“As Christians, we cannot remain silent in the face of systematic and ongoing historical revisionism, which includes the organized dissemination of disinformation and the outright lying of some under the guise of information,” he said. declared.

Meanwhile, 11 of the 15 Sangguniang Laiko ng Pilipinas officials announced their support for Robredo, after an assessment of the platforms and backgrounds of all presidential candidates.

“With our current political-economic turmoil and the pandemic situation in the Philippines, we firmly believe that Vice President Leni Robredo, a God-fearing person, is the most capable candidate for President, and we urge our voters, if possible, to consider the same,” they said in a statement signed on February 5.

Laiko, the implementation arm of the Episcopal Commission on the Laity, works with other CBCP commissions, committees, and offices.

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