“[W]hen the good, the truth, life and the welfare of all are at stake, be assured that we shall raise our voice.”
In a statement released by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) on March 27, CBCP president Bishop Pablo Virgilio David encouraged the faithful to protect the integrity of the fast-approaching general elections on May 9 as it emphasized that the welfare of all Filipinos is everybody’s responsibility.
Speaking on behalf of all Filipino Church leaders through a pastoral letter entitled “Be Concerned About the Welfare of Others”, Bishop David provided suggestions to uphold healthy political discourses through voters’ education and empowerment, and to fight all acts that would dishonor the integrity of the polls such as use of violence, money, power, lies, hatred and other acts of cheating that intend to take advantage of the weak and the vulnerable.
“Each vote is important, so important that it is sought, bought or even stolen. Our vote is our voice and decision. When we sell our vote, we lose our voice and our decision. It is like giving up our freedom and our future,” he said.
“And we should be reminded that taking advantage of the poverty and vulnerability of people in order to acquire votes or advance one’s selfish gain is a serious offense against God,” the Bishop of Kalookan added.
Bishop David also responded on the criticisms that the Catholic Church should not engage in political discussions by citing the Constitution’s clause on the Separation of Church and State.
“There is no law that prohibits any church or religion to speak about and engage in politics. In truth, the principle of Separation of Church and State respects the free exercise of religion. It prohibits the Government from establishing a state religion. And any church, being part of the society, has the right and the responsibility to speak out, especially on the moral aspect of politics and governance,” he pointed out.
Bishop David invited all Christians to pray and seek for the wisdom of the Season of Lent, despite differences in political views and positions.
“Dear brothers and sisters, the transformation of the way we do politics requires a change of heart, attitude and priorities. This is also an invitation of Lent: conversion and reconciliation with God. May our discipleship of Jesus, the Word Made Flesh, serve as our guide and light in making decisions and actions,” he stressed. (Lem Leal Santiago/RCAM-AOC)