Home News Priests, religious urged to take ‘active role’ in Philippine elections

Priests, religious urged to take ‘active role’ in Philippine elections

Priests and religious have reportedly “forgotten to be prophets” and have not helped people to work for “principled political participation”

Members of the clergy and the religious should take an “active role” in politics, especially during the national elections on May 9.

The call was made by Vincentian priest and theologian Daniel Franklin Pilario during an online forum hosted by the Conference of Major Superiors in the Philippines on April 22.

Without naming names, Father Pilario said priests and religious should “promote efforts against some candidates” and “endorse others who can protect us” from atrocities like what happened during the years of martial law in the Seventies and the Eighties.

He said Church people should take a stand against “atrocious crimes,” such as human rights violations committed during martial law and in the recent “war on drugs” of the government.

The priest noted that many among members of the clergy and the religious have “forgotten to be prophets” and have not helped the lay people to work for “principled political participation.”

“If we are followers of Christ, why were we silent in times of killings?” said Father Pilario in Filipino.

Statements made by several Church leaders, who endorsed candidates for the coming elections, have become the subject of discussions within and outside the Church in recent weeks.

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“We should have moved and taught people how to engage in partisan politics,” said the Vincentian theologian.

“We have to remember that peace and harmony should be based on justice, and if there is no justice and if [people] are killed, then you have [not achieved peace],” he said.

He then reminded priests and religious that “not working for the Gospel is not preaching it,” adding that “If you want to preach Jesus, be political.”

In a pastoral letter released in March, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines called on voters to elect candidates who will improve people’s lives, especially the poor and the vulnerable.

“We need competent leaders and lawmakers with sincere intentions to serve the welfare of our communities,” read the bishops’ statement.

They warned against “those who use violence, money and power, or other forms of cheating; those who spread lies and hatred; those who manipulate people for their own personal interest; and those who take advantage of the weak and the vulnerable.”

To the allegations that some members of the clergy have been meddling in politics, contrary to the principle of Church-State separation, the bishops said 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. 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,” they said.

In a separate statement in February, the country’s religious superiors urged the public to vote for those who value truth despite the rampant disinformation in social media.

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