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Archbishop opposes Church political endorsements

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MANILA, April 13, 2013— A Catholic archbishop has expressed opposition to church leaders and lay groups endorsing candidates for the May 13 midterm elections. 

But Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas strongly agreed that candidates who favored the controversial Reproductive Health (RH) law should not be voted. 

In a pastoral letter, the archbishop said endorsing candidates is a bad idea for churches and ministers. 

He pointed out that when the Church endorses candidates in political elections, its spiritual mission will be compromised and religion will be “reduced” to a political party. 

“We will be lonesome widows after the elections for marrying partisan politics during the campaign,” Villegas said. 

According to him, the endorsed candidate may win but the Church “always ends up loser” because its mission will be tarnished with the “stain of the mundane.” 

“The Church should not be perceived as winning or losing an election. The Church must be beyond such,” Villegas said. “Religions that waltz with politics will die by politics”. 

“The Church must guide and not dictate. The Church must unite and not contribute to the division. The Church must pray and not add to the confusion. The Church must heal and not inflict hurts. The Church must be in the world but not belong to it,” he added. 

Voting guide  

While he is against endorsing candidates, Villegas said that the Church and lay Catholic leaders should still guide the flock entrusted to their care. 

The archbishop called on the voters to examine the candidates “diligently” in the light of the Catholic faith. 

Without naming names, he said those candidates who supported the RH law, a controversial measure that provides state-funding for contraceptives, a legislation opposed by the Church, should not be elected. 

The archdiocese advised the faithful not to vote for the candidates if: 

1. The candidate cannot declare a categorical and clear ‘NO’ to divorce, euthanasia, abortion, total birth control and homosexual marriages, or D.E.A.T.H issues. Pro choice is anti life,” said Villegas. 

2. The candidate has been linked to drug trade, drug possession or drug use or receives money from illegal gambling or has done nothing to stop illegal gambling especially jueteng. Silence is consent. 

3. The candidate has been convicted for a criminal offense. Government officials must be honourable. 

4. The candidate supports black sand mining or tolerates irresponsible quarrying or illegal fish pens. Nature is our mother; if you can rape your own mother, what else will you not do? 

5. The candidate has not done anything until now to uplift the plight of the poor. Performance is better than promises. 

6. The candidate is giving money or distributing goods to voters during the campaign period. Vote buying is prostitution. 

7. The candidate has been involved or linked to terrorism or the use of goons for self protection within or outside the campaign period. Peace is the only way to peace. 

8. The candidate shows off religiosity only during the campaign period or is antagonistic to church teachings and practices. Corruption and hypocrisy are twins. 

9. The candidate is unfaithful to his or her spouse and children. Corruption begins at home. 

10. The candidate has other members of the immediate family in government positions already. Promoting family welfare and promoting the common good cannot mix. 

“We submit these guidelines to you and plead with you to bring them to prayer. If Jesus would vote, for whom would he vote? Vote like Jesus. If you cannot find Jesus from among the candidates just make sure you do not make Judas or Barabbas win,” he also said. 

“If you sell your vote, you sell something sacred; you make yourself a cousin of Judas too,” said Villegas. (Roy Lagarde)


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