MANILA, May 1, 2016–The Catholic hierarchy has vowed to support whoever wins in the May 9 presidential elections but on certain conditions.
Archbishop Socrates Villegas, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) president, said the victory must come from an honest electoral process and whoever wins will take the job seriously.
“…Whoever strives to heal the wounds of the divisiveness of politics, whoever respects the rights of all and is earnest in his or her fear of God and is zealous for his precepts has the support of the CBCP,” Villegas said.
“And we will do everything together with our priests so that all our people, to the remotest barangays to which we minister, may rally around a just and God-fearing government that visits no vengeance on foes but is characterized by mercy and compassion for all, not only for allies!” he said.
The statement was contained in a “pastoral appeal” issued on Sunday, barely eight days before Election day— “the crossroads of our journey as citizens of this land and citizens of heaven.”
Government of unity
Villegas reiterated that the CBCP is not endorsing any candidate but they are willing to support the next administration who will serve as instruments of peace, reconciliation and healing.
The bishops lamented that the campaign period has been “rancorous” that inflicted wounds not only on the candidates but even on their supporters.
Villegas said the next administration must led a government of unity that rests neither on expediency nor compromise, “but on truth and justice.”
Call to voters, candidates
As presidential bets are on a tight race based on recent surveys, he warned Catholic voters against candidates who takes not only “politically precarious” positions but also “morally reprehensible.”
“One cannot proclaim Christ as King and at the same time accept the governance of one whose thoughts, speech and demeanor are diametrically opposed to the demands of submission to the Lordship of Jesus Christ,” said Villegas.
“The desire for change is understandable. Our people have suffered from incompetence and indifference,” he said. “But this cannot take the form of supporting a candidate whose speech and actions, whose plans and projects show scant regard for the rights of all, who has openly declared indifference if not dislike and disregard for the Church specially her moral teachings.”
The bishops are asking Catholic voters that they cast their votes not only as an act of citizenship “but also as a public declaration of faith.”
The CBCP also called on candidates to allow voters the free and untrammelled right to an informed choice, and not by proffering them “falsehoods, much less defraud the nation.”
Villegas encouraged Catholics to pray a novena of rosaries and masses from May 1 to 9 for peaceful elections. (R. Lagarde/CBCPNews)