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Monday, June 24, 2024

CBCP: No law quiets Church on poll activity

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No law prohibits any church or religion to speak up and participate in political affairs, the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) said Monday in a pastoral letter.

CBCP President and Caloocan Bishop Pablo Virgilio David said the separation of church and state was created for the government to respect the right to freely exercise religion.

“And any church, as a member of society, has the right and the duty to speak, especially on behalf of our underprivileged brethren. This is the primary duty of one who is serving the country,” David said.

The Catholic Church will speak up and voice its sentiments, especially if it is the truth, life, and the public welfare that are at stake, he added. “The Church cannot stay silent on matters of the truth, goodness, and justice,” David said.

The Catholic Church was earlier criticized by the camp of presidential candidate Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. for allegedly “meddling with politics,” accusing clergymen of “hateful and negative campaigning.”

“As men and women of the cloth, they should be more circumspect, refrain from openly meddling with politics and stop making reckless imputations or statements that only serves as a spiritual, moral, social, and cultural poison,” Marcos’ spokesperson Vic Rodriguez had said.

Christian Monsod, one of the framers of the 1987 Constitution, said priests and bishops “have the right to freedom of speech” to comment on political issues.

David stressed the importance of the May 9 elections, as it will determine who Filipinos will entrust their lives and future to for the next six years.

“We need leaders and lawmakers who have heartfelt intentions and who are worthy to serve for the good of our nation: in every town, city, province, and the whole country,” he said.

David advised Catholics to take some steps to ensure a free and fair democratic election, which includes further discussion and scrutiny of political candidates and current issues.

He also suggested voters take the “LASER” test when examining candidates—an acronym for Lifestyle, Action, Supporters, Election conduct, and Reputation of a candidate.

“We must demand accountability and transparency of our candidates, our leaders, and ourselves. We want fair elections,” the prelate added.

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