ASIA/PHILIPPINES - Uphold values, avoid taking sides with political parties: Archbishop Fernando Capalla urges priests and religious in view of elections on May 10

Thursday, 15 April 2004

Davao (Fides Service) - Uphold values, avoid taking sides with political parties is the advice to priests and religious offered by Archbishop Fernando Capalla, President of the Philippines Bishops’ Conferences , in view of elections on 10 May
Archbishop Capalla of Davao, recalled that according to the Code of Canon Law, Canon 287, bishops, priests and religious may not be directly involved in political parties. The priest must be an element of unity in the parish. If he supports one particular candidate he risks dividing the community, the Archbishop explained.
He also advised lay Catholics, catechists, or people who are active members of Catholic communities or movements to leave any liturgical or pastoral duties in the ecclesial community so as not to upset people.
“The duty of the Church - the Archbishop said - is to promote harmony in the community. The clergy are at the service of the people and as leaders that cannot be identified with a political party ”.
“Priests - he said - have a duty to speak about politics because politics are a duty for every Christian. Politics is the highest form of service a citizen can offer his country. The Church is striving to educate the faithful to correct political involvement, organising seminars on the Church’s Social Teaching in every diocese and social centre”.
The Archbishop said that every Christian has a duty to evangelise politics, to bring Christian values to the administration of public life to guarantee the common good according to criteria of justice, solidarity and honesty.
Archbishop Capalla’s intervention comes as the Philippines is in the middle of an election campaign for the May 10 vote. Many candidates all over the country tend to embellish their speeches with religious motives or symbols: a fact which has led the local Church to issue these indications.
In the meantime, aware of the important role of the Church among the people the national authorities have asked the Bishops’ Conference to encourage Catholics to help monitor the vote. Dioceses and parishes particularly in the south of the country have been asked to be on the alert and to monitor to ensure a regular and peaceful election.
(PA) (Agenzia Fides 15/4/2004 lines 25 words 253)