Some Catholic bishops have advised pro-reproductive health (RH) law candidates thinking of seeking their “blessings” as they begin their election campaigns Tuesday to “forget it.”
On the eve of the start of the 90-day campaign period for national positions, at least four prelates said they were not keen on laying their hands on candidates who supported the RH law should they ask for their blessing.
“I will not meet with them but I am not saying they won’t be welcome,” Lipa Archbishop Ramon Arguelles told reporters.
“No, let them stay away from us,” said Sorsogon Bishop Arturo Bastes in a separate interview. Baguio Bishop Carlito Cenzon expressed the same sentiment.
For his part, Malolos Bishop Jose Oliveros said that if a candidate sought his blessing as a private individual, he would gladly give it. “But as a candidate, I will certainly not give my blessing to his or her candidacy because he or she supports a cause against the teachings of the Church,” he said.
But Cubao Bishop Honesto Ongtioco has a different take on the matter. The prelate said he would welcome anyone who would ask him to bless his or her candidacy but, just the same, he would encourage people to vote for candidates based on their values and those who are pro-God, pro-life and pro-environment.
“Everybody is welcome. No discrimination. We are not partisan,” said Ongtioco.
Basilan Bishop Martin Jumoad said he saw no reason those candidates couldn’t be welcomed. “A pro-RH candidate is a child of God and a brother or sister to me. I can be very diplomatic and respectful toward him or her as a person,” he said.
Jaro Archbishop Angel Lagdameo said a “courtesy welcome is due a courtesy visit.”
Maasin Bishop Precioso Cantillas said he was willing to give his blessings to a candidate, even those who rabidly supported the RH law. However, this should not be construed as an endorsement.
He stressed that the Church, even in past elections, did not endorse candidates.
“As a pastor, I welcome anyone who would ask for God’s blessings. I would also proclaim to him or her God’s teachings and that of the Church,” Cantillas said.