Church leaders urged: Be more vocal on politics
MANILA, Philippines–A Church-based political party on Wednesday expressed hope that Pope Francis would inspire Church leaders to speak up more about politics to help the faithful make intelligent and conscience-based decisions as Filipino citizens.
Ang Kapatiran Party founder and chair emeritus Reynaldo “Nandy” Pacheco lamented that most Catholic lay people had little or no idea about the role of the Church in the nation’s political life.
“Most people think of politics as something ‘dirty’ and would not get involved in it. But the Church is duty bound to help form consciences in political life. I’m confident that Pope Francis’ visit will inspire the Church and the faithful to work together to put up political cathechesis in every parish or diocese in order to excise the political cancers that have been afflicting our body politic,” Pacheco told the Inquirer.
Not to be indifferent
Pacheco said Church leaders should guide Catholic laymen, from political leaders to ordinary citizens, to become not only good Catholics but also good citizens.
“Sadly, those in the national government are officials who are mostly Catholics from Catholic schools and universities. The irony of it all is that the Philippines is the only Catholic Christian country in Asia,” Pacheco said.
He recalled that Pope Francis, in a homily in September 2013, rejected the idea that “a good Catholic doesn’t meddle in politics” and called on the faithful not to be indifferent but instead offer their suggestions and prayers so their leaders will serve well.
“A good Catholic meddles in politics, offering the best of himself, so that those who govern can govern.” None of us can say, ‘I have nothing to do with this, they govern,’” the Pope had said.
In his homily, the pontiff also described politics, citing the social doctrine of the Church, as “one of the highest forms of charity, because it serves the common good.”
Pacheco said he hopes the Pope’s visit will energize and give hope to clergy and laymen alike so they could solve if not alleviate the country’s woes. But this would only happen if the faithful are made aware about their political roles and responsibilities.
He recalled that in 1997, or just two years after the visit of St. Pope John Paul II, the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines issued a pastoral exhortation stating, “If we are what we are today—a country with a great number of poor and powerless people—one reason is the way we have allowed politics to be debased and prostituted to the low level it is in now. This is worse than the natural calamities that we suffer.”
Pacheco said the wrong understanding of politics, the absence of accountable and responsible political parties, and the failure of voters as a whole to express their collective aspirations and to vote responsibly were problems that the Church could help solve since there are moral dimensions involved.
He said even Pope Francis’ predecessor, Benedict XVI, reminded Church leaders in 2008 about “the necessity and urgency of the evangelical formation and pastoral accompaniment of a new generation of Catholics working in politics, that they be coherent with the professed faith, that they have moral firmness, the capacity of educated judgment, professional competence and passion for service to the common good.”
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