Bishop urges voters to use 10 commandments
Thou shall not vote for a candidate who has “stolen public money … or has been charged for government graft and bribery.” “Beware of liars” and those “who seek to perpetuate their family’s hold on public office.” Be discerning of “how candidates treat women.”
Or so counseled Archbishop Socrates Villegas, who urged Catholic voters in a pastoral statement on Friday to apply the biblical Ten Commandments in choosing their candidates in the May 9 elections.
The senior prelate, however, made clear that he was issuing the pastoral letter as Archbishop of Lingayen-Dagupan, and not as head of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines.
“Use the age-old standards set by our Judeo-Christian tradition—the Ten Commandments—in assessing the worthiness of the candidates for local and even more for national positions,” said Villegas in the six-page pastoral statement.
The clergy in the archdiocese can read the lengthy letter in parts every Sunday as a postcommunion message until the eve of Election Day next month, Villegas said. “It must not substitute for the homily although it may be integrated into the homily if it fits the readings of the liturgy,” he added.
“We need to be reminded of our mistakes in the past when we elected intelligent leaders who later on became thieves of government coffers, murderers of the opposition and billionaires from public funds,” Villegas said in his pastoral statement.
The faithful, he said, should choose their leaders not based on their ratings in poll surveys, but based “on prayer and conscience.” He added: “Your vote can make heaven come down and make our country beautiful and good as God desires it.”
Villegas said that in light of the first commandment, “You shall not have strange gods before me,” a Catholic voter “should not vote for an atheist or someone who makes fun of the name of God.” Voters should also be open to the candidacy of a non-Catholic, he added.
The second commandment, “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain,” should guide voters to choose candidates who do not have a history of violating oaths they have made, he said.
As for the third commandment, Villegas posed the following questions: “Does the candidate show, through his life, belief in the grace of God at work among his people or has he fallen to the pursuit of some sort of ‘ideology of performance,’ introducing a harsh, impersonal and self-centered utilitarian attitude even for his subordinates?”
The archbishop said the fourth commandment, “Honor your father and mother” was related to the reality of political dynasties in the Philippines, with candidates seeking to perpetuate their family’s hold on public office.
“Christian voters should prudently choose others who may have equal if not superior abilities and competencies for the position. There is no monopoly on ability for government, and truly no one in government is indispensable,” he said.
Reflecting on the fifth and sixth commandments, “Thou shall not kill,” and “Thou shall not commit adultery,” Villegas said voters should choose leaders based on their position on issues such as abortion, the return of the death penalty, euthanasia and extrajudicial killings, as well as views on marriage and sexuality.
The commandment “Thou shall not steal” should encourage Catholic voters to gauge candidates based on their program for the environment and their track record, the senior prelate said.