The endorsement by an organization of Catholic lay people of Vice President Leni Robredo’s presidential bid does not mean an endorsement of the Church as an institution, said an official of the bishops’ conference.
Father Jerome Secillano, executive secretary of the Permanent Committee on Public Affairs of the bishops’ conference, said every voter has the right to choose his or her candidate and should not be dictated by anyone.
The priest said the endorsement of the Council of the Laity of the Philippines, or the Sangguniang Laiko ng Pilipinas, of the candidacy of Robredo should not be viewed as “block voting” of the Catholic Church.
In a report on Church-run Radio Veritas 846, the priest assured that the Church will alway side with what is good and what is true.
The Council of the Laity on Tuesday said Robredo “bested” other candidates for president based on her “track-record of service, dedication to good governance, ability to implement partnerships and programs for the advancement of the people especially the marginalized, and her unassailable integrity.”
“Hence, we explicitly endorse Vice President Leni Robredo to the highest position of our land,” said the group, which is also known as Laiko, a public association of the faithful established by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines to “develop the consultation and collaboration of the lay faithful.”
Father Secillano said the Church does not dictate people who to vote for during elections.
“Because nuns, priests, and bishops are also voters, we cannot dictate them who to vote for,” the priest said in Filipino in the Radio Veritas interview on Wednesday.
The priest also reminded members of the clergy not to support candidates whose platforms are not consistent with the teachings of the Church.
“If the would do it, the Church might be compromised because candidates have views that are contrary to the teaching and advocacy of the Church,” said Father Secillano.
“It would then appear that the candidates they endorsed are against the Church’s teaching,” he added.
He said it would be better for Church leaders to let the laity endorse the candidates, and priests and bishops “to just keep their choices a secret.”
He said it is consistent with the call of the Church for the establishment of “circles of discernment” where Church leaders act as guides in the decision-making process of the community.
Cardinal Jose Advincula of Manila earlier urged the faithful to form “circles of discernment” ahead of the national elections.
“I suggest that we form ‘circles of discernment’ so that we can listen and follow the will of God,” he said in an interview in November.
“I also pray that we go into a serious study of the programs and platforms of each candidate,” he said, adding that it would be good to review history and learn from it.
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