The warning that Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas gave to the leaders of the various Catholic-based movements in the country is not only very timely and appropriate, but also a whiff of fresh air coming from a church whose credibility and transparency are both iffy and murky.
What makes the admonition meaningful is that it came on the heels of practically similar exhortation that Pope Francis made at the Papal Basilica of St. Paul‘s Outside the Walls, where he celebrated Mass, saying to the faithful who were in attendance that: “Inconsistency on the part of pastors and the faithful between what they say and what they do, between word and manner of life, is undermining the Church’s credibility.”
On the same vein, Villegas came out with a pastoral letter, where he said that “the church must not even entertain the thought of endorsing candidates since it will just come out as losers even if their candidates win in the elections.”
His pastoral letter went on explaining that: “In endorsing candidates, the Bride of Christ, the church tarnishes her spiritual mission with the stain of the mundane. The endorsed candidate might win, but religion has been reduced to a political party. Religion has been has been used for political gain and our spiritual mission has been compromised.”
What a sound judgment from Villegas!
Villegas, who is also vice president of the CBCP, said that the church should not be perceived as winning or losing an election, saying that the church “must be beyond such.”
Truly, the church should act her role as purveyor of peace, decency, unity, and objectivity in matters involving state functions.
The homily of Villegas was simply putting the house of God in order and placing the clergy and the lay minister’s role in the right perspective – that of not being political king-makers.
State politics is not within the realm of the church, and more so of the lay leaders of Catholic-based movements, who almost always act more popish than the pope.
But, this doesn’t mean to say that these entities won’t entreat government and all political parties involved for an honest, peaceful and credible election. They should, for it is their duty as representative of these religious sectors to demand it. Their faithful followers deserve no less.
Although Villegas did not specify any entity, Bro. Mike Velarde of the famed Catholic charismatic group, El Shaddai, must have felt being alluded to because he wants to see Villegas to explain his White Vote Movement, which has endorsed openly senatorial candidates for the May elections.
These nuggets of wisdom from Villegas should be taken to heart and spread out among the country’s clergies.