Bishop to laity: ‘Name your candidates!’

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ANTIPOLO CITY (27-Feb-2013) – A Catholic prelate urged lay people to participate actively in politics and work for the renewal of the country’s political system.

Straight up and without batting an eyelash, Auxiliary Manila Bishop Teodoro Bacani Jr. said, if bishops cannot endorse candidates, then lay Catholics — by all means — should.

Naming names

“Can you name names? Yes!” Bp. Bacani, the third speaker of the 4th Episcopal Commission on Family and Life (ECFL) national conference, said yesterday, explaining that clergy and the laity have different roles in political life.

Quoting from the 2nd Plenary Council of the Philippines, Bacani said, all Catholics, in fact, should be active in politics.

While stressing that members of the religious can only exhort the faithful to vote wisely and intelligently, he said, Catholics should agree to vote and even campaign for certain people “in order to impress upon our executives and legislators the importance of the values we espouse.”

“[When] you see a good man who holds Catholic principles, don’t just vote for him, work that he may be voted. Get people to work together with you,” Bacani, a member of the Episcopal Commission on Doctrine of the Faith said yesterday.

‘Flight from the world’

Calling on nothing less than a Catholic “renewal of politics” from within and without, Bacani outlined several action points that Catholics can do to participate actively in political life.

He said, first, Catholics should, in fact, run for public office.

“No more ‘flight from the world’ mentality,” he said, quoting Jesus’ own prayer to the Father, asking Him not to take the disciples ‘out of the world’, but to ‘protect them from evil.’

“We are being sent into the world of culture, of the family, of economics — which must be changed for the better. You are being sent to that. We will be disobeying the will of the Lord if you do not participate in politics,” he stressed further.

Paying taxes, traffic rules

Second and probably most basic, Catholics should carry out their civic duties like following traffic rules and paying taxes, specifically, the correct amount of taxes.

He also exhorted the family and life directors and delegates from lay groups to be more proactive, especially during the coming May elections.

“Seek ways and means to influence others to make a conscious and honest choice,” Bacani added, saying a lot can be accomplished with the right motive.

Is he following election rules?

He even encouraged lay leaders to gather their members to talk about their candidates and see whether they fit the bill of a pro-God, pro-poor, pro-life, pro-people, pro-environment leader.

One key trait to look at is how the candidate is abiding by election rules and regulations.

“If people will not abide by the rules of the game, how will they abide by the rules of government when there is nobody watching them all the time?” he asked.

More than 200 lay leaders and family and life directors and coordinators are attending the 4th ECFL conference at the St. Michael retreat house in Antipolo City. [Nirva’ana Ella Delacruz]

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