BY GILBERT P. BAYORAN
Bishop Patricio Buzon has ordered the mandatory setting up of the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPC-RV) in all parishes and chaplaincies under the Diocese of Bacolod, and the organizing of circles of discernment in communities.
In his Pastoral Letter on Lent and Elections, which being was required to be read by priests in their masses, Buzon stressed that the importance of May 9 elections can never be over-emphasized “since it will greatly impact the life of the whole nation for better, or for worse.”
It is a fact that we are badly in need of renewal as a people, both as voters and candidates, Buzon said, as he stressed the need to move from old politics that its toxic to a new kind of politics that is life giving.
As a people, we need to put to death to traditional politics characterized by patronage, vote-buying, corruption, dynasty,deception, fake news… and bring to birth a principled politics grounded on truth, goodness, justice and peace, he further said.
Buzon stressed that the Church as a mother embraces all her children, regardless of political color or social standing, as well as a teacher that fulfills her mission to proclaim the gospel of truth and love.
While being non-partisan, the Church cannot be neutral when the gospel values are violated or compromised, the Bacolod bishop said, adding that the Church fulfills her prophetic role through her leaders, priests and consecrated persons, in providing spiritual and moral guidance to the people, in the exercise of principled politics.
Stressing also that Church ministers are to be non-partisan, the laity are to assume their distinctive role in the just ordering society, whom Buzon said are to actively participate in the political arena, either as political candidates or voters.
Since they have a direct stake in the conduct of this political exercise, the bishop enjoined them to be active in actual campaigning and not just for some ideological, or party-based platform of government, but for candidates who are discerned to be worthy of support, because of their commitment to the common good, and to the gospel values.
The political camps of presidential candidates Ferdinand Marcos Jr and Manila Mayor Isko Moreno earlier questioned the move by some Catholic Church leaders to support the presidential bid of Robredo.
“I think that’s an insult to the Church,” Robredo earlier said.
“I think the Church will never let it be used. The Church is a stronger institution than us politicians and it will never allow itself to be used just because of their inclination for a politician,” Robredo, who is set to have a grand rally in Bacolod City on March 11, said.
Buzon said the Diocese of Bacolod is committed to help ensure an honest, fair and peaceful elections through the PPC-RV, that has proven her non-partisan stance, which enables the Church to work effectively with government in making the elections credible.
Our second commitment in service of the elections, he added, is to organize small groups or circles of discernment in parishes and basic ecclesial communities (BEC) where participants are given the opportunity “to see, judge and act” on political realities in the context of faith.*