A Pastoral Exhortation
"The Church values the democratic system inasmuch as it ensures the participation of the citizens in making political choices, guarantees to the governed the possibility of both electing and holding accountable those who govern them..." (John Paul II, Centessimus Annus, #46).
AS we approach once again the critical moment of our national election on May 14, let us meet the new crossroads in our history with our best efforts to make it an Honest, Orderly and Peaceful Election. Being in a democracy, this is the Covenant of Hope that we are all enjoined to give for our country’s future.
To ensure credible results from the coming election, we call on everyone in the Church and in civil society, and on all participating groups and parties, to CHAMPION the cause of democratic election, by ensuring it to be Clean, Honest, Accurate, Meaningful and Peaceful.
We must disapprove, reject and condemn as immoral all acts of violence and cheating, including the evil of “vote padding and shaving” (dagdag-bawas) in favor of or against any candidate. Let both candidates and their supporters face the judgment of democratic election with humility and magnanimity.
We exhort everyone to be vigilant, to pray and to offer penance for this intention. Let us accompany with extreme vigilance and prayer the crucial period of campaigning, voters’ education, transporting of election paraphernalia, poll watching, and very especially, the canvassing and reporting of the votes. May the hand of God stop evil from getting in control. We need the Lord’s help, without which our best efforts will come to nothing. Thus, we urge everyone to invoke the grace if the Holy Spirit to guide our people in this electoral exercise, for the renewal of our country towards genuine common good.
We want this exhortation to reach every Filipino. Let us be one in prayer, penance and vigilance. In a particular way, we request for the prayers of our contemplative men and women in the monasteries; there are more than a hundred of such monasteries all over the country. As they kneel before the Most Blessed Sacrament, we request them to pray for our country—especially for all voters, candidates, and election officials/workers.
Let our prayer also accompany the work of the PPCRV and NAMFREL, the COMELEC and the thousands of teachers in the field, the social action ministries of CBCP-NASSA, LENTE (Legal Network for Truthful Election), as well as the assistance of the AFP and PNP, and of the hundreds of religious organizations and civil society groups—all hoping and championing the cause of credible election.
We strongly recommend that the parishes organize Holy Hours or prayer vigils in their churches or chapels for these intentions, between May 5 and May 14, with the help of the Apostleship of Prayer and other religious organizations. We likewise encourage the Basic Ecclesial Communities to do the same in their centers. Humble and trusting prayers are needed to safeguard the sanctity of the ballot and of the entire electoral processes.
May our Blessed Mother Mary, the Mediatrix of all grace, and our Guardian St. Joseph the Model of honest and prayerful work, intercede for our beloved country as we face a new transition in our history.
+ANGEL N. LAGDAMEO
Archbishop of Jaro
President, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines
24 April 2007