Priests await bishops’ pastoral statement on 2022 polls; focus on 'prophetic' role

Several Catholic Church leaders on Thursday, Jan. 27, highlighted their roles as “prophets” and stressed that priests and nuns can endorse their chosen candidates as they await for the bishops’ pastoral statement on the coming May 2022 national elections.

Father Danny Pilario and Father Flavie Villanueva (1Sambayan/Facebook)

Fr. Flavie Villanueva, SVD, founder of St. Arnold Jannsen Kalingan Foundation who helped the families of the victims of extrajudicial killings, said that they cannot set aside their being a prophet especially in the time of elections.

“Bukod dun sa hinaing ay may pana-panahon, may oras para sa lahat, may oras sa pag-aaral, sa pagninilay, may oras sa panalangin. Ngunit sa nalalapit na eleksyon, meron din oras sa pagpapalalim ng kabanalan at ito ay iyong pagiging propeta (Aside from the grievances, there is a time for everything, there is a time for studying, there is a time for reflection, there is a time for prayers. But in the upcoming elections, there is also time for deepening the holiness and this is to become a prophet),” he stressed.

The priest asked for prayers for the bishops, who listened to their members and know the concerns of the people, as they come up with the pastoral statement.

Villanueva, Fr. Danny Pilario, CM, Fr. Albert Alejo, SJ, and Bro. Armin Luistro Jr., FSC were the guests during 1Sambayan’s Tapatan entitled “Politikal Na Pagmamahal, Batayan sa Paghalal.”

Pilario, a member of the Catholic Theological Society of the Philippines, noted that all are waiting for the guidelines from the bishops.

“I trust that the bishops have been listening to people from the ground. Sila po ay galing sa mga (They come from their) diocese nila at alam nila ‘yung hinaing nga mga tao. Alam nila na maraming tao ang mga biktima ng karahasan mula (They know the grievances of the people. They know that a lot of people became victims of violence from) Martial Law hanggang ngayon (until now),” he said.

Pilario, a theologian, explained that a provision in the Canon Law allows priests and nuns to endorse.

“Malaya ang pari at madre na mag-endorse (The priests and nuns are free to endorse) but there is no place for each Christian and each Catholic to be neutral in the face of injustice, destruction of the common good and society there is no place for neutrality,” he insisted.

Although the Canon Law states that priests should be “a center of unity in a community,” which is often interpreted to be non-partisan, Pilario cited that there is also a provision on it about social justice.

“He can engage in partisan politics if the protection of the rights of the church and the promotion of the common good requires. So, may (there’s an) exception. Ang ibig sabihin kapag ang (This means that if the) common good ay sinisira ay dapat lumaban kahit pari ka man o madre (you have to fight even if you are a priest or nun),” he explained.

He stressed that the killings and corruption during Martial Law and the Duterte administration, as well as during the pandemic, “destroys the interests of the common good of society.”

“Kaya nga po sila ay pumoposisyon at mag-e-endorso. Ibig sabihin hindi naman nila nilabag ang Canon Law dahil sinama din naman ng Canon Law na pupwede ito (That is why they are taking positions and endorsing. This means they are not violating the Canon Law because the Canon Law also said this is allowed),” he added.

Their remarks came as supporters of the rivals of Vice President Leni Robredo criticized the Church for allegedly taking a political position.

Some Churches have pink parols and pink flags hanging in their premises. Pink has become symbolical of Robredo’s campaign.

There are also groups of priests and nuns supporting and volunteering for the Vice President, who is often photographed with the clergy during her visits to various provinces.