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Philippine bishop warns against endorsing politicians

El Shaddai leader defies appeal and publicly supports six candidates

Philippine bishop warns against endorsing politicians
El Shaddai leader Mike Velarde (File photo) reporter, Manila

April 16, 2013

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A senior Catholic bishop warned clergy and Church groups today against endorsing candidates in upcoming elections, stressing that the Church will end up the loser if they start supporting candidates.

Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Dagupand, vice president of the bishops' conference, said Church leaders can guide voters but not endorse candidates or else they will reduce the Catholic Church to a political party.

"When the Church endorses candidates in political elections she ends up a loser. The endorsed candidate may win with the votes but the Church never wins with him," Villegas said in a pastoral letter issued on Sunday.

By endorsing candidates, "the Bride of Christ, the Church, tarnishes her spiritual mission with the stain of the mundane.... The Church must guide, not dictate," Villegas said

The announcement was made during a prayer rally in Parañaque City on Saturday.

But Mike Velarde, head of the increasingly popular Catholic charismatic group El Shaddai, has defied the appeal and specifically endorsed a number of electoral candidates. All his preferred candidates stood against the RH Bill when it passed through Congress earlier this year.

"It is one way of expressing our gratitude for the steadfast commitment they showed despite the pressure on them to change their position and vote for the passage of the bill," he said. He added that he would be happy to discuss his position with the archbishop.

Velarde, a televangelist who is known for having held considerable sway over politicians and election outcomes for nearly three decades, established the group in 1984.

"There were those who said that there’s no Catholic vote.... We will prove that there’s really a Catholic vote," he said yesterday.

"It’s time to let the public know that there’s such a vote that’s coming in this election and in the future elections."

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