ucanews.com reporter, ManilaUpdated: October 11, 2018 07:55 AM GMT
A candidate poses for a photograph with supporters on the steps of Manila Cathedral before filing his candidacy for the 2019 mid-term elections. (Photo by Jire Carreon)
A Catholic bishop in the Philippines has warned priests against seeking public office after candidates began this week filing their intention to run in mid-term elections next year.
Politics is not part of a priest's task, said Bishop Buenaventura Famadico of San Pablo, head of the Episcopal Commission on Clergy.
"Let us leave the task of serving in government to the laity because if we do that it is as if we have failed in our task," said the prelate.
He said the task of a priest is "to spread God's word and guide the faithful."
The filing of certificates of candidacy for May, 2019, mid-term elections started on Oct. 11 and will end on Oct. 17.
The Commission on Elections says that 61 million Filipinos will be eligible to vote in next year's polls when they choose senators, congressmen, and local leaders.
Bishop Ruperto Santos of Balanga said he would not allow any member of the clergy in his diocese to run.
"I am definitely against it, and never will I allow any of my priests to run for office," said the prelate, adding that a priest "cannot serve two masters."
"As priests, we are already serving the people, and we serve without any perks, privileges nor personal interests. Priests are for and only for God," said Bishop Santos.
He said priests who run for public office betray their "divine calling."
Bishop Arturo Bastes of Sorsogon said church laws do not allow priests to enter politics. "It is against Canon Law," he said.
In the past, there were priests who ran and won elections, but they either left the priesthood or were suspended from priestly duties.
A bishops' conference official, meanwhile, reminded candidates who plan to go to church before filing their candidacy to respect it as a house of worship.
The Commission on Elections office in Manila is right across from Manila Cathedral where candidates usually go to pray before filing their candidacy.
"Don't go there as if you are attending a political rally because a church is a place for prayer," said Father Jerome Secillano of the bishops' public affairs committee.
He also appealed to candidates to respect church premises by not hanging banners outside them.