The Diocese of Bacolod is committed to ensure honest, fair and peaceful elections through the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPC-RV) and its Circles of Discernment, Bacolod Bishop Patricio Buzon said in a pastoral letter on Sunday, March 6.
The pastoral letter on Lent and elections was read at masses in all churches and chaplaincies in the Diocese of Bacolod.
The bishop directed the mandatory setting up of the PPC-RV in all parishes and chaplaincies, and the organizing of circles of discernment in all communities in the Diocese of Bacolod.
The Diocesan Social Action Center and the Pastoral Office will take the lead in the implementation of his directive and all the diocesan programs regarding the elections, he said.
Through the years the PPC-RV has proven her non-partisan stance that enabled the Church to work effectively with government in making the elections credible, Buzon said.
The bishop said before the elections the PPC-RV engages in the education of voters on the proper and principled exercise of their electoral right and duty.
During the elections the PPC-RV serves as an effective means of safeguarding the sanctity of the ballots, he added.
The PPC-RV also looks beyond the elections and continues its service by monitoring the elected leaders and making them accountable with regard to their electoral promises to the people, Buzon said.
The circle of discernment is a gathering of small groups of people where they are given the opportunity to see, judge and act on political realities in the context of faith, he added.
“This Lent is a special grace, a favorable time given to us by God to renew ourselves and our beloved country through elections,” he said.
“Once again, let us entrust ourselves to the maternal care of Mary, Queen of Peace, who guided out people 36 years ago during the Snap Elections which bore fruit in the recovery of our freedom and the ushering of a new beginning for our country,” Buzon said.
The importance of the elections can never be over-emphasized since it will greatly impact the life of the whole nation for better or for worse, he said.
“We are badly in need of renewal as a people, both as voters and candidates. We need to move from an old politics that is toxic to a new kid of politics that is life-giving,” he said.
“As a people , we need to put to death traditional politics characterized by patronage, vote-buying, corruption, dynasty, deception, fake news… and bring to birth a principle politics grounded on truth, goodness, justice and peace,” Buzon said.
The bishop said the Church embraces all of her children regardless of political color or social standing, as a center of unity for all.
However, while being non-partisan the Church cannot be neutral when Gospel values are violated or compromised, he said.
While Church ministers are to be non-partisan, the laity should actively participate in the political arena as candidates or voters, he said.
“I enjoin all our lay people to be active in actual campaigning not just for some ideological or party-based platform of governance, 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 bishop said.*