04/02/2019, 13.10
PHILIPPINES
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Faith and politics: no to the election campaign at the Kamay ni Hesus shrine

“The shrine is a place for prayer and spiritual cleansing,” said its administrator. The Archbishop of Cagayan de Oro promotes the criteria set by the Bishops' Conference to elect public officials. The latter suggests the faithful form "circles of discernment".

Manila (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The Philippines is set to vote on 13 May. Campaigning must be kept outside the Kamay ni Hesus (KNH) shrine.

Security personnel have been ordered to escort candidates, or anyone else engaged in any form of political activity, out of the famous pilgrimage site in Lucban (Quezon province).

“The shrine is a place for prayer and spiritual cleansing,” said Fr Joey Faller, KNH administrator, People should “Respect the shrine and devotees” and carry out their “political campaign elsewhere”.

Located in the village of Tinamnan, the shrine is one of the favourite destinations for Lenten pilgrims, many of whom come from outside Quezon.

Fr Faller, known as the “healing priest,” warns politicians against putting up campaign posters and streamers outside the complex.

The priest, however, said he was ready to meet any candidate who wanted to join him in prayers for a peaceful, honest and orderly election.

“They can see me anytime. And together we will pray and call on God’s help to bless our country and the Filipino people,” he explained.

The shrine’s administrator urges candidates to discuss issues affecting communities and offer solutions to problems.

“No more empty promises, character assassination and guns, goons and gold. The people have had enough of these for so long and look where we are now,” he said.

“To all voters,” he says, “choose wisely. Use your sacred vote as a potent weapon to improve your lives and change what is wrong around us”.

Mgr Antonio Javellana Ledesma, archbishop of Cagayan de Oro (Mindanao Island), also calls on Filipinos to vote responsibly, seeking God’s guidance to elect worthy candidates.

To do so, they can apply the criteria set by the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) to pick public officials.

For this purpose, the CBCP urges voters to form “circles of discernment” to openly discuss election-related issues and options in choosing their leaders.

“Group discernment should be more enriching and enlightening instead of relying on one’s solitary perceptions,” Ledesma noted.

“The entire community is a stakeholder in the choice of its leaders,” the archbishop explained.

“Candidates should be elected not on the basis of personal favours given to the voter, but on their record of public service and commitment to work for the common good”.

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