01/26/2004, 00.00

Image of bishops, suggestions for election time

Tagaytay (AsiaNews) – Today the 88th edition of the Plenary Assembly of 80 Filipino bishops came to an end. The 3-day assembly was held in Tagaytay, focusing on the pope's latest Apostolic Exhortation, "Pastores Gregis", on which bishop Luis Antonio, of the Imus dioceses, gave a summary.     

Msgr. Fernando Capalla, archbishop of Davao and president Philippine Bishops Conference, spoke about brotherhood between bishops; Cardinal Ricardo Vidal, form Cebu, spoke about the spiritual life of bishops: Msgr. Orlando Quevedo, archbishop of Cotabato and former president Bishops Conference, talked about a pastor's three missionary duties: to teach, sanctify and lead.   

During the assembly various episcopal commissions gave reports on particular evangelization projects, regarding issues of family life (including a pro-abortion law being discussed in the Senate and capital punishment), guidelines on sexual wrongdoings of some Church leaders, and the upcoming national and presidential elections ( in May 2004).   

The bishops dedicated much of their attention to the next elections. In a pastoral letter issued today, they stated that that the country is once against at a crossroad: "Before the election campaign began, the 2004 elections were poisoned by an atmosphere of confusion, cynicism and lack of credibility. The electoral process is more than ever before dominated by favoritism, corruption, personalities, and not by principles, party platforms and the genuine participation of the people." Notwithstanding the bishops repeated Christ's words "Be not afraid", urging all to rise to the following challenges:

1.      To uphold the constitution process and law, remaining vigilant at election time.

2.      To work together. The bishops praised the efforts of numerous citizen movements to guarantee clean and orderly elections. Such movements have organized a careful scrutiny of candidates and poll-watchers. In particular the bishops urged lay men and women to be involved in politics through education of social responsibilities and non-partisan poll-watching, among other things.

3.      To believe in a person's ability to change society. "We encourage teachers, young people, military and police forces and anyone involve in the elections to exercise their role in an upright manner. In the Church of the Poor, a poor person must be a leader in changing society and understand that implementing such changes requires leaders to serve the people and not merely hand out favors.  

The bishops invited all faithful to pray during this critical election period "so that God's grace may light our country's way."(SE)

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