02/15/2022, 15.47
PHILIPPINES
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Bishop: El Shaddai founder’s endorsement of Marcos is a ‘personal’ and ‘wrong’ choice

Philippine Catholics are discussing Brother Mike Velarde’s endorsement of the son of the country’s former dictator for the upcoming presidential election. Bishop Teodoro Bacani, the charismatic movement’s spiritual adviser, is opposed to this choice.

 

Manila (AsiaNews) – Brother Mike Velarde, the founder of a popular Philippine Catholic charismatic group, El Shaddai, openly endorsed Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. and Sara Duterte who are running respectively for the posts of president and vice president of the Philippines.

The election is set for 9 May. The endorsement came last Saturday at a rally held in Paranaque in the presence of the two politicians.

In his address, Velarde, referring to their strong political positions, said: “We are in one in mind and heart when it comes to voting. That’s for sure,” Velarde told the crowd during the rally.

“Honorable Brother Mike Velarde, your prayers and blessings – along with all the members of El Shaddai – is another weapon for us as we face the challenges that come with leading the country,” said Sara Duterte.

Velarde’s endorsement is causing a stir within the Philippine Catholic Church and the charismatic movement itself.

Bishop Emeritus Teodoro Bacani Jr of Novaliches, El Shaddai’s spiritual adviser, spoke out against Mike Velarde's stance.

In a video message posted on the website of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines, the prelate said that Velarde’s choice was “personal” and “very wrong”.

“Brother Mike is the founder and servant leader of El Shaddai but he is not the whole El Shaddai Fellowship International Inc., which is much bigger than him,” Bacani said.

The bishop added that as a citizen and voter, Velarde has the freedom to endorse any candidate “and same with the members of El Shaddai”.

But of all the candidates a lay Catholic group can endorse in this election, “It’s definitely not Marcos” because of Marcos Jr’s and his family’s refusal to apologise for the abuses of his father's administration.

Founded in 1978 after Velarde, now 82, recovered from heart disease, El Shaddai expanded thanks to his charismatic preaching via the media. It has also millions of followers among Philippine migrant communities around the world.

An official pronouncement from the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines is expected in the coming weeks on the position Catholics must take with respect to the upcoming May elections.

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