Masbate priest ‘betrays’ vow

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MANILA, Oct. 3, 2012— He may have good intentions, but for a clergyman to enter politics is simply a ‘betrayal’ of his priestly vows.

Catholic Church officials said that while priests have duties to inform the faithful about moral issues, they are not allowed to run for public office because of its partisan nature.

“Politics is not for the clergy but for the laity… so any priest who does politics betrays his spiritual calling,” said Bishop Arturo Bastes of Sorsogon.

“When a priest is ordained, he accepts obligations for his whole life and it’s a pity he’ll betray these obligations in favor of something else,” said retired Archbishop Oscar Cruz of Lingayen-Dagupan.

Catholic priests seeking government elective posts are not new in Philippine politics. In May 2007, Fr. Eddie Panlilio ran as governor of Pampanga and Fr. Ronilo Omanio tried his luck for same post in Occidental Mindoro.

Ronilo was defeated while Panlilio failed to finish his term as governor because he was removed from his post in February 2010 following a recount of votes due to an election protest.

Panlilio and Omanio ran for the same position in the 2010 polls but lost again. Fr. Diosdado Tabios was also defeated in his bid for governor in Bukidnon.

In Davao del Norte, voters failed to support Fr. Emerson Luego who ran as mayor in Santo Tomas.

This week, Fr. Leo Casas announced his intention to run for governor of Masbate come May 2013 midterm elections.

The bishops, however, are not alarmed that more priests opt to be suspended from their clerical obligations over politics.

According to Bishop Jose Oliveros of Bulacan, majority of the country’s priests remain “faithful” to their commitments.

“We must not generalize,” said Oliveros.

Lipa Archbishop Ramon Arguelles said that while it is good that people are clamoring for reform in the government, he noted that Church law prohibits priests from running for public office.

“Maybe they have to bring in clerics for lack of competent and reliable people,” he said. “But I am not in favor of any priest becoming a politician.” [RL/CBCPNews]

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