Balanga, 10 April 2013
Diocesan Pastoral Reflection about Elections on May 13
“the good shepherd gives his life for his sheep” (John 10,11)
When the great Pope John Paul II proclaimed Thomas More as the Patron Saint of Statesmen and Politicians, he affirmed that the saint’s entire life was a living witness to ‘the inalienable dignity of the human conscience ’and his martyrdom was a touching lesson in life that ‘man cannot be separated from God, nor politics from morality.’
The Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et Spes, 76 clearly states that in our fulfillment of civic duties, we must be ‘guided by a Christian conscience.’ The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Church likewise noted that ‘a well-formed Christian conscience does not permit one to vote for a political program or an individual law which contradicts the fundamental contents of faith and morals.’
With these as guiding principles and with the forthcoming May 13 Elections, let me share with you my pastoral reflections.
To aspire for public office should be a desire, first and foremost, to be of help to others. It should be motivated by dedication to serve; and to be of service means willingness to give, to share and to offer all one possesses, rather than to amass power and wealth for himself or for his group. Public officials are called upon to serve especially those who are less privileged, less fortunate, and the least taken care of. Our position in society, community or place of works – whether involving religious or civic authority - does not mean that we lord over those who are under us, or that we feel superior to them and demand services from them. These people are given and entrusted to us so as opportunities to help them, uplift them, promote their rights, to provide for their needs and improve their lives. Saint Matthew reminds us that Jesus came ‘not to be served but to serve’ (20,28).
Any position in government, especially those requiring a mandate from the people, involves a responsibility and duty to serve them. This service is like that of the Good Shepherd in the Gospel of Saint John (cfr. John 10,11-15). A true shepherd leads and guides his flock to the right and moral path. He defends and protects them. He gives and sustains the life of his flock. Would you not choose a leader with these positive traits? Would you not let yourself be under his care, under this kind of shepherd?
Guided by our well-formed conscience let us use our right to vote responsibly, conscientiously and sincerely. Let us go for quality rather than quantity. Let us be moved by good deeds rather than fine words. Let us be challenged by legal and good examples rather than fiery speeches. Let us be inspired by a credible and honest living rather than external appearances. Let us be carried away by noble performances rather than bold promises and showmanship. Let us be attracted by selfless services rather than giveaways. Let us be motivated by what he can do for God and for His people rather than to his own and to himself. The Gospel reminds us that he who could be trusted in small things can be trusted in big things (cfr. Luke 16, 10-12). The proper and moral exercise of our suffrage applies to all elective posts.
Before his martyrdom Thomas More confessed that he was to die ‘in and for the faith of the Holy Catholic Church’ and he died ‘king’s good servant, but God’s first.’
Let us now pray:
Lord Jesus, our good Shepherd and benevolent Sower
As we go to out vote, walk with us to safety and to a moral decision.
Let us not be intimidated by show of force.
Let us not be carried away by instant promises of jobs and false securities.
Let us not be moved by a sense of gratitude or by padrino system.
Let us not be bought by money or by promotions or assurances of positions.
O Lord Jesus, as we go out to vote, come with us and remind us that:
our vote is our right,
our vote is our choice,
our vote must be based on the dictate of our conscience,
and our vote decides our future.
O Lord Jesus, as we go out to vote please grant us the grace and wisdom
to cast our vote for the glory of God,
for the good of our beloved Bataan and our country,
for the welfare of everybody,
for the brighter and secured future of our children, and
for our own personal sanctification.
We humbly pray o Lord Jesus, for a clean, safe and honest election.
We humbly implore You o Lord Jesus, our good Shepherd and benevolent Sower
for a peaceful and responsible elections.
+Ruperto Cruz Santos, DD
Bishop of Balanga