What can CBCP say on El Shaddai’s political endorsement?
Last Saturday the Catholic Charismatic movement El Shaddai endorsed its preferred senatorial candidates for this coming Monday midterm election. El Shaddai is just one of the organizations under the umbrella of the Catholic Church.
The Philippines-based Catholic Charismatic movement was founded by its gifted preacher and servant leader Bro. Mike Velarde. To date the group has an estimated following of 9 million members in the Philippines and abroad. But it is not well known yet that the followers would really follow the endorsement of their leader.
So far among the Philippine churches and religious organizations, only the Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) has long been known for bloc voting during elections. The INC members are a known to be good followers of their leaders’ endorsement.
There are other churches that tried to influence their members on political matters, but not really the same with that of the INC. Pastor Apollo Quiboloy also endorsed candidates in the past elections, but his group has not yet been noted to deliver a bloc vote.
On the part of the Catholic Church, its members are given all the freedom to choose their candidates during elections. Although there are some bishops and priests who would express their preferences, but not really as bold like the INC.
In the last presidential election, some bishops issued a parabolic statement against a candidate who openly said he would kill those involved in drugs. There were pastoral letters that served as guidance of the catholic voters.
However, it seems that Catholics voted according to their own personal decision despite the suggestions of their leaders. Hence, President Rodrigo Duterte garnered overwhelming votes despite his late decision to run for the said office.
Even after the election, the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) continues to criticize the way the Duterte administration solves the drug problem. Some of the bishops and priests are very vocal against the president. But Duterte continuously enjoys the high popularity and trust ratings according to the surveys conducted by Pulse Asia and Social Weather Station (SWS).
Why does it happen in a country dominated by Catholics? Does it mean to say that the members of the church are not anymore listening to their leaders? Even El Shaddai, an active church organization?
Note that El Shaddai endorsed 14 candidates namely: Sonny Anggara, Bam Aquino, Nancy Binay, JV Ejercito, Jinggoy Estrada, Imee Marcos, Koko Pimentel, Grace Poe, Bong Revilla, Cynthia Villar, Francis Tolentino, Willie Ong, Bong Go and Bato de la Rosa. Majority of them are from Duterte’s PDP Laban and Hugpong ng Pagbabago.
So why is El Shaddai open in supporting the Duterte candidates? Why do their members support Bong Go, the close aide of Duterte? Why do they support Bato, the executioner of Duterte’s war on drugs?
Although El Shaddai does not represent the whole Catholic Church, but the number of their members is reflective that there are active Catholics yet in favor of the administration’s way in solving the drug problems. Yes, they go to church to hear Mass, but they make their own stand when it comes to politics.
El Shaddai endorsement runs counter to the stand of some high ranking leaders of the Catholic Church. What does its spiritual adviser, a priest, tell the group? Has he reported this matter to the council of the laity and to the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines?
Does CBCP still have the influence over their members? The answer is “yes,” on purely religious matters, but maybe “no,” on the aspect of politics. This is something that CBCP should realize and respect.
So what can CBCP say on El Shaddai’s endorsement?
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