‘Don’t cheat; don’t sell your votes’

By: Victor Anthony V. Silva March 26,2016 - 10:22 PM

CATHOLICS in Cebu were urged to shun deceitful candidates and  not sell their votes as they were asked to reflect on their role in the coming elections by a Church leader on Good Friday, exactly 45 days before the May 9 polls.

Fr. Marvin Mejia, vice chancellor of the Cebu Archdiocese and secretary general of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), reminded the faithful that the Eucharist should not only be evident in their personal lives but should also transcend to national concerns.

“In the light of our faith, let us reflect on our role in the upcoming elections which is a political act of the people,” he said in Good Friday’s  Siete Palabras or the

“Seven Last Words,” a series of reflections on Jesus Christ dying on the cross, held at the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral.

The campaign period for local candidates coincided with Good Friday, March 25, but campaigning was not allowed because this would constitute an election offense. Instead, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) moved the start of the campaign period to March 26, or Black Saturday.

Mejia said the election promises of the candidates served as a comparison to Christ’s second word: “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in paradise.”
(The thief crucified beside the dying Christ had only asked the Lord to remember him. Instead, Christ assured him that he will be with Him in paradise.)

“So (that) we will vote for them, these candidates promise us change in the nation, in society, a righteous path, a peaceful household, solutions to crime, illegal drugs, an end to corruption, additional jobs and projects. These are the different faces of ‘paradise,’” said Mejia.

Mejia explained that paradise, in today’s world, could mean progress, development, or a good life—similar to what politicians and candidates promise to give should they be elected this year.

Recalling the CBCP’s pastoral letter issued last Jan. 30,  Mejia said the “unsurpassed gift of the Eucharist lays upon us the responsibility to live according to Christ whom we received.”

“Most certainly, our faith in the Eucharist is incompatible with the use of violence, vote-buying and cheating during the election period,” the letter further read.

Mejia urged the faithful not to allow themselves to be used for cheating, saying that selling one’s right to vote is tolerating sin and it is against the good of many. The CBCP further admonishes, he added, that the faithful be guided by a sense of common good as they elect leaders of this nation.

“Let us choose those who are truly upright and self-sacrificing, respectful of the dignity of all and compassionate towards the poor. Let us reject those who are dishonest, deceitful, self-seeking and unmindful of the poor,” said Mejia.

Reflections were also given by three laity — head of the family Mikhail Arrogante, former overseas Filipino worker Wilfredo Credo and street children formator Ma. Georgia Cogtas; Cebu Auxiliary Bishops Dennis Villarojo and Oscar Florencio; and Perpetual Succour Hospital Chaplain Fr. Clyde Salitreto.

Four key events guided the reflections: 2016 as the Year of the Family and the Eucharist as declared by the CBCP, the 51st International Eucharistic Congress, the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy as Declared by Pope Francis, and the forthcoming May 9 elections.

Arrogante discussed the Lord’s forgiveness and how the celebration of the Eucharist helped strengthen his family while Villarojo emphasized the “motherly” role of the Catholic Church.

Florencio, recalling his experience during Supertyphoon Yolanda in Palo, Leyte, discovered how the Eucharist gave him hope in the midst of  tragedy; while Credo recalled his experience leading a Catholic community in Saudi Arabia and how the Eucharist quenched his “thirst” for Christ in a nation that limits the practice of Christianity.

Cogtas narrated how love could serve as a motivation to finish one’s work, just as Christ finished his work on earth out of love and obedience to the Father.

Salitrero recounted his experiences with street children, garbage collectors and hospital patients and how the faithful should show them mercy and compassion.

Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma concluded the meditations, which lasted from noon until 3 p.m., with a prayer of thanksgiving for those who seriously reflected on the Seven Last Words of Jesus Christ.

He also prayed that Catholics would continue to be instruments of hope and change in their communities and parishes.

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TAGS: Catholic, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, Cebu, Cebu Archdiocese, Good Friday, Holy Week

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