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Pastoral Letter on Voters Education

Dearest brothers and sisters!

“Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well.”

Today, we launch the Voters Education Program of the Archdiocese of Caceres. This is our firm and resounding response to the challenge of our faith. As disciples of Christ, it is impossible for us to follow the path of holiness if we turn a deaf ear to the call for political action. Our Catholic faith calls upon us to bring Jesus to society and society, to Jesus. As Catholic citizens, it is our duty to take part in the political exercise of our nation armed with the teachings of our faith.

The Voters Education Program seeks to bring about a Catholic Vote, a free, informed and evangelized conscience vote. When a Catholic casts his vote, he participates not only in building the nation, but in building God’s kingdom if his decision is in accord with the Gospel. Through a Catholic Vote, our faith bears fruit in our public decisions and political choices.

A Catholic Vote is free. When a Catholic makes his choice, he is influenced solely by the desire to bring God to the world, and not by the desires of his human patrons. A decision influenced by fear of losing a job, a shelter, or favors from politicians, is a decision that violates a basic tenet of our faith – that man, by his dignity, has free will.

A Catholic Vote is informed. When a Catholic makes his choice, he is able to distinguish fact from fiction, just from unjust, good from evil. An informed vote is not swayed by the multimillion pesos-worth of strategies to paint a perfect picture over a rotten political leadership. An informed vote does not emanate from a sentimentality evoked by an appeal to the emotion. Rather, it is a vote borne by a clear understanding of our faith and a vigorous effort to bring a Catholic presence in our society.

A Catholic Vote is evangelized. When a Catholic makes his choice, he brings the Gospel to our political system. As members of God’s Church, we pledge allegiance to God and no one else. The Gospel is our moral standard and God’s love for all His children is our moral compass.

We are citizens of God’s kingdom for eternity. Our citizenship on earth is temporary. But this tentative citizenship is our preparation towards sharing in God’s glory. When our lives are directed towards God, we impact the political life of our nation in a way that God wills it to be: we are His soldiers and our lives are at His command.

We launch the Voters Education Program on Palm Sunday to signify an entry to a transformed society. As Jesus himself, in fulfilling His mission, suffered in the hands of men, we, too, will be met with much difficulty and pain. But the promise on Palm Sunday is not lost on all of us – Easter will come.

I call upon the faithful to take courage just as our Ina bravely said yes to God’s plan. The baby she cradled in her arms died a violent death. But her faith was greater than her pain. Let our faith be greater than our fears. A Catholic Vote is our yes to God’s plan.

I call upon the faithful to take action. Participate in the electoral process filled with God’s flame. Support your parishes in the Voters Education Program. Align your schools, your offices, your organizations with the program so we can cast a Catholic Vote: free, informed and evangelized.

I call upon the youth to take your rightful place in our society. Your energy and idealism will bring in fresh hope to a generation that has been hurt and frustrated in the struggle for truth and justice. Let a Catholic Vote be the mark of your generation. Demand for a Catholic Vote; your voice, unafraid and untainted, will surely be heard.  

Pope Francis calls us to be the “protectors of God’s gifts.” But first, we ought to “protect Christ in our lives, so we can protect others, so we can protect creation.” By a Catholic Vote, Christ will reside in our lives and our society, and will protect those who cannot protect themselves. Our Catholic Vote is in the service of “the poorest, the weakest, the least important.” A Catholic Vote is faith actualized in love and service.

This Catholic Vote jumpstarts our renewed commitment to promote the social teachings of the Church. Our participation in the democratic processes of our nation does not begin and end in elections. Thus, the local Church of Caceres, under its education ministry through a new Commission on the Promotion of Social Teachings shall develop an ongoing program that envisions a vibrant community of disciples of Christ, vigilant in its mission to build the Kingdom of God in our society.

Through prayer and discernment, vigilance and hardwork, let us hear God’s voice in our hearts. Let us listen to Him as He calls us to build His Kingdom on earth.

"Therefore do not be anxious, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the Gentiles seek all these things; and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well” (Mt 6, 31-33).

+ ROLANDO J. TRIA TIRONA, O.C.D., D.D. Archbishop of Caceres