There is a whale of difference between engaging politics and engaging in politics. Churchmen may not engage in politics. But engage politics they must according to the dictate of truth, reason, morals.
Engaging politics is confronting political desires and designs when these are contrary to integrity, justice or ethics. It is questioning political decisions, actions and options when these are immoral in contents, inimical to common welfare, harmful of people. Churchmen cannot but engage politics. This is a duty—not an option.
Engaging in politics is entering the political arena, pursuing political agenda, having political motives. It is doing partisan politics, promoting partisan interests, favoring partisan agenda. Churchmen may not engage in politics. This is neither their competence nor mission.
The problem is not really when churchmen engage politics—but who are favored or disfavored by the engagement. When churchmen engaged politics as in EDSA 2 that favored the then Vice President and her partymates, these rejoiced and clapped their hands. But when churchmen now engage the politics of the incumbent President and her partymates, these cry foul, conveniently invoke the separation of Church and State, and want churchmen to shut up.
Truth to tell, would that churchmen simply keep quiet, stay still and remain in their churches even when they behold the ploy of dirty politics, the exercise of questionable leadership, the presence of a destructive governance. They would then be spared of rabid accusations, big insults and curses.
But such a silence is not an option. Reason: It would mean that churchmen are numb to the plight of their oppressed and depressed, poor and hungry, sick and helpless neighbors—basically on account of politics without principles, without morals.
If Christ did not engage the twisted socio-political situation of his times, he would not have been crucified. Had he simply kept quiet, he would have lived a long and peaceful life. But that would not be Christ.
22 September 2005