This is certainly not about priest living in poverty. It is neither about priests who are over-worked but under-appreciated. This is not even about priests who are killed—or who are already marked to be killed—in the performance of their ministerial duties. This is about priests who for one reason or another made the dangerous option to run for elective public offices not withstanding all advisories and arguments to the contrary.
Needless to say, there is nothing in the constitution of this country that disqualifies priests from pursuing and holding elective government positions. By being priests, they do not become less Filipino citizens. And whereas it can be readily presumed that they know how to read and write, there is nothing in the law of the land that says they may not vote or be voted upon on the occasion of national and/or local elections in the country.
But the universal church has something to say about priests running for elective public offices. After some two thousand years of existence and experience the world over, there is the strong presumption akin to moral certitude that the church has acquired some wisdom in the ways of the world. It would be thus hard to say that she is altogether ignorant about the nature, the workings and implications of politics. There was even a priest who became the president of his country. But he ultimately proved to be a big failure before his own people.
This is why there must be something serious and profound behind the universal law of the church that expressly and officially forbids priests from holding any office that participates of civil power or authority. This is exactly the case when priests run for elective public offices and in fact win the elections.
The truth is that it is a lose/lose situation for priests running for elective public positions. In other words, they lose not only when they lose but also when they win the elections.
They evidently lose when any of the other candidates for the same office, win the elections. But a greater loss is what they do after losing. Would they simply return to the priestly ministry as a fallback, as the only recourse and wherefore a non-option? This is like someone leaving a wife to look for an apparently better woman, only to go back to her if the said woman eventually rejects him.
When they win the elections, they will be at a loss even more. What do they do to the opposition politicians—not to mention their constituents with the different socio-ethical convictions and even contrary principles and political beliefs? How will they exercise the power they wield? What will they do with the money that regularly and abundantly goes their way? There is a whale of difference between ecclesiastical and civil administration, between religious and political governance. In this context, how on earth will those winner-priests live their life of continence, their spirit of poverty, their ecclesial communion?
12 April 2007