13 May Last, the spokesman for the 5th General Conference of the Bishops of Latin America, Most Rev. Hector Pabon, said in no uncertain words that priests who get involved in politics “immediately break the unity and mission they were entrusted with.” Bishop Pabon said that some priests and their communities want to take advantage of the leadership and organizations skills of the priests themselves—eventually turning them into partisan politicians.
The same bishop spokesman said that as soon as a priest becomes “political”, the human community and fraternal communion committed to his pastoral care in terms of making the gospel known to all people without regard for their social class or political beliefs, are effectively disturbed and fractured. In other words, politics proper is necessarily partisan and consequently have divisive effects on people who would otherwise remain one and undivided in their catholic faith and pursuant multilateral Christian relationships.
That is why priests and bishops for that matter may and should even dutifully address the socio-moral maladies brought about by politics per se adversely affecting their respective communities and/or countries according to the social doctrine of the church. But they are expressly and definitely enjoined not to engage in politics proper which cannot but be partisan and wherefore necessarily divisive of people.
The social teachings of the church such as on the primacy of truth, justice and consequent peace, the inherent value of human dignity and pursuant human rights, the common good and human welfare of all citizens, the integral human development and substantive party of socio-economic progress for all people irrespective of their race, color and creed, and many other realities in the order of nature—all these key church social teachings are a political in nature and are wherefore the concern of priests and bishops alike.
Said pivotal social teachings of the church are mandated not only by light of faith but also by force of reason. Priests and bishops have wherefore to preach and teach these truths relevant to life here and now—not only speak about grace, the angels, heaven and the like, pertinent to the hereafter and beyond.
The signal question is if a priest by becoming merely “political” is already a divisive figure in the church, what more if a priest in fact becomes a politician?! And this is precisely the actual major issue that has immediate relevance to the priest recently turned a politician by becoming a governor. Could he be instead the uniting figure of the catholic community in the province concerned—and thereby prove no less than spokesperson of the 5th Assembly of the whole conference of the Latin American Bishops, as pitifully all wrong and all wet?
30 May 2007