BORONGAN, October 23, 2018—The bishop of Borongan told his priests to be cautious of the possibility of being used by local politicians to buy votes.
In a recent circular, Bishop Crispin Varquez exhorted his priests not to get involved in partisan politics so as “not to add to the confusion and division among parishioners.”
Varquez read the circular to the clergy and religious during the diocesan closing of the Year Clergy and Consecrated Persons held at the Bishop’s Residence in Borongan City on October 22, 2018.
He stressed that clerics “should not be an agent of “hukip” distribution, either directly or indirectly, and other similar activities.”
“Hukip” is a popular binisiya term which means an amount given to buy votes.
The bishop admitted that politics could be very divisive and could “draw a wedge even between close kinsmen and alienate even the most intimate of friends.”
“This is aggravated by the sad reality that many of our brethren, both among the candidates and among voters, are still immature in their political attitudes and behaviors,” he added.
Towing the social teaching of the Catholic Church, Varquez pointed out that priests must remain neutral and non-partisan and “become instruments of unity and peace before, during, and after the election period.”
The bishop admonished his priests to be “uncompromising when it comes to Christian doctrine and morals and zealous for the Church’s social teachings.”
Varquez further emphasized “we should exercise the necessary tact and leadership skills in order that we will be truly unifying pastors and spiritual fathers of our flock.”
The bishop gave specific and strict guidelines that must be followed by his priests.
The bishop decreed that “no special Mass or Blessing sponsored or requested by politicians is to be allowed.”
“Should any candidate or political party seek prayers or Mass intentions, they should be done within the regular Mass schedule and not as a separate special event,” he said.
“Clerics must observe extra prudence so that our ministries and the Church’s liturgical celebrations will not be unduly taken advantage of for the purpose of political mileage or spectacle,” he said further.
The bishop strongly admonished his priests neither to accept additional mass “stipends” from politicians or their representatives nor to give in to special perks or favors from them in the form of trips, social events, and the like.
In the end, Varquez encouraged his priests to remain as moral guardians and spiritual leaders by “exerting more pastoral creativity and enthusiasm in our evangelization of the political life of our country.” (Edmel Raagas/Este News)