By the grace of God we live in an independent nation and have a democratic form of government. It is the serious obligation of each and every citizen to be vigilant that these blessings be not lost or diminished, especially in these times when false ideas of the power and authority of the State are so prevalent. “From day to day it becomes more and more evident how needful it is that the principles of Christian wisdom should be borne in mind, and that the life, the morals, and the constitutions of states should be wholly conformed to them.” (Leo XIII – “Sapientiae Christianae”)
We, the Catholic Bishops’ of the Philippines, neither favoring any party nor sponsoring any specific candidate, deem it our grave duty to recall to you, the members of our flock, your very serious obligations in this matter.
This nation shall soon go to the polls to elect legislators and other officials of the government. It is the precious right, as well as the grave duty, of every citizen to cast his or her vote. And that right and duty must be exercised in an intelligent and Christian manner. On the duty to vote, our present Holy Father Pius XII, on March 16, 1949, stressed: “The exercise of the right of suffrage is an act of grave moral responsibility at least when it treats of selecting those who are called to give to the country its own constitution and laws, particularly those laws that touch, for example, the sanctification of feast, matrimony, the family, the school, the regulation of the multiple social conditions according to justice and equity. It belongs to the Church, therefore, to explain to the faithful the moral duties which derive from this electoral right”. (Acta Apostolicae Sedis, May 7, 1949, p. 187). We are currently engaged in the process of registering electors, a process which conditions the exercise of the right to vote. Any undue interference with this process, therefore, is an unchristian tampering with the right to vote unjustifiable in any circumstance. This should be evident to any one with even the slightest notion of the grave moral character and consequences of the right of suffrage. What these are, we here state for the guidance of all entrusted to our care.
Cast your vote “coram Deo ” (in the sight of God), in the consciousness that you will have to answer to God for the way in which you exercise this duty. For upon the manner in which you exercise it will depend, in the final analysis, the prosperity and the very life of this nation.
Study carefully the platform and the principles of the various political parties. Diligently search into the character of the various candidates. It is not sufficient that a man’s public life seem clean and upright. If a man’s personal life can not stand examination in the light of Christian principles and morality, then he cannot be trusted to bear worthily the duties and powers of a legislator or public official. “The Church cannot give countenance or favor to those whom she knows to be imbued with a spirit of hostility to her; who refuse openly to respect her nature of things, connect the interests of religion with those of the state.” (Leo XIII – “Sapientiae Christianae”)
The norm for judging a man worthy of your support is the true interests of God, of the Church and the State. “It is fit and proper to give support to men of acknowledged worth, and who pledge themselves to deserve well in the Catholic cause, and on no account may it be allowed to prefer to them any such individuals who are hostile to religion.” False principles, a disregard for the sacredness of the marriage vow and the obligations of family life, a blindness to prevalent social injustices, these are the things which will yield the death blow to our democracy and to our freedom.
As your Pastors we exhort you to exercise your power of suffrage courageously, freely, intelligently, in a Christian manner. To sell your vote is sinful; to use it to put into power evil men is gravely wrong; to refrain from voting will make you answerable before God. The obstruction, in any manner, of the free exercise of this right and duty we denounce as a crime before God and against the Nation.
Catholic citizens and all men of good will, protect and guard this sacred right of yours. Go to the polls on election day and exercise your power of suffrage in a manner befitting your dignity as sons of God, brothers of Jesus Christ and citizens of this free nation.
“This is not now the time and place to inquire whether and how far the inertness and internal dissensions of Catholics have contributed to the present condition of things; but it is certain at least that the perverse minded would exhibit less boldness, and would not have brought about such an accumulation of ills, if the faith ‘which worketh by charity’ (Gal. 5:6) had been generally energetic and more lively in the souls of men, and had there not been so universal a drifting away from the divinely established rule of morality throughout Christianity.” (Leo XIII – Ibid.)
For the Catholic Hierarchy of the Philippines:
(Sgd.)+GABRIEL M. REYES, D.D.
Archbishop of Manila
Manila, October 2, 1951
Back to: CBCP Documents