In a few days the citizens of our Republic will go to the polls to choose, from among the candidates for office, those to whom they wish to entrust the conduct of their government. We have had occasion in the past to call to the attention of Catholics the importance of these elections; the fact that voting is a serious obligation; the necessity of having recourse to prayer that God may enlighten and direct our choice; the moral qualifications that a candidate for office must have to be worthy of public trust; the duty that each and all of us have of doing what lies in our power to keep the elections free, orderly and peaceful.
These exhortation have not ceased to be appropriate, and We repeat them with fatherly solicitude.
Fears have been expressed in certain quarters that the Catholic Church is taking an undue interest in the present elections, and may even go so far as to interfere with the processes of democratic government. These fears are groundless. We are amazed that they should ever have arisen.
As We have repeatedly stated – and We state it once again – the Catholic Church, as such, has no political ambitions. We say the Catholic Church as such, that is, as a religious organization; for it must not be forgotten that the members of the Catholic Church are also citizens, and as citizens, they have an equal right and duty with everyone else to participate actively in the public life of their country. We stress this point because there seems to be a curious idea abroad that priests and religious, and even lay people who belong to Catholic Action groups, are excluded from the effective exercise of the duties of citizenship simply because of their active participation in the Catholic apostolate. This is a totally false construction of the proper relationship between Church and State.
If this important distinction is borne in mind, it can be said, and it should be said, that the Catholic Church in itself has no political ambitions of any kind. It is interested, necessarily and vitally interested, in that this country should have a government that fulfills the essential object of all good government, namely, the common welfare and prosperity under a regime of justice, charity and peace in that those entrusted with the powers of government should recognize and respect the right of the Church to exist and to carry on its divinely appointed mission.
As for the particular individuals who are to occupy the elective positions in government at any given time, that is a choice which is entirely the concern of the citizens, both Catholic and non-Catholic. As long as the candidates elected to office are God-fearing, public-spirited men, devoted to the cause of good government and willing to respect the rights and liberties of the Catholic Church and other legitimate religious organizations, We are prepared to cooperate with them, to the full extent of our power, in the furtherance of all good causes that may be the common concern of Church and State.
Feast of All Saints Day, November 1, 1955.
For the Catholic Hierarchy of the Philippines:
(Sgd.)+JULIO R. CARDINAL ROSALES, D.D.
Archbishop of Cebu
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