Catechism on Church and Politics by CBCP
- Concretely, priests, religious men and women, and lay people, i.e., the Church "must be involved in the area of politics when Gospel values are at stake" (PCP-II, 344). Specific roles for different members of the Church: PCP-II pointed out these roles. "The Church's competence in passing moral judgments even in matters political has been traditionally interpreted as pertaining to the clergy. Negatively put, the clergy can teach moral doctrines covering politics but cannot actively involve themselves in partisan politics. Religious men and women are also included in this prohibition" (PCP-II, 340). But lay people have competence in active and direct partisan politics. (PCP-II, 341).
- Why should priests, religious men and women refrain from involvement in partisan politics? The Church prohibits Clergy and Religious from involvement in partisan politics because they are considered the symbols of unity in the Church community. For them to take an active part in partisan politics, with its wheeling and dealing, compromises, confrontational and adversarial positions, would be to weaken their teaching authority and destroy the unity they represent and protect. Still, it must be admitted that sometimes even the teaching of moral principles is actually interpreted by some as partisan politics, because of actual circumstances (PCP-II, 343-344).
- What is the specific mission of the laity in politics? The mission of the laity is the same as that of the entire Church, which is to renew the political order according to Gospel principles and values. Such renewal by the laity is through active and partisan political involvement, a role generally not allowed to priests and religious men and women. The lay faithful (must) not to be passive regarding political involvement but to take a leading role. Moreover, the laity must "help form the civic conscience of the voting population and work to explicitly promote the election of leaders of true integrity to public office" (PCP-II, Art. 8, #1).
- Are there so called "Catholic candidates" or is there a "Catholic vote"? The Gospel does not prescribe only one way of being political or only one way of political governing (such as monarchical, presidential, parliamentary, etc.), much less only one political party or even one slate of candidates. No one political option can fully carry out the Gospel mandate of renewing the political order or of serving the common good. No one political party or platform or set of candidates can exclusively claim the name Catholic. Hence to Catholics there are many political options that the Gospel does not prohibit. Therefore, there is generally no such thing as a "Catholic vote" or "the Bishops' candidates". This is simply a myth. The Bishops do not endorse any particular candidate or party but leave to the laity to vote according to their enlightened and formed consciences in accordance with the Gospel.
- Is there any case when the Bishops can authoritatively order the lay faithful to vote for one particular and concrete option? Yes, there is, and the case would certainly be extraordinary. This happens when a political option is clearly the only one demanded by the Gospel. An example is when a presidential candidate is clearly bent to destroy the Church and its mission of salvation and has all the resources to win, while hiding his malevolent intentions behind political promises. In this case the Church may authoritatively demand the faithful, even under pain of sin, to vote against this particular candidate. But such situations are understandably very rare.
- Since politics is seen as "dirty", should not Catholic leaders stay away from politics? No, on the contrary they should involve themselves directly in partisan politics so that they can renew it and make it work for the common good. "Catholics in politics have to work in favor of legislation that is imbued with these [Christian] principles. Knowing that the wrong behavior and values are often rewarded or left unpunished, Catholic politicians have to put teeth to good legislation by making certain that the correct system of rewards and punishment be strictly enforced in public life".
Document signed by Bishop Oscar Cruz