CEBU CITY -- Cebu Archbishop Ricardo Cardinal Vidal confirmed receiving cash donations from presidential candidates and other politicians who ask for his blessing.

But Vidal said that although he receives the money, he doesn’t keep it for himself but donates it to the Archdiocese’s charity arm to be used for its projects.

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Vidal said the money he receives from politicians is not meant to buy his vote, but out of good will.

Vidal, who was present in Wednesday’s press conference organized by the Dilaab Foundation for the launch of the “Vote God” campaign, also told reporters that some aspirants, particularly the presidential candidates, continue to ask for his support whenever they visit Cebu.

The prelate said that some officials would give him the cash donations themselves. Others would send the donation through a staff member.

However, Vidal refused to reveal the amount of the donations he received and give the names of the donors.

Vidal said that upon receiving the money, it would take him a while to decide on whether he would receive the money or not.

“It’s a long discernment on my part,” said Vidal.

He would then donate them to the Cebu Caritas Inc. to fund the Archdiocese’s charity projects, such as feeding of the poor and providing livelihood for needy families.

But Vidal said that despite his influence, he remains neutral and will continue to refuse to endorse anyone as this would forfeit his privilege of being a poll watcher for the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) and the Cebu Citizens’ Involvement and Maturation in People’s Empowerment and Liberation (C-Cimpel).

“I preserve my neutral status in the PPCRV and C-Cimpel,” said Vidal.

Also, the prelate said that although his intention is to pray for the officials to have a good life, some of them would sometimes misinterpret his giving of blessings.

“All of them would come to and would ask for my blessing, but they think that they are being endorsed by God,” said Vidal.

Since the start of the national campaign, almost all of the presidential candidates, except Ang Kapatiran party standard bearer JC delos Reyes, had asked for Vidal’s blessing.

Vidal recognized that the Catholic Church has a great influence over all sectors in the country, including the government.

But even his “influence” has limits, as he can only give recommendations to officials on what they should do.

“But my recommendation is just a suggestion, and I will never feel bad if they would reject my recommendation,” said Vidal. (JKV/Sun.Star Cebu)