A FEW days ago, I posted in my Facebook page a short piece regarding open endorsements made by priests. Is this allowed? I was also reacting to a friend, who's a clergy of one of the Visayan dioceses who raised the same question (but whose persuasion is different). Actually, he was just reacting also to certain priests who are members of the Catholic Theological Society of the Philippines (Dakateo), who are now open in their support for Mrs. Robredo.

I would like to repeat my FB post to make it officially published. This is what I said:

"The question concerning 'priests endorsing politicians' is not new. In a country where even the hierarchy has been involved in politics in explicit ways even to the point of being partisan, the question is not only outdated but also answered. The answer that I am referring to does not come from canon law or theology but from the fact that we are a democracy, and the Church has a role to play in such a political system. No less the Church through its magisterial texts has affirmed and re-affirmed the value of democracy. Although the moral value of democracy is 'not absolute' (note that at a certain point in its history the popes were not fully in favor of democracy) but there is no debate, at this point, that current and mainstream Catholic social teachers are in harmony with the values and principles of democracy."

Among the reactions that my post received was: "what if a priest would make an error in his endorsement?" The one who gave this comment, perhaps, had in mind the possibility of a candidate becoming corrupt in the process of performing his duties. This is not a new problem and more so is the question not without a historical case.

In 2001, Jaime Cardinal Sin and then Apostolic Nuncio to the Philippines Antonio Franco, stood in front of Mrs. Gloria Arroyo who was sworn into the presidency by former Chief Justice Hilario Davide. This is not a secret. The major dailies of the country perfectly captured two high ranking prelates present before Mrs. Arroyo's oathtaking. But here's what's more significant. Arroyo rose to power in 2001 not by elections but by succession because Joseph Estrada was made to resign (constructively in the words of the Supreme Court). One of the major players of the Erap Resign Movement was the Church or to be more specific the Archdiocese of Manila (supported by some other bishops and members of the clergy and the religious).

In 2005 Mrs. Arroyo was involved in the "Hello Garci" scandal. Allegedly, she cheated her rival the late Fernando Poe, Jr. Much more, she became more controversial because of the NBN-ZTE deal and the way she handled protesters against her administration. When Noynoy Aquino became president, the bishops were criticized, in front of Pope Francis, "for their silence" on matters of corruption during Gloria's time.

Did the bishops, especially Cardinal Sin make an error in his decision to "side" with Gloria Arroyo in 2001. Was the CBCP wrong in its support for Cardinal Sin, which, in retrospect, also contributed to the clamor that pushed Estrada out from office?

The answer to the above question is not easy to determine. Canon lawyers can only go as far as citing the law. Neither is there a clear-cut answer to this in theology. A safe answer would be: "for the clergy to stay out of politics." But is this realistic? Even the Gospel says that we are "in this world but not of this world." Our destiny may be "life eternal" but "this life" must first be lived and its battles must first be fought before we can speak of one another as "good and faithful servants."

May be continued...