Velarde, Villanueva, Panlilio – “People of Religions” in Politics

This is one long comment i wrote in one blog and in the interest of the contemplative advocacy of this blog, i am reposting this in its expanded form. 

Religion and politics are really hotbeds of a team-up. While the Constitution does not necessarily prohibit clergies and preachers to run for public office, triggering some brows to spike of course, it does not mean that the contemplative dimension of spirituality has nothing to say about them. In fairness to the “religions,”  I quote Constitution expert Fr. Bernas here saying that the prohibition, or the technical meaning of “separation of Church and State” is the burden of the State and less on religions not to pass “laws which aid one religion, aid all religions, or prefer one religion over another” or that “no laws shall be passed respecting an establishment of religion.”

Back to the political involvement of the clergies, or people of religions for this matter. What turns out brows-spiking to me personally is not the unmitigated exercise of their political rights as citizens of the State, but the question of their field of commitment. Preaching or priesthood, like journalism and a handful of journalists who died on the field, is a vocation and a vocation demands a “lifetime” commitment through thick and thin because a vocation is grounded on a vision rather than function. An ordained, celibate priest to my opinion may have been married and still continue in his silent, unassuming ways to live the vision of a compassionate God in his personal, professional and family life. I doubt if this is readily possible in politics because too often, people who found their vocations in politics happen to stumble on it “accidentally” and not by sheer human self-interested ambition – Gandhi, Dag Hammarskjold, Mandela. To my opinion – the vocation of preachers is not to fix the political machines of the State. It is to live the vision of a loving and forgiving God no matter what the political weather is and for people to see this lived vision in their lives shown in their simplicity and not in power tripping with politicians, hoping, just hoping that people through their personal initiative (God is no God of coercion!) would be convinced that corruption for example is a form of personal insecurity and a failure of trust in a loving God. A great example was the late Bishop Oscar Romero who amidst the political chaos of his country, needed not run for a public office to “scandalize” the system and became the voice of a prophet and martyr for his people. Sure – people of religious vision may not succeed in their lifetime. They know it is not on their own powers nor timing that they rely on. But if people of religions think they can change the moribund system by their personal powers or influence, isn’t this stepping into the boundaries of God as they turn themselves into carved idols to be worshipped, burying themselves in self-justification for hearing the voice from the “Burning Bush”? When the truth is God is lost in the rubble of human ambitions; the vision is lost amidst their noisy self-justifications. Velarde gains the spotlight in contrast to how Jesus would sneak out of the crowd and hid in the silence of the hills! And so is the potential for real change because the truth is – one cannot really change oneself radically without relating to the real, self-forgetful, humble, self-effacing God. One may ask – where do those preachers-turned-politicians stand in the divine dynamic of self-effacement, self-forgetfulness, or humility? I thought this is the crucial question upon which to judge their decisions. The vision of a loving, self-forgetful, self-effacing God is the ultimate criterion for these people and the hunger for wealth or influence of these people seem contrary already to the vision.

What do you think?


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