MANILA – A retired Catholic prelate reminded church servants, including priests, who are running for public office that the Church law allows them to run only in “extreme cases” and under the guidance of their bishops.
Novaliches Bishop Emeritus Teodoro Bacani Jr. said there are extreme cases when a priest can run but must secure the permission of the bishop.
“Without the permission of his bishop, there are consequences for his performance as a priest," he said in an interview over Church-run Radio Veritas on Tuesday, without going into details.
The bishop added that as a citizen, a priest has the right to lead but as a church servant, his involvement in politics is just to guide the electorate in choosing their leaders.
“We priests should be involved in politics but we should not be political. We are involved as priests and not as politicians. Ours is not to hold government power but to guide the people to live and choose the right leaders,” Bacani said.
Canon Law 285 states that clerics are forbidden to assume public offices, which entail a participation in the exercise of civil power.
“Without the permission of their ordinary, they are not to take on the management of goods belonging to lay persons or secular offices which entail an obligation of rendering accounts. They are prohibited from giving surety even with their own goods without consultation with their proper ordinary. They also are to refrain from signing promissory notes, namely, those through which they assume an obligation to make payment on demand,” the Code of Canon Law states.
Radio Veritas reported that three priests are aspiring to be elected in the May 2022 polls -- Fr. Granwell Pitapit of the Diocese of Libmanan, Camarines Sur, running as mayor; Fr. Emmanuel Alparce of the Diocese of Sorsogon, running as councilor in Bacacay, Albay; and Fr. Emerson Luego of the Diocese of Tagum, seeking the mayoralty post in Mabini, Davao De Oro.
If elected, Bacani said they must improve service to the people and expand the mission of the Church through good governance.
"When you sit in a position where you are good at governing, it is not enough that we are good priests. We must also be good at governing according to the duty assigned by the people who choose their leaders," Bacani added. (PNA)