MANILA - The Archdiocese of Manila has clarified that Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle did not endorse any candidate for the 2019 midterm elections.
In an interview with Church-run Radio Veritas on Friday, Fr. Roy Bellen, commissioner of the archdiocese’s communication office, said the cardinal was only endorsing the process used by a lay group in coming up with a list of candidates to vote for the elections.
“What he is endorsing is the process of discernment that each person can do as they prepare and choose candidates to vote for the coming election, as example made by the People’s choice movement,” Bellen said.
This after several personalities on social media shared a list baring names of senatorial candidates who are allegedly being endorsed by the cardinal.
The list included Mar Roxas, Chel Diokno, Samira Gutoc, Gary Alejano, Erin Tañada, Neri Colmenares, Florin Hilbay, Bam Aquino, Romulo Macalintal, and Grace Poe.
The same set of candidates were earlier endorsed by the People's Choice Movement, a purely lay group organized by lay Christian leaders.
In a circular dated May 7, 2019, Tagle urged priests to share the process undergone by the People's Choice movement, but there was no mention of endorsement for the candidates backed by the group.
"I urge you to share this initiative of the lay faithful with the lay groups, youth organizations, circles of discernment in your parish as a guide to their own discernment," Tagle said in the circular.
Fr. Ellen clarified that the result of the group's discernment may differ.
"What the cardinal is emphasizing and giving importance is the personal experience of discernment and taking full responsibility of their choices in voting. Thus it becomes a choice that is informed, prayerful and product of discernment," the priest explained.
The Catholic Church in the Philippines has never officially endorsed candidates, but several members of the Church's hierarchy have done so in the past in their personal capacity.
Recently, El Shaddai, a Catholic charismatic group led by evangelist Bro. Mike Velarde, released a list of candidates that they will be supporting for this month's senatorial elections.
The list is made primarily of candidates from Hugpong ng Pagbabago, with a mix of some independent and opposition candidates.