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Bacolod City, Philippines Tuesday, August 18, 2020
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Rock and Refuge
with Fr. Roy Cimagala
OPINIONS

Duty to evangelize politics

Rock & Refuge

Contrary to the view that clerics should be completely hands-off and quiet about politics, we need to realize more deeply that clerics, in fact, have the grave duty to evangelize politics just as they ought to do the same in all the other temporal affairs of men and women, like in business, the arts, sciences and technology, sports and recreation, even in fashion, etc.

They have to bring the spirit of Christ to bear on all these human concerns, because that spirit should be involved in everything that is human. In fact, it has to be made known that that spirit is supposed to be what is proper to animate all these human affairs.

I think that it would be wrong to think that evangelization should just remain in the level of the spiritual and the supernatural, or in the level of the theoretical. Clerics should have a working knowledge of how things go in these fields of human endeavor. Their evangelization should lead and cause some practical and concrete transformation in people and in the way they do politics and carry out their earthly responsibilities.

Except that extreme care has to be done so that this duty of evangelization is not turned into playing partisan politics. This, of course, is not easy to do since things can be confusing and we are always in the constant process of knowing things better. So, a lot of prudence and patience are always needed and a keen desire to clarify and help others should be kept and developed.

And when we, the clerics, happen to commit mistakes in this area, as when we overstep our authority, we should be humble and simple enough to acknowledge those mistakes and do the necessary corrections.

What is meant by evangelizing politics is that aside from proclaiming what is absolutely moral and immoral, it should foster an environment of frank and cordial dialogue among the different and even conflicting parties involved, keen desire with matching effort to pursue the common good, adherence to agreed rules of engagement as articulated in our legal and judicial systems, etc.

Of course, our human systems can never be absolutely perfect. They will always be a work in progress, always in need of updating, adapting, polishing, refining. We should learn how to live with that condition, and how to make the necessary improvements in them as we go along.

Let’s always remember that we are not expected to agree on everything. And part of evangelizing politics should be that we learn how to disagree without compromising charity and unity among ourselves.

It’s important that the channels of dialogue should always be open no matter how different and conflicting our views are. Thus, it is very advisable to be always friendly and in talking terms with everyone, no matter how in conflict our views are.

We should avoid rash judgments, reckless and inflammatory words, or any antagonistic action and gestures that can suggest and, worse, agitate people to have a recourse to violence, or an invitation to hatred, etc.

Also, putting labels or branding people as liberal or conservative, progressive or regressive, or fanatically sticking to party and ideological lines, while valid up to a certain extent, do not capture the whole dynamic of people’s real thoughts and intentions. We should be wary of habituating ourselves in them. They usually oversimplify things and give rise to unnecessary misunderstandings.

Everyone has to remember that in matters of opinion, like in many political issues, no one has all the good reasons. It’s important that we listen to each other, since everyone has a reason for his opinions and preferences, then study the issues well, before we make and defend our own positions.

The moment people do not talk to one another anymore, and, worse, are harboring ill-feelings and antagonistic attitude towards others, that’s when we are creating a toxic environment that is not healthy to our society. We should do everything to avoid this situation.*

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