As a response to the July 2009 Pastoral Statement of the CBCP on Lay Participation in Politics and Peace the Tri-Com (Commissions: Social Action, Christian Formation and Worship and Liturgy) convened and discussed the mechanism on how to involve the laity this 2010 election. Thus a series of consultations were conducted among the leaders of every parish concerning their views on the matter. The discussion was guided by the following stipulated in the documents as follows:
1. “Those with the talent for the difficult and noble art of politics…should prepare themselves for it, and forgetting their own convenience and material interests, they should engage in political activity” (Gaudium Spes 75).
2. “Direct participation in the political order is the special responsibility of the laity in the Church…it is their specific task to renew the temporal order according to Gospel principles and values” (CBCP, “Pastoral Exhortation on Philippine Politics,” 1997).
3. Recently our beloved Pope Benedict XVI reminded the lay faithful of their “direct duty to work for a just ordering of society” and “to take part in public life in a personal capacity” (Deus Caritas Est 29).
September 3 and 4, 2009 the first consultation was conducted. There were 162 participants from the five vicariates in the diocese. The venue was the Samaria Cursillo House, Purok Malakas, Lagao. The participants were grouped and asked to assess and evaluate their participation in the previous elections. To name a few they actively participated in voter’s education, poll watching and other related activities as initiated by the diocese and adapted by the parishes.
Out of this first consultation, the participants expressed their frustration with the outcomes in the political scene. The option to involve in partisan politics came to the fore and discussed openly. To further discuss and understand what lay empowerment means the participants agreed to have another consultation.
Some agreements reached:
1. Call for lay leaders in the parishes to conduct series of consultation.
2. Consider during consultation possibility of identifying supporting local
candidates embodying the criteria posted by the Church, the 3Cs and 4Ms.
3. Refer to Bishop & priests for consent/support
4. Explore collaboration with civil society and other religions.
5. To reconvene.
Understanding of Lay Empowerment
On October 13-14, 2008, the second consultation was conducted in Samaria Cursillo House, Purok Malakas, Lagao, General Santos City and participated by 67 participants (at least three from every parish as representative of the three commissions). Parishes like Sto. Niño, T’boli and Milbuk were not able to send delegates. The consultation assessed the level of consultation conducted in the parish level as one of the deliverable in the first consultation. The lay empowerment was discussed reiterating the 2009 July Pastoral Letter. Three important biblical images drawn from Vatican II as a renewed understanding of church, namely: as the People of God, the Mystical Body of Christ and as the Temple of the Holy Spirit.
Given these two consultations as well as the result of the outcomes of sharing and workshops, active participation of the laity was encouraged and given a push but it has not yet matured. Thus, the group agreed to continue in parish level to conduct series of discussion, a circle of discernment and even to widen it to other members in society.
Non utilization of the resources of the parish like its facilities were made clear to the group. But since it is a matter of importance and politics is the domain of the laity they will take an active part. They really have to do it hastily since November 2009 will be the filing of Candidacy. They will then lobby the agenda of the people reflective of the criteria given by the Shepherds of the Church. (from DSAC).
Source: Communication from the Bishop (No. 551, November 06, 2009)