“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” –Edmund Burke
This was the line that probably inspired the leaders that comprise the Sangguniang Laiko ng Pilipinas (Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines’ Episcopal Commission on the Laity), along with those who are heading the different volunteer groups rallying Catholics to vote responsibly, when the gathering to form the Lay Solidarity Coalition for the Preservation of the Filipino Family occurred last February 23, 2013 at the El Shaddai International House of Prayer in Amvel City, Paranaque. Most Reverend Jesse E. Mercado, D.D, chairman of the Sangguniang Laiko facilitated the said event.
“This is the time for the Church to gather and show our numbers,” Bro. Mike Velarde said as he exhorted the Laiko leaders that a unified effort must be pushed to ensure that good politicians are elected into office. Velarde is the leader of the charismatic group, El Shaddai.
“Nagsimula na ang laban sa Bacolod, nasanay na tayo na ‘di mangialam sa pulitika,” Velarde continued stating that since majority of the Filipinos are Catholics, “we are the state too.” It is to note that the Bishop Vicente Navarra of Bacolod announced last February 22 the candidates they are backing who they call “Team Buhay.” Those who Bishop Navarra included in the endorsed “Team Buhay,” were those who stood up for the faith in the recent passage of the Reproductive Health Bill, now called Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012.
Crossing the River Jordan
Reading the account of the Israelites crossing the Jordan River to reach the Promised Land after years in the desert, Velarde said that the same situation applies to where the Church stands today. “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do wonders among you,” he emphasized this particular verse in the bible from the book of Joshua. He further stated that Catholics need not to fear as they further this initiative to be involved in politics for the sake of marriage, family and life. “The Lord is with us as we cross this River Jordan,” he said.
“This is New Evangelization!”
Asked what the nature of the proposed coalition was, Bishop Jesse Mercado said that this lay initiative to “enter politics” was the Filipino Catholics’ response to the call for New Evangelization, especially in the advocacy of family and life. The New Evangelization is the call of Pope Benedict XVI to the Catholic faithful, focusing on “re-proposing” the Gospel to those who have experienced a crisis of faith. Bishop Jesse says that it is through this coalition that Catholics can be witnesses of the faith by putting leaders who know that through the preservation of family and life, our country shall see a just and humane society.
As he gathered the leaders of the organizations and movements during the afternoon session of the whole-day event, he suggested that a council of eleven be formed to discern the direction of the coalition. The group will convene again on March 9 to finalize the council.
The Call to Solidarity
Recognizing that there are different lay efforts to push for good governance, especially in voting for leaders in the coming elections, Bishop Jesse explained that the coalition seeks to unite all these movements to be the “guide” of the Catholic electorate. He explained to the more than 3,000 lay faithful present that the “crossing of the River Jordan” will be successful if everyone will unite to campaign for politicians who are pro-family, pro-marriage and pro-life.
Assuring everyone, Bishop Jesse added, “They say there is no such thing as a Catholic vote but now they will see that there is.”