Catholic groups unite to endorse own senate bets

MANILA, Philippines --- "The Catholic Church is not dead. It is alive and it has power," El Shaddai's Bro. Mike Velarde declared today as he spoke in behalf of religious organizations representing the White Vote Movement, which seeks to encourage Catholics to vote for candidates who can help in its mission to preserve and protect the life and the Filipino family.

After consultation with the clergy and bishops, the religious groups comprising the White Vote Movement have decided to make a difference in the elections by endorsing six to eight senatoriables whom they will announce later this week.

Velarde said they have the support of the Catholic Church as Archbishop of Cebu Jose Palma has sent a letter mandating all parish priests to choose their coordinator who can join as representatives for the movement.

Velarde acknowledged that politics must be separated from the Church. "But the Church is composed of people. Without people, there's no government. A king without people is no king. A president with no people supporting him is no president," he said

He said they will endorse candidates who can carry the principles of the Catholic faith and represent the voice of the faith in the Congress and Senate.

"We are still in the process of examining their (candidates) background, track record personality, commitment to life and family and their position on the issue regarding the Reproductive Health Law (RH Law). We are concerned about the future of our families. The purpose of the RH Law is to control the population, but it is not the solution to the country's problem. But the law has been enacted so we must gather together and see to it that persons of integrity with commitment to life and family will be elected," Velarde said.

The movement is divided into three groups -- education, information and circle of discernment. They will evangelize in their own parishes, spread the word through the information group while the "Circle of Discernment" group will look into candidates who are deserving to be included in the White Vote ballot.

He revealed that they will be issuing their own sample ballots that will guide the voters. Velarde clarified, however, that they will endorse but will not impose. "We will not impose but we will guide Catholic voters in choosing the right candidates," Velarde said.

The El Shaddai leader disclosed that there are about 3,000 parishes that have joined the movement and they are hoping that there would be at least 2,000 votes per parish.

"I believe that we can muster enough votes that could make a difference in the coming election. We will encourage volunteers to go back to their communities and campaign for the candidates who will be chosen for senators," Velarde said.

This marked the first time that different religious organizations have come together for one purpose: to unite for good not only for this coming elections but for future elections as well. The movement is supported by 34 lay family and life organizations. These are the Adoracion Nocturna Filipina, Archdiocesan Council of the Laity of Lipa, Archdiocesan Council of the Laity of San Fernando, Pampanga, Bukas Loob sa Diyos Covenant Community, Catholic Teacher's Guild, Children of God Our Father of All Mankind, Christian Family Movement, Children of Mary/Vicentian Marian Youth, Christ's Family Mission Movement, Couple for Christ Foundation for Family and Life, Diocesan Council of the Laity of Kalookan, Diocesan Council of the Laity of Novaliches, Diocesan Council of the Laity of Tarlac, El Shaddai/DWXI Prayer Partners, Familia Community, Family Renewal Movement, Family Rosary Crusade, Kababaihan ng Maynila, Knights of the Columbus-Luzon jurisdiction, Live Pure Movement, Lord's Flock, Marriage Enhancement & Team Services, Mother Butler Mission Guild, National Sandigan Foundation, Papal Family of Kalookan, St. Peter Community, St. John Apostle & Evangelist Association, Teodora, Teresian Association, Women of Asia for Development and Young Christian Workers of the Philippines.

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