Catholic White Vote Movement. 6 million votes is doable!
MANILA: Don't ask Bro Mike Velarde if there is a Catholic Vote. He'll say, "I'll show you." Here is a scene in a Saturday gathering in Parañaque City of the El Shaddai members numbering around 500,000:
Bro Mike: "Sino ang Catholic sa inyo?"
El Shaddai: "Lahat!"
Bro Mike: "Who will vote sa eleksyon?"
El Shaddai: "Lahat!"
Bro Mike: "'Yon ang Catholic Vote!"
Actually, I invented that merely as a joke, but on second thought, when I look at it again, I see that the joke is not simply on Bro Mike; the joke is on us Catholics.
My Catholic Vote joke implies 4 things:
(1) The Catholic Vote is not united.
(2) The Catholic Vote is not championed.
(3) The Catholic Vote is not targeted.
(4) The Catholic Vote is a powerful force.
I'm talking here of the Catholics as voters. They don't have a voice; what they have are many a voice. Too many voices spoil the vote.
"There were those who said that there's no Catholic Vote," Bro Mike said at the event. "I want to thank Congressman Lagman for saying that because, if not for him, I won't be here" (familyandlifeupdate.com). So, the launching of the Catholic White Vote Movement is Answered Prayer for Catholics. "We will prove that there is really a Catholic Vote," Bro Mike said. "The Catholic Church is not dead. It is alive; it has power" (09 April 2013, tribune.net.ph).The elections will be on 13 May 2013. "And we the people compose that power ... It's time to let the public know that there is such a vote that's coming this coming elections and in future elections" (Patricia Ongsiako, 08 April 2013, solarnews.ph).
What about the separation of Church and State? "The Church and the State cannot be separated entirely because we are the Church and we are the State," Bro Mike said (Ongsiako, as cited). "We the people form the government. Without the people there is no government. Without the people there is no Church at all." He said the bishops are free to guide the Catholics in their dioceses with general guidelines or a specific list of preferred candidates.
I believe all that. I also believe all these:
(1) The Catholic White Vote will unite the Catholics.
Truth to tell, the logo is a divine revelation (see image), and the choice of color to signify the movement is perfect!
"The color white affects the mind and body by aiding in mental clarity, promoting feelings of fresh beginnings and renewal, assisting in cleansing, clearing obstacles and clutter, and encouraging the purification of thoughts and actions" (Jennifer Bourn, 05 December 2010, bourncreative.com).
I love the image of the Holy Family on yellow! I note that the White Vote logo, image & words, is actually yellow on white. While there is no clutter, yellow is overwhelmed by white. Here, yellow ribbons are not defined by selfish political interests but surrounded by purity of thoughts and actions.
The Movement is a fresh beginning. Never in the history of the Church in the Philippines have the Catholics publicly declared a unity like this. All for One, One for All. All Catholic groups to work for the same purpose: Victory of pro-Church candidates, especially the Senators. It is to the Senate where proposed legislations finally go to die. Or fly.
Never has the Church been threatened like this. The first major and successful assault by the State on the Church was the passage of the Reproductive Health Bill into Law. With the passage of Republic Act 10354, known as "The Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012," the cherished sanctity of family and treasured sacredness of life as Filipinos know them are now under attack by modern warriors armed with bullets disguised as medicines for mothers. This Health Act promotes promiscuity - disrespect for the female of the species, now treated as object of conquest. It encourages abortion - the fetus is not considered "life" and therefore is disposable, which means you can literally get away with murder!
Since the Catholic clergy themselves are prohibited from taking part in partisan politics, the job of fighting for the Church now belongs to the Catholics themselves. In the first place, it is the people who make up the real Catholic Church. It is the people who must choose their political leaders.
(2) The Catholic White Vote will produce Catholic champions.
"Vote for Family. Vote for Life." Here is the fullest list (41) I can gather of the Catholic lay organizations that have joined the White Vote Movement (the list is mainly from whitevote.org):
(1) Adoracion Nocturna Filipina
(2) Archdiocesan Council of the Laity of Lipa
(3) Archdiocesan Council of the Laity of San Fernando, Pampanga
(4) Bukás Loób sa Díyos Catholic Charismatic Covenant Community
(5) Catholic Doctors' Guild
(6) Catholic Teachers’ Guild
(7) Children of God Our Father of All Mankind
(8) Children of Mary
(9) Christian Family Movement
(10) Christ's Family Mission Movement
(11) Council of the Laity of the Philippines
(12) Couples for Christ Foundation for Family and Life
(13) Diocesan Council of the Laity of Kalookan
(14) Diocesan Council of the Laity of Novaliches
(15) Diocesan Council of the Laity of Tarlac
(16) El Shaddai DWXI Prayer Partners
(17) Ex Seminarians for Life
(18) Familia Community
(19) Family Renewal Movement
(20) Family Rosary Crusade
(21) Family Rosary Crusade - Youth Ministry
(22) Focolare Movement
(23) Holy Name Society of the Philippines
(24) Kababaihan ng Maynila
(25) Kilos Laiko
(26) Knights of Columbus - Luzon Jurisdiction
(27) Legion of Mary
(28) Light of Jesus
(29) Live Christ Share Christ Movement
(30) Live Pure Movement
(31) Lord’s Flock
(32) Marriage Enhancement & Team Services
(33) Mother Butler Mission Guild
(34) National Sandigan Foundation
(35) St John Apostle & Evangelist Association
(36) St Peter Community
(38) Teresian Association
(39) Vincentian Marian Youth
(40) Women of Asia for Development
(41) Young Christian Workers of the Philippines
Today, the leaders are the heads of the Catholic lay organizations that have joined the White Vote Movement, like Raul Garcia who is President of Bukás Loób sa Díyos, Ma Corona Salcedo Romero who is Director of the Catholic Teachers Guild, and Frank Padilla who is Servant General of Couples for Christ Foundation for Family and Life. But they are not necessarily the ones to emerge as Catholic champions. Heroes are born - out of the crucible of fire.
And the aftershocks of the White Vote Movement will be felt beyond the 13 May 2013 elections. Catholic Champions will find ways to defeat RA 10354; they will find ways to stop the legalization of abortion, euthanasia, divorce and same-sex marriage in the Philippines. The State is not going to destroy the Church as it has done in the United States.
(3) The Catholic White Vote will discern the worthy.
Discernment precedes endorsement. Archbishop Antonio J Ledesma said in a pastoral letter that the Catholic bishops "commend and support lay initiatives to form circles of discernment to choose worthy candidates" (facebook.com).
In a press conference for the launch of the White Vote Movement in Parañaque City, Bro Mike said, "We're still in the process of examining their backgrounds, their commitments to family and life" (Rainer Allan Ronda, 09 April 2013, philstar.com).
The names of candidates endorsed will be by batches. The first batch was announced on Saturday, 13 April, and comprised the following candidates for Senator (Vito Barcelo, 14 April 2013, manilastandardtoday.com):
Aquilino Pimentel III
The discernment is by a panel. It includes personal interviews; who may be invited are those who oppose divorce, same-sex marriage, euthanasia, and abortion. After the interviews, the candidates are asked to sign a covenant before they are formally endorsed (Ongsiako as cited).
(4) The Catholic White Vote will show the power of the Catholic Vote.
Bro Mike is the spokesman; Ms Aurora Santiago of the Council of the Laity of the Philippines is convenor of the movement (cbcponlineradio.com). Bro Mike is the natural choice as the face of the White Vote Movement because his own Catholic renewal movement has 7 million members.
Is it doable? The minimum target is 6 million votes. Bro Mike said there are about 3,000 Catholic parishes in the country; if every parish yields only 2,000 votes, already that's 6,000,000, "enough to ensure victory of pro-Church candidates" (Corabelle Guevarra, 10 April 2013, bayanihannews.com.au).
"I think that's doable," Bro Mike said. "I believe we can muster enough vote to make a difference this coming elections" (09 April 2013, cbcpnews.com).
The Catholic White Vote Movement was announced at a press conference at the College of Divine Wisdom at the Amvel Business Park in Parañaque City on Monday, 08 April 2013. That day is the Feast of the Annunciation to the Blessed Virgin Mary. How fitting! About the divine Annunciation, here are excerpts from Luke 1: 26-38 (New Revised Standard Version) to encourage the Catholic faithful about this earthly annunciation:
Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.
Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.
You will conceive in your womb and bear a son. He will be great.
How can this be since I am a virgin?
The Holy Spirit will come upon you.
For nothing will be impossible with God.
Here I am, the servant of the Lord.
Let it be with me according to your word.
Let it be with us!