Archbishop introduces a new program for voters

By Fr Wilmer Tria


Most Rev. Rolando J. Tria Tirona, OCD, DD, Archbishop of Caceres, will launch a new program for the Archdiocese in connection with the upcoming National Elections 2022 on November 20, the eve of the Solemnity of Christ the King, at Christ the King Parish, at 5:30pm. In his pastoral letter titled ‘May your Kingdom come,’ he calls it Catholic Citizenship Education and Engagement Program.


The former program was called Voters Education. However, the Prelate realized that such program only becomes relevant during the election period. He believes that there must be an ongoing formation for Catholics in order to participate actively in politics, not only during elections. So, instead of simply guiding the flock on how to vote wisely, he thought of consolidating all the ministries in the Archdiocese so that every formation program, whether on worship or on charity, whether on evangelization or on stewardship of creation, must lead to forming the lay faithful into becoming good and engaging citizens.


Rev. Tirona notes that the call to holiness entails the call to good and engaging citizenship. Earthly citizenship is an apprenticeship to heavenly citizenship. He warns the faithful of hypocrisy, which for him, is ‘the breeding ground of corruption and tyranny.’ He writes, ‘Today, evil leaders wear the masks of fake news and disinformation to hide their wickedness. They infiltrate all forms of media to revise history and build an image that the people will blindly trust.’


He chose the date to launch the program to remind the faithful that Christ the King is the one and only true King. Catholics must shun any form of canine loyalty to political clans. He acknowledged that ‘as citizens of this earthly city, we ought to obey human laws and public officials.’ However, ‘we must choose leaders who are faithful to our King and who obey His Laws.’ He continues, ‘While human leaders possess the powers of governance, such powers cease when the governed are prevented from publicly worshipping and obeying their Divine King.’

Further, ‘like the Apostles, we are all sent by our King to bring His Gospel to every corner of our society, especially to the oppressed and the marginalized.’ Again, the call to holiness requires that we live out the gospel by establishing the Kingdom of love, justice and peace.


The Vatican also celebrates on the Solemnity the World Youth Day and the World Day of the Poor. According to Rev. Tirona, this is timely because the program is designed to empower the poor and to give voice to the youth. All must be active participants in nation-building.


In the pastoral letter, the Prelate calls on ‘the different Ministry Clusters of the Archdiocese of Caceres, namely: Worship, Education, Social Services, Temporalities, Youth, Clergy, Laity and Family, and Ecology, to design, implement and sustain this program.’ The program shall be a work in progress. It shall be a product of synodality, of a Church that listens and recognizes ‘each and every voice as we form good Catholic citizens.’


He also calls on ‘the Church leaders, the clergy, the religious superiors, the school heads, the leaders of religious organizations and pastoral councils and the prayer leaders of the Saradit na Kristyanong Komunidad to collaborate and work together for an Archdiocesan-wide program implementation.’


Asked how he envisions the program, the Bishop said: “I treat it like a school forming good Samaritans. The Holy Father, in his recent encyclical Fratelli Tutti, expresses his desire to form Catholics who have genuine care for the victims of unjust structures in the society.


He ends the letter with the wish that every time Catholics recite the Lord’s prayer, they do it with passion and commitment so that His Kingdom may indeed come.