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EDITORIAL - The fallacy of a Catholic vote

Is there really a Catholic vote? In a country like the Philippines, where Roman Catholics make up roughly 80 percent of the population, the quick and ready answer would naturally be that there is. But that answer needs to be qualified.

No way must the answer be served on a silver platter on Lipa Archbishop Ramon Arguelles who, without thinking, and without authority to speak for the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, threatened to set loose a Catholic vote against lawmakers who support the RH bill.

For one thing, national population is not the same as voting population. People of voting age in the Philippines (18 years old and above) make up only about 60 percent of its close to 100 million population.

That means only about 60 million are of voting age and are qualified to vote. However, not all people qualified to vote in the Philippines are registered voters. Only about 80 percent of qualified voters, or roughly 50 million, are actual registered voters.

And then here’s more: Not all registered voters actually turn out to vote. Based on most surveys and statistics, only an average of 70 percent — some 35 million voters — do show up in precincts during elections to cast their ballots.

As can be clearly seen, only about a third of the entire Philippine population actually vote. And if you factor in the fact that not all of these roughly 35 million voters are Catholics, the threat of Arguelles gets watered down even more.

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And that only involves cold and unfeeling numbers. The more crucial point to consider is whether Catholic voters, in the sense that they are Catholics by religion, are willing and able to mix their faith with their politics.

In other words, can they be commanded as a matter of faith to perform a purely political act. There has never been any showing that this has happened in the past. There is no showing it will happen now or ever.

For all the belaboring about a Catholic vote, nobody seems to have considered the fact that the very essence of Catholicism is Catholicism’s own best argument against a Catholic vote. For aren’t humility and forgiveness, not political threats, what distinguish God from Caesar?

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