Dispute Over Church Politicking Roils Philippines

A political party in Manila has sued a Roman Catholic archbishop and four other religious leaders for allegedly urging their followers to vote for certain candidates for public office.

In mid March, Archbishop Jaime Cardinal Sin answered the party's lawsuit, saying that he merely expressed political opinions protected by the country's constitution and never called on his parishioners to vote for a specific candidate. In a four-page answer to the political party's lawsuit, Sin said he had neither urged nor required Filipino Catholics to cast ballots for favored candidates.

The Social Justice Society, the political party bringing the lawsuit, maintains in its suit that Sin and other religious leaders violated the principle of church-state separation by endorsing candidates and calling on their flocks to vote for chosen candidates.