Filipinos Exhorted to Pray for May Elections

MANILA, Philippines, FEB. 20, 2004 ( Catholic bishops urged the faithful to pray in a special way for the Philippines’ upcoming elections.

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Archbishop Fernando Capalla of Davao, president of the episcopate, has asked bishops to recite the «Oratio Imperata» beginning Ash Wednesday, and at all the following Sunday Masses through election day, May 10, with daily recitation during the week of elections, AsiaNews confirmed.

An «Oratio Imperata» is an ancient tradition of the Church in which the bishop asks his community to unite in prayer for a special intention, explained Father Genaro Diwa, director of the Manila Archdiocese’s Liturgical Commission.

The prayer, prepared by the bishops’ Commission on Liturgy, asks God to enlighten the Filipino electorate through the Holy Spirit to be «inspired by love of country and genuine concern for its future.»

Written in English and Filipino, the prayer will invoke protection for the people from all forms of violence, coercion, coup attempts and anarchy.

Six candidates are running for the presidency, including incumbent Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Leading the polls a week into his campaign is actor Fernando Poe Jr., a high school dropout who has American citizenship. The Supreme Court has yet to declare his Filipino citizenship, a requirement to run for a government seat.

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