.- Archbishop Oscar Julio Vian Morales of Guatemala is urging citizens to âvote in a serious, free, conscientious and well-informed wayâ in the upcoming presidential elections.
The archbishop said voters should not make up their minds on candidates based solely on television ads and sound bites. âWe need to learn about their lives and their examples â and above all â about what they have done for our country, about the past history of each candidate for the president and their staffs,â he said in a statement released May 2.
The presidential and congressional elections will be held September 11.
âTo abstain from voting of out of fear of making a mistake borders on indifference and social irresponsibility,â the bishop said. Deliberately casting an invalid vote âis even worse,â he added, âbecause it puts the responsibility in someone elseâs hands.â
âWe must be consistent with what we believe today,â the archbishop continued. âMay the Holy Spirit enlighten us so we might fulfill our duties. Let us discern with seriousness and prayer how and for whom to vote in the next general elections,â he said.
Among the candidates running for president is Sandra Torres, the ex-wife of Guatemalaâs present leader. The couple recently divorced so Torres could seek the office.
The country's constitution prohibits immediate family members from running for an office currently held by a relative.
Guatemalaâs Federation for the Defense of Life and the Family called the divorce âa mockery of the family.â
The country's bishops stated that âthe institution of marriage, as the foundation of the family and society, must not be subjugated to other interests. Therefore, the indissolubility of marriage, even in troubled marriages, is not negotiable.â