.- Bishop Francisco Ulloa of Cartago in Costa Rica expressed regret this week over the recent ruling by the Electoral Supreme Court, which censured him for reminding Catholics they could not support political policies that go against Christian principles, and said it would not silence the bishops in their mission to preach the faith.
The May 3 ruling by the court was against Bishop Ulloa and in favor of the lawsuit filed by the Movement for a Secular State. The Bishops’ Conference of Costa Rica expressed solidarity with Bishop Ulloa and “the actions he carries out in defense of his fundamental rights before the competent offices and agencies.”
In an interview published by the newspaper La Republica, Bishop Ulloa said, “According to the ruling, we bishops would not be able to express an opinion about aspects that support the common good. This is the great danger, as many could cite our opinions and then file a lawsuit claiming we are violating the ruling. This is the critical and dangerous part of this ruling.”
“I will continue speaking out when necessary, defending God’s interests, guiding our people, because that is my mission,” he said. “This norm needs to be reviewed because it is discriminatory and in reality disregards human rights.”
After noting that he learned of the ruling while out of the country, Bishop Ulloa said it caught his attention because “it is based on a 19th century constitutional norm. And it has its origin in that struggle between the Liberal Party and the Church, when a party called the Catholic Union existed. Today this norm is outdated, and canon law itself specifies that clerics have no business participating in any particular party or supporting or rejecting a specific candidate.”
Bishop Ulloa thanked the bishops' conference for its support and said, “This ruling not only affects me but all bishops, priests and even lay Catholics, as it forbids spreading material that invokes the religious sentiments of the people. This is very serious, as it limits the freedom of expression of everyone, and in addition any statements that could be misinterpreted.”
Likewise, he said, “The accusation that I have engaged in political propaganda is not true. I did not refer to any political party or to any candidate. Moreover, the elections hadn’t taken place yet, all the candidates had not announced their campaigns, and the purpose was never to refer to politics itself.”
“The context was about a proposal to eliminate the name of God from the Constitution and other similar proposals. I felt in conscience the need to bring this to the attention of the people, as this is a majority Catholic country,” the bishop said.