.- The Bishops’ Conference of El Salvador has called on priests and religious to foster harmony among all Salvadorans and to abstain “from all active participation in politics,” as elections in the country draw near.
In a statement, the bishops said that “because of her universality and catholicity, (the Church) cannot attach herself to historical contingencies.” However, they also noted that as citizens, priests have the right to express a personal opinion and to exercise “in conscience” their right to vote.
The bishops urged Salvadorans to work for peace, unity and dialogue amidst the diversity of opinions in the country.
Archbishop Fernando Saenz Lacalle of San Salvador explained during a press conference that the statement is intended to keep politics out of homilies, which are supposed to “convey the voice of God and the teaching of the Church and not be part of partisan political campaigns.”
On January 18, 2009, voters in El Salvador will cast their ballots for the Legislative Assembly and the Central American Parliament, as well as for the mayors of 262 municipalities in the country. Presidential elections will take place on March 15.