04 June 2010

Will President Aquino of the Philippines receive 'the grace of office'?

President-elect Benigno C. Aquino III of the Philippines

Ma. Ceres P. Doyo, one of the top journalists in the Philippines, raised this question in a front-page story in the Philippine Daily Inquirer, the most widely read broadsheet in the country, on Sunday 23 May. Her article also appears on her blog, Human Face by Ceres. Human Face is the name of her weekly column in the same paper:

IN SPIRITUAL LANGUAGE it is called “the grace of office.”

Could presumptive president-elect Sen. Benigno Aquino III and the nation that has apparently elected him by a landslide count on that?

It is said that when God invites or calls an individual to undertake a task, He also provides him the grace to carry out that task or calling.

“The grace of office” has often been used in the context of a religious vocation, especially for those in leadership positions, their imperfections, weaknesses and reluctance notwithstanding.

Biblical times and even contemporary history have seen ordinary persons rise to the task, strengthened only by their belief in God’s calling and their faith in the accompanying grace that would help them carry out their destiny.

There were those who rose and fell, as there were those who fulfilled their mission with humility and obedience.

You can read the full article, with the comments of various theologians in the Philippines, here.


I don't recall anyone raising the question of 'grace of office' when David Cameron was chosen as prime minsiter of the UK after the elections there on 6 May, four days before the elections here in the Philippines. Mr Aquion, known as 'Noynoy', has not been officially declared the winner but there is no doubt whatever that he is the choice of the people. Though he didn't reach 50 percent he got more votes than the second and third candidates together.

St Thomas More (1478-1535)

Politicians are often held in disdain and in many cases there is good reason for that. But the Christian politician, like everyone else, is called to become a saint. the patron saint of politicians and lawyers is St Thomas More. Here in the Philippines most elected officials at higher level are lawyers while teachers sataff the polling booths. In Ireland a huge percentage of members of the parliament and senate are teachers by profession.

Above left, Alcide De Gasperi (1881-1954), right, Robert Schuman (1886-1963)
Below, Julius Nyerere (1922-1999)

I'm aware of at least three 20th century politicians whose causes of beatification have been initiated, President Julius Nyerere of Tanzania, Alcide De Gasperi, post-war prime minister of Italy, and Robert Schuman, post-war prime minister of France, the latter two considere the founders, with Konrad Adenauer of Germany, of the European Economic Community that grew into the European Union.

Robert Schuman once said of St Columban, from whose life journey this blog takes its name, that he was 'the patron saint of all who seek a United Europe'.

Gaudium et Spes, the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, one of Vatican II's most important documents, speaks at length on the place of politics in the life of the Christian and the Christain community. Here is one brief extract from No 73: It is clear, therefore, that the political community and public authority are founded on human nature and hence belong to the order designed by God, even though the choice of a political regime and the appointment of rulers are left to the free will of citizens.

God has certainly called Noynoy Aquino to serve the people of the Philippines as president for the next six years. This does not mean that he cannot make any mistakes. It simply means that the Holy Spirit will guide him if he asks for that guidance - and if we ask for that grace for the new president.

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