San José, Costa Rica, Oct 30, 2013 / 04:09 pm (CNA).- Costa Rica's Electoral Supreme Court has said that the Church has the right to speak about social and moral issues, proclaiming its teaching freely in order to inform the nation’s voters.
The Catholic Church has the right to “take stances on the country's social problems, as well as to preach the faith with authentic freedom, teach its social doctrine, exercise an earthly mission without interference and issue moral judgments, even on issues related to public order and others of interest to it,” the ruling said.
In an Oct. 25 decision, the court rejected a lawsuit filed against the Bishops' Conference of Costa Rica over a recent document on the electoral process and democracy, which was accused of being detrimental to the freedom of voters.
The court said that what Costa Rican law prohibits “of Catholic clergy (and of the laity as well)” is engaging in religiously-motivated political propaganda or using religious beliefs as a means for such.
Such restrictions are intended to protect the free will of voters, the court explained.
However, after a careful reading of the bishops' document issued on Oct. 7, the court found that nowhere does it favor any one political tendency or group.
On the contrary, the justices explained, “The reflections of the bishops are limited to explaining their positions regarding fundamental issues of the national reality, which they base on quotes from documents related to the social doctrine of the Church.”
They found that the bishops were not using their authority to influence the Catholic vote and that their document was “purely informative.”
“It contains a series of assessments that, in the opinion of the bishops, should be taken into consideration when evaluating the political choices offered in electoral process of February of 2014, and it leaves it to the faithful themselves to freely, spontaneously and distanced from any religious orientation, chose their own leaders,” the court said in its ruling.