Monday November 8, 2010

Philippine Cardinal Sees ‘Head-on Collision’ between Govt. and Church over Reproductive Health Bill

By Thaddeus M. Baklinski

MANILA, November 8, 2010 ( – Retired Archbishop Ricardo Cardinal Vidal said the Church’s struggle to preserve and promote the values conducive to nurturing faith, family and life appears to be heading “towards a head-on collision” with those in the government who are pushing for the passage of the controversial Reproductive Health (RH) Bill.

“The issue not is not about claiming the power to dictate, but the protection of the values that hold our nation together” the 79-year old prelate said in an address before 500 delegates at the 17th Asia-Pacific Congress on Faith and Family held over the weekend in Makati City.

He noted that during the EDSA II (the popular uprising that peacefully overthrew Philippine President Joseph Estrada in 2001 and replaced him with Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo), “when the issue was political, and the goal was toppling a dictator or a corrupt leader, the Church was hailed as a force for reform and liberation.”

“Now that the issue is moral and much more proper to the Church’s concern, we are accused of using undue influence and interfering in politics,” Cardinal Vidal said.

The cardinal concluded his address by saying “it is this spectre of a society that has lost its moral bearings that keeps me from throwing in the towel even though I am now retired.”

The cardinal’s statement follows on the heals of an announcement by Bishop Nereo Odchimar, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, that the CBCP will consult legal and medical experts to help them prepare for a dialogue with President Benigno Aquino on the proposed reproductive health legislation.

“Since our major line is on morality, we would be enlisting help from the lay people who would be with us representing their specific expertise,” Bishop Odchimar said, explaining that lay experts in the demographic, economic, legal and medical aspects of reproductive health will be asked for their input.

This cooperation on the part of the laity would ensure that it is the “totality” of the church that is standing against the bill, and not just “the CBCP,” Bishop Odchimar stated, adding that the Catholic Church would continue fighting for the protection of life and the moral dignity of the family.

“For us it does not matter, whether we win or lose, we still have to preach the gospel (and) preach the position of the Catholic Church so that it might not be said that if the RH bill would pass, it is because the bishops did not do anything, that the bishops did not speak out,” he said.

Bishop Odchimar indicated that no date has been set for the anticipated meeting between President Aquino and the Catholic Bishops’ Conference.

See previous LSN coverage:

Philippine Bishop Says Excommunication for President Benigno Aquino ‘a Possibility’

Philippines President Says Government Will Provide Contraceptives to the Poor

Philippine Bishops on Sex-Ed/Abortion: State Must Obey Moral Law

Bishops Urge New Philippine President to Shun ‘Contraceptive Mentality’

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