By Raïssa Robles
The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines President, Archbishop Socrates B. Villages, issued today the statement below to “encourage our Catholic faithful to maintain respect and esteem for the Supreme Court.”
Monsignor Villegas is the same church leader who had equated contraception with corruption two years ago. [You can read more about his “contraception is corruption” speech here.]
He does not explain why Catholics should continue to respect and esteem the Court despite its ruling allowing a reproductive health law to be in the country’s statute books and declaring it to be “not unconstitutional” for the first time.
In reality, the Supreme Court failed to please both sides of the dispute but both parties are putting a brave face and a positive spin to it. Still, the ruling tilts the field slightly for the proponents of the reproductive health law.
However, the battle is not over. The battlefield has just changed.
And Monsignor Villegas intends to be in the thick of the fight. Here is his opening salvo:
I encourage our Catholic faithful to maintain respect and esteem for the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court has decided on the RH issue based on existing laws in the Philippines.
The Church must continue to uphold the sacredness of human life, to teach always the dignity of the human person and to safeguard the life of every human person from conception to natural death.
Although the Supreme Court has upheld the constitutionality of the RH law, it has truly watered down the RH law and consequently upheld the importance of adhering to an informed religious conscience even among government workers. It has also stood on the side of the rights of parents to teach their children.
We cannot see eye-to-eye with our pro-RH brethren on this divisive issue but we can work hand-in-hand for the good of the country.
On the part of the Church, we must continue to teach what is right and moral. We will continue to proclaim the beauty and holiness of every human person. Through two thousand years, the Church has lived in eras of persecution, authoritarian regimes, wars and revolutions. The Church can continue its mission even with such unjust laws. Let us move on from being an RH-law-reactionary-group to a truly Spirit empowered disciples of the Gospel of life and love. We have a positive message to proclaim.
April 8, 2014
+SOCRATES B. VILLEGAS
Archbishop of Lingayen Dagupan