Editorial: Dealing with pro-RH bill Catholics

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Thursday, June 9, 2011

PERHAPS Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma doesn’t know how to be diplomatic.

Or maybe he just couldn’t come up with an accurate spur-of-the-moment statement on a controversial topic. Still, the manner he dismissed dialogue overtures by a Catholic group doesn’t sound good.

“Catholics for RH are not authentic. They are not recognized as Catholics,” Palma told Sun.Star Cebu when asked about the plan by a group calling itself Catholics for Reproductive Health (C4RH) to hold a dialogue with him on the controversial Reproductive Health (RH) bill.


Palma is anti-RH bill while C4RH is for the measure.

Perhaps what the archbishop meant is that C4RH does not represent the Catholics, and not that the group’s members are not Catholics.

The first point is in line with the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) issuing a disclaimer against C4RH. The second point doesn’t have a leg to stand on.

For an archbishop to declare C4RH members as not Catholics only on the basis of their stand on the RH bill is to give imprimatur to the objectionable acts done by some priests and religious fanatics against those who oppose their RH bill views.

Palma is surely more level-headed than that.

But one can understand his dismissive attitude regarding Catholic groups that contradicts the Church’s official stand on the RH bill. The CBCP, of which Palma is the vice president, surely wants to present a united front of Catholics as efforts to pass the RH bill in Congress reach its crucial stage.

That can be done without resorting to what even objective observers refer to as bigotry of Catholics in the RH bill debate.

To be fair with the Church, some of its leaders have been calling for sobriety even as it vigorously opposes the passage of the RH bill. Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas’s pastoral statement issued last month is an example.

“We want to make a plea for greater charity even as we passionately state our positions on this divisive issue,” Villegas said. “At the end of the heated debates, we will all be winners if we proclaim the truths we believe in with utmost charity, courtesy and respect for one another.”

Well said.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on June 10, 2011.


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