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the CBCP Secretariat.  For Press Release.

The  Position of the CBCP team on the study of the HB 4244 as  proposed by Malacañan  is summarized as follows:

  1. The  HB 4244 has good provisions (building hospitals, maternal and children’s health  care, rights of the poor, education, etc.); however these are interwoven –  packaged with – the bad provisions.  By  the term bad provisions is meant,
    first, those portions of the bill which will promote and legalize  contraceptives as means of population control (contraceptive pills, and gadgets  which have abortifacient effects, sterilization procedures, etc.) these are  widely acknowledged as having serious adverse consequences on human health and  lives, especially those of the mothers, mothers-to-be and of the new human  lives that are formed at fertilization.  Second, deemed bad provisions
    also are those that seek to establish a mindset and a value-system that are  secularist, materialistic, individualistic and hedonistic in the guise of  development and modernity, but which in effect are hostile to human life, the  family and religion.  The bill abuses the  meanings of “rights”, “choice”, “freedom” and “responsible parenthood” even as
    these trample on the religious and moral exercise of conscience.  Since bad  provisions are present in HB 4244, the Bishops reject the bill in its entirety.
  2. The  Philippines does not need this bill.  All  the good provisions it contains are already mandated in the Constitution, and  are already programs of the government agencies concerned.  These simply need to be implemented through
    aggressive and sincere policy enforcement.
  3. Since  public funds will be used to promote HB 4244’s contraceptive agenda (hidden  behind the funding of construction of hospitals, maternal health programs, and  the like). The Bishops object to the passage of the bill.
  4. The  Philippines is a sovereign state.   Government should not yield to pressures coming from the treaty  monitoring bodies of the UN such as the ICPD and the CEDAW to legislate certain  rights that have not been contemplated nor intended in various international  instruments.  It should not be pressured  to comply with the MDG agenda, which uses a disturbing “reproductive rights”  approach in fostering its 8 goals.  Moreover, it is only a declaration.
  5. Inasmuch  as President Benigno Simeon Aquino has already publicly declared his intention  to implement his own 5-point agenda on responsible parenthood (RP), the Bishops  do not see any reason to further undertake a serious study/dialogue on HB 4244  with the administration as was proposed by President Aquino himself.  HB 4244 and President Aquino’s 5-point RP  agenda are deemed to be basically the same.

–  Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, May 10, 2011

Download *.pdf copy of the document here:  CBCP Team Position on HB 4244


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AS the outgoing CBCP Permanent Council welcomes the incoming Permanent Council, I wish to express my profound gratitude to the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) for entrusting to me the presidency of our conference for two consecutive terms from 2006 to 2009.

The effective management of any institution depends largely on the day to day working of its Secretariat and subordinate personnel. We have such in the CBCP, working along with 26 independent and interdependent Episcopal Commissions concretizing the CBCP Vision and Mission.

The objectives of the CBCP include among others the formulation of general decrees, pastoral policies and doctrinal declarations to enlighten and guide people’s consciences in meeting emerging challenges and new problems arising from changes in society (Cf. Constitituion, Art. 1, Sec. 2).

Let me review what the CBCP had articulated in our effort to shepherd and guide our country in the last four years through our Pastoral Letters, Statements and Exhortations.
2006. The CBCP declared the year 2006 as a “Year of Social Concerns” under the auspices of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary. [cf. “Renewing our Public Life Through Moral Values” Pastoral Statement , January 29, 2006].

At that time we observed that economic benefits were not being sufficiently shared with the poor, that apathy and cynicism in politics, and loss of trust in political leaders, have taken hold of the mind and hearts of many Filipinos. The root cause of this crisis, we said, is the erosion of moral values. Among the responses we proposed was the promotion of a spirituality of public service, integrity and stewardship. But we believed that even our best efforts in addressing the problems will come to nothing without the help of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary. (2006 was the 150th Anniversary of the Feast of Sacred Heart instituted in 1856.)

Other social concerns we identified were the mining issues, the alleged “Peoples’ Initiatives” to change the Constitution (which did not push through because of the vigilance of the citizens), the controversial “Da Vinci Code,” the notorious Fertilizer Fund Scam and the spread of Small Town Lottery or STL. Two breakfast fellowships with Christian Church Leaders and some government officials were held to share our common concerns.

The commitment of the Church would consist in building in our land “a civilization of love” (Centessimus Annus, 10), by building character through honesty and integrity, by building capacity through empowerment of the poor, and by building community through formation in the spirituality of citizenship. [Pastoral Exhortation “Building a Civilization of Love” May 11, 2006].

The Year of Social Concerns gave emphasis on the importance of the Social Doctrine of the Church as integral part of our evangelizing ministry, as emphasized in Pope Benedict XVI’s first Encyclical “Deus Caritas Est.

The burning issues which were being discussed were: the family under siege by the reproductive health bills, the prospect of charter change, the controversial impeachment process, which did not occur, the clamor for the reform of COMELEC, advocacy contra extra-judicial killings and endemic corruption in public and private life. [Shepherding and Prophesying in Hope, July 9, 2006]
2007. In January 2007 the CBCP recalled the 40th anniversary of the Rural Congress of 1967 which came to the crucial conclusion that “The Church must go to the barrios.” The greater number of the poor are in the rural areas. Therefore, attending to the rural poverty would be to help lessen the urban poverty. The CBCP said that the one big means of alleviating rural poverty is through a determined, vigorous and honest implementation of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP). [Pastoral Statement: The Dignity of the Rural Poor, January 28, 2007].

In 2007 the CBCP also commended the group of lay faithful who worked with great enthusiasm and dedication for the May 2007 elections. These lay groups were the PPC-RV, NAMFREL, NASSA-VOTE CARE, Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan, the Catholic Media Network, Legal Network for a Truthful Election (Lente). These dedicated groups undoubtedly contributed to the emergence of a new political consciousness among the electorate. Vigilance, volunteerism and coordinated action characterized their work. We advocated for Electoral Reforms through revamp of the COMELEC, the holding of those responsible for anomalies in past elections as accountable to the people, and the modernization of the electoral system in time for 2010 Election, continuing education of voters, the cleaning and publication of voters’ list long before election. [Pastoral Statement, on the 2007 National Elections, July 8.]

The CBCP endorsed a one year journey “Towards the Second National Rural Congress” (July 16, 2007). In this year we commemorated the centenary of the Episcopal Consecration of Bishop Jorge Barlin (1906), expressed concern on the nation’s housing problems and on the Human Security Act vis-à-vis terrorism.
2008. In 2008 the CBCP stated that the “darkness in our situation” which consists in the subordination of the common good to private or personal good is due to the lack of a social conscience. The CBCP said: “To journey to the light, we need first to realize that we have contributed not a little to the common malaise – because of the decisions we have made, decisions that flowed from what we have become because of our unconcern, inaction, apathy, often thinking only of our interest. And so with little sense of the future of our country, we vote for people we should not vote for. . . We have to confess that corruption is in truth our greatest shame as a people.” (Pastoral Letter “Reform Yourselves and believe in the Gospel” (Jan. 27, 2008)

There is need for personal and communal conversion towards a social conscience. “This conversion is for all of us: laity, religious, priests and bishops.” We reiterated the call for “circles of discernment” in all sectors or levels of the community, in order that through communal and prayerful discernment, the roots of corruption may be discovered and destroyed. [Pastoral Statement, Seeking the Truth, Restoring Integrity, February 26, 2008].

As part of the celebration of the NRC-II, we advocated the extension of CARP with reform. “Abandoning the agricultural sector will not only threaten the farmers but also imperil food security itself. Conversely, distributing land to small farmers will provide equitable economic opportunities on the rural area and eventually reduce poverty and unrests.” (Agrarian Reform, May 18, 2008). Important highlights of 2008 were the launching of the Year of St. Paul and the holding of the Second National Rural Congress on July 7-8, 2008 in San Carlos Seminary, Makati.

A special plenary assembly was held on November 14, 2008 in order to articulate the CBCP opposition to the Reproductive Health Bill 5043. (Pastoral Statement “Standing Up for the Gospel of Life”)

In 2008, there was held a series of Bishops – Legislators’ caucuses on Rural Concerns and on Family and Life Issues. There was also held a seminar on the Theology of Pope Benedict XVI.

2009. At the NRC-II the rural poor were given the opportunity to articulate their concerns. It was an opportunity for the church on various levels to listen and discern her specific role in accompanying the rural folk in their journey; the small farmers, landless workers, fisherfolks, indigenous people, rural women and rural youth. (Pastoral Exhortation: God Hears the Cry of the Poor, January 25, 2009).

At the Rural Congress we declared that in the fight against graft and corruption, we should encourage our lay faithful to accompany and support upright public officials in their efforts to serve the people in transparency and truth. We further declared that “we shall direct church institutions and organizations to be more engaged in works of solidarity, justice and charity for the poor in rural areas.” Scripture warns us: “He who shuts his ear to the cry of the poor will himself also call and not be heard.” (Prov. 21/13)

In June of this year 2009, we declared the post-Pauline year as the Year of the Two Hearts of Jesus and Mary for Peace-building and Lay Participation in Social Change, inspired by St. Paul’s reflection on “Christ as ambassador of Peace and Reconciliation” (2 Cor. 5/18-20; Eph. 2/12-18). In this year of the Two Hearts “We challenge our Catholic Laity to take the lead in the task of moral renewal towards a deeper and more lasting change in the Philippine society … urging (them) to give a concrete expression to Christian discipleship through responsible citizenship.”

What a providential coincidence, the Year of Two Hearts which the CBCP announced for the Philippines has also been declared by Pope Benedict XVI for the Universal Church as “Year for Priests” with the theme “Faithfulness of Christ, Faithfulness of the Priest,” in commemoration of the 150th Anniversary of St. John Marie Vianney. Pope Benedict XVI has articulated the purpose of this Year for Priests: “The Church needs holy priests,” holy priests who will guide the lay faithful in their participation in the renewal of church and society. In response to the Pope’s call for the Year of Priests there will be held the Second National Congress of Priests in January 2010.

We see how the hand of God is guiding the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines in this last four years: we placed 2006 the Year of Social Concerns under the auspices of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary. And this year in June we declared the Year of Two Hearts for Peace and Lay participation in Social Change.”

As shepherds and guardians of the flock, our reading of the “Signs of the Times” goes on as we have been doing. Our advocacies for the good of the church and our country continue. In our conference, no one can ever be an isolated performer. The 10 member Permanent Council and the 30 Chairmen of the various Commissions, Committees and Offices together with the Secretariates have all been working together each with no little sacrifice, like a chorus singing the Magnificat or the Gloria in Excelsis.

I had the distinct privilege of presiding at our CBCP General Assembly. I am sorry for whatever mistakes or failures I may have committed during my watch. But I was as confident as the CBCP was that it is the Lord that watches over our Conference.
My gratitude to the CBCP can never be as great and as profound as the trust that it has gifted me with.

Archbishop of Jaro

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The CBCP joins the nation in mourning and condemning the massacre of 36 innocent civilians, mostly women, including drivers and journalists. Whether it is politically motivated or not, it is still a crime against respect for life and peace and order in the community.

We join the appeal to rightful authorities to restore justice in the situation. We likewise appeal that the common good as well as respect for human life be uppermost in the campaign for political ends.

May this painful situation be a strong reason for further pursuing the ongoing peace process in Mindanao.

Archbishop of Jaro
CBCP President
November 24, 2009

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AFTER the destructive typhoon Ondoy that hit Manila and Central Luzon, and with still on-going work of compassion and rehabilitation, we are warned by the news of possibly stronger typhoons in the coming days or weeks. We are still facing a litany of storms, according to Pag-asa.

We are impelled to pray that the Lord save our country from further calamities due to typhoons, floods, drought, volcanic eruption and other calamities occurring in increasing number and intensity.

In this month of October especially, we recommend that the Rosary be prayed by individuals or by families or by communities in parishes for the above intention as well as other intentions. Our countrymen, still reeling in physical anguish and emotional distress, which many of them hide in their smiles and sense of humor, need also to be prayed for.

With the World Apostolate of Fatima and the Apostleship of Prayer and other religious (“praying”) organizations, we appeal not only for material assistance for the victims of Typhoon Ondoy, but also for prayer, repentance and penance. I have just been from an Asian Meeting of the World Apostolate of Fatima in Seoul, Korea. From the messages of Fatima, it seems there is some deep connection between moral evils (the “reign of sin”) and the calamities that descend on a people. Our Lady of Fatima’s exhortation to prayer includes the threefold cry “Penance, Penance, Penance,” which echoes the message of Jesus “Repent and believe the Gospel” (Mk. 1/15).

Then Cardinal Ratzinger, who is now Pope Benedict XVI, had said “The heart open to God, purified by contemplation of God, is stronger than guns and weapons of everykind.” Typhoons also, and floods, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions are an invitation for opening our hearts to God. “In the world you will have tribulation, but take heart: I have overcome the world” (Jo. 16/33). The hope-filled message of Fatima invites us to trust in her Son’s promise.

In the destruction wrought by typhoons, we must see not so much God “lifting His hand to punish” but moral evil having its “trail of harm and ruin” because we have destroyed God’s world.

We are challenged to open our hearts to God’s warning signs. Should we not at least ask ourselves if all the corruption and lies, the loss of integrity and the mounting “destruction of morality and moral values” (cf. Chief Justice Puno and Senator Salonga) in the present government and the present calamities: is there a connection? Is God not giving us “hints” regarding the future and even the coming elections? Nagtatanong lang kami! We do not have the answer! That is why let us also pray!

Archbishop of Jaro
CBCP Presidnet

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THE pictures we see in the newspapers and television screen in these days, after the epic flood brought about by devastating tropical storm “Ondoy” have many stories to tell which are beyond words. Many of the victims of super typhoon Ondoy has a scary experience to narrate.

While we keep in our imagination the pictures that invite our deepest sympathy, and even listen in our hearts to their desperate cries for help, the victims agonizing and angry complaints at the slowness or absence of response from Disaster Preparedness Program, let us see in this situation a call to everyone for compassion. If there were no graft and corruption in our government, our government would be more prepared to respond to such crisis.

Typhoon Ondoy’s destructive path may be the worst flood in more than half a century. Through the ravages of nature in the past, the Filipino sense of compassion, which we also call “bayanihan,” has been called forth. The pictures we have seen in the past few days are pictures of Filipinos responding to the call for compassion, of people willing to “suffer with,” people with the spirit of “bayanihan.”

We pray against typhoons, earthquakes, floods and other natural calamities. But when they do occur, the heroism of the Filipino comes out. We salute, for example, to that 18-year old teen-ager, Muelmar Magallanes, who lost his life after saving more than a dozen neighbors, the last of whom was a six-month old baby.

This one heroic example is an inspiration of our appeal with the CBCP National Secretariat for Social Action. The CBCP NASSA has been mobilized to help with its limited resources the victims of the flood. Relief goods have started to be gathered and distributed to the flood-affected provinces around Metro Manila. Caritas Manila has started to respond to the flood victims in Metro Manila. Compassion is drawing many Filipinos to unite with their unfortunate brothers and sisters. Social Action Centers of other Dioceses may join the campaign by sending to CBCP NASSA whatever they may collect. Profound gratitude to the Knights of Columbus Supreme Council and the US Bishops’ Conference – Catholic Relief Services. They were among the first to respond.

Other Institutions like the RED CROSS, have also started to respond to the call for compassion, as we have seen in GMA network and ABS-CBN network in the spirit respectively of “KAPUSO” and “KAPAMILYA.”

We bend our knees in prayer for salvation against natural calamities, but when they do come, we are not so helpless as not to respond with heroism. We have said it before and we say it again “In the Church, no one is so poor as to have nothing to give, and no one is so rich as to have nothing to receive.” We are humbled by the crises that come to us. We pray to God and appeal for our neighbor.

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THE issue of good and evil in governance starts with responsible and irresponsible citizenship. Leadership in governance starts with leaders as citizens. Responsible citizens produce good leaders, good leaders produce good citizens. Leaders and citizens are linked to each other; they influence each other for good or evil, for better or for worse.

Leaders and citizens must work jointly for the common good. Sadly, however, the common good is very often being subordinated to private good, to the good of one’s own self, party or family.

While it is true that we cannot be blind to the evil or wrong around us, we must have the wisdom and fortitude to correct it.

We need to exercise our social conscience by owning our social evils and wrongs and by owning as well the tasks of fighting these, and of pursuing the common good, individually or collectively. Before condemning others, let us first look at ourselves, because we may be guilty of the same or similar. No person is completely evil that there is nothing we can do to correct him or her.

Corruption, we have said many times before, is the greatest shame and problem of our country. Our government has not eradicated it, because it is involved in corruption itself. Corruption is what keeps our country from the evils of graft and corruption.

To help pursue the good and fight evil, the CBCP has recommended and undertaken “communal actions,” we “pray together, reason together, decide together, act together towards a more vigorous work for good governance and a more active promotion of responsible citizenship in our society.” May I repeat here that in view of the national elections next year, “we call upon those who are competent, persons of integrity and committed to change to get involved directly in partisan politics and become candidates for political election, aware that the common good is above the good of vested interests. We remind the laity that it is within their right as their duty to campaign for candidates they believe to be competent, honest and public-service minded in order to reform our country.”

Our question that needs to be posed to all those aspiring for the presidency and other government elective positions is: how are you going to eradicate graft and corruption in your level of governance? We, citizens, are urged to examine their plans, and in conscience choose and support those who will lead us to the good, onward to the better.

+ Angel N. Lagdameo, DD
Archbishop of Jaro
President, CBCP
September 16, 2009

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WITH the introduction of the Reproductive Health Bill 5043, a.k.a. Reproductive Health Bill, in Congress, truth and morality, the value and dignity of life, family and marriage are sadly made to depend on human laws. That is what is implied in the Reproductive Health (RH) Bill presently under discussion in Congress.
It appears that Congress even plans to shorten the discussion in order to have the R.H. Bill passed before the end of October. We hope that the normal process of discussion and interpellation be observed, that the Congressmen who have signified to interpellate on the R.H. Bill be honored and given the opportunity to interpellate. To shorten the period of interpellation would give the impression that the passage of RH Bill is “lutong makaw”, not judiciously and sufficiently discussed.

As Catholics and Christians we are against the passage of the RH Bill 5043 of Congress for reasons we have already enunciated and I now summarize:

1. The Bill dilutes and negates Section III (1) Article XV of the Constitution which provides “The State shall defend the right of spouses to found a family in accordance with their religious conviction and the demands of responsible parenthood.”

2. The Bill seeks to legalize surgical procedures that the Catholic Church has denounced as immoral, except for serious health reasons: tubal ligation, vasectomy and abortion.

3. The Bill requires mandatory reproductive health education from Grade V to Fourth Year High School without consideration of their sensitivity and moral innocence. The moral law and the Constitution recognize the right of parents to be the primary educators of their children.
4. The Bill recommends having two children only per family as the supposedly ideal family size. There is no moral or scientific basis for this recommendation. It puts the State above the family. The natural right of couples to have as many or as few children as possible, pursuant to their understanding of responsible parenthood, is in our view already protected by Section 12, Art. 2 of the Constitution, which recognizes the “sanctity of family life” and protects the life of the mother and of the unborn.

5. The Bill states that those who “maliciously engage in disinformation about the intent of provisions of the bill” shall be punished with imprisonment and/or fine of P10,000 to P50,000. This includes those who will teach contrary to the bill (after it is passed) and speak about its immoral provisions. Such provision is a clear violation of the freedom of speech and of the right to religious conviction. Only totalitarian states have such policies.

We thus reiterate our categorical and unequivocal opposition to any attempt at controlling the exercise of the God-given rights of human persons to enter into married life, procreate and raise families according to the provisions of the Constitution and their religious convictions.

We appreciate and are grateful to the members of the Legislature who seek to understand the will of the Supreme Lawgiver whose laws are beyond our limited human competence to repeal or amend. We recognize and likewise thank the individuals and groups who support our pro-life, pro-women, pro-marriage and pro-family advocacy. We raise in prayer all their efforts for continued guidance and strength from the Lord and Giver of Life.

For the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines:
+ Angel N. Lagdameo, DD
Archbishop of Jaro
President, CBCP
September 16, 2009

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