Annulment, legal separation for rich only? Reform the process!—priest

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MANILA, March 29, 2015—If those favoring divorce push for its legalization allegedly because annulment and legal separation are too expensive for most Filipinos, an official of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has expressed surprise why these people are not lobbying to make the available process affordable, instead of trying to destroy a holy institution.

Fr. Jerome R. Secillano (Photo: Alicia Martinez)


“Even if they argue that it is for the pursuit of one’s rights and freedom to be out of a ‘hellish’ union, there are provisions in our laws which guarantee such. Now, if annulment and legal separation do not appeal much to couples that are on verge of separation because they take a long time, are costly, and burdensome, then why don’t our lawmakers pass a law to reform the process instead of adding another, that is, divorce,” Fr. Jerome R. Secillano told CBCP News in an interview.

The priest, who heads the Nuestra Señora del Perpetuo Socorro Parish in Sampaloc, Manila, made this observation in the wake of the renewed controversy surrounding the proposal to legalize divorce in the Philippines, a predominantly Catholic nation, as a “last resort” for couples having marital difficulties.

Against Christ

Lest the Church be misunderstood again for Her position, Secillano stressed this is not a case of “what the Catholic Church will or will not allow.”

“Very clearly, going against divorce is a matter that Christ Himself taught. It is a teaching that is solidly rooted in the Scripture,” he explained.

“The Church cannot simply support something that Christ Himself declared unallowable even when 99 percent of our population, as Cardinal Rosales said, are for it,” he added.

Family Code

The executive secretary of CBCP’s Permanent Committee on Public Affairs (PCPA) noted that the Family Code (Title 1, Chapter 1, Art. 1) views marriage as a “special contract of permanent union between a man and a woman,” testifying that the State recognizes its sanctity and dignity, which some legislators want to bastardize.

“If our laws very clearly protect marriage as a lasting and permanent union, I cannot understand why some of our ‘honorable’ lawmakers would want to make a mockery out of it,” he asked.

If forbidding divorce is not something Filipinos should be proud of, Secillano declared neither should they be ashamed of it.

“I challenge the lawmakers not to be moved by popular opinion. Vox populi is not at all times Vox Dei!” he added.

‘Dictates of the world’

In an earlier CBCP News post, retired Manila Archbishop Gaudencio B. Cardinal Rosales stated the Catholic Church cannot conform her teachings on divorce to the “dictates of the world,” reiterating a position she has held since the time of Christ.

Even if a new survey showed 60 percent of Filipinos want divorce made legal, the prelate said people cannot change God’s teachings to suit what they want.

Wrong = Wrong

“Even if it is 99 percent (surveyed favor divorce) what is wrong is wrong,” Rosales exclaimed.

According to him, the Church cannot change her doctrine on divorce given that it comes from the Divine Law, and those arguing for divorce are asking the institution to overrule God.

Asking the impossible

Meanwhile, Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Emeritus Archbishop Oscar V. Cruz seconded Rosales, saying pro-divorce camps are asking for the impossible in telling the Church to change her teachings.

“The Bible says what God has joined together let no man put asunder,” Cruz said .

“The Church is duty bound to observe and to promote the teachings of Her founder, and Her founder teaches that marriage is sacred. Whether it will win or not in promoting the Gospel truths, that’s not Her problem anymore. Her problem is to speak when things are wrong and to affirm when things are right,” he added. (Raymond A. Sebastián/CBCP News)

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