ANTIPOLO City, March 1, 2013—Probably contrary to public perception, the Bacolod diocese’s ‘Team Patay/ Team Buhay’ campaign is not one bishop’s expression of political disapproval, but rather the lay people’s.
Telling the inside story of how the diocese came up with the ‘Team Patay / Team Buhay’ campaign at the 4th Episcopal Commission on Family and Life (ECFL) national conference last Wednesday, Fr. Ronaldo Quijano said, the idea of campaigning against pro-RH candidates kept on cropping up again and again among ordinary Catholics during a series of seminars and workshops after the passage of the RH Law.
“We tried to saturate the whole diocese [with workshops on the implications of the RH Law on Catholic life] the whole month with the same theme coming from their sharings: ‘Team Patay’, ‘Team Buhay’… It is coming from the lay faithful. The Holy Spirit is working through you,” Fr. Quijano, the diocesan family and life director of Bacolod, said.
According to Fr. Quijano, the passage of R.A. 10354 seemed to symbolize a clear demarcation line between pre- and post-RH fervor among Catholics in Bacolod that is re-energizing the Church.
He recounted to some 200 family and life coordinators and lay leaders how Bacolod Bishop Vicente Navarra resolutely told his clergy and leaders before posting the controversial tarpaulin, “I am willing to uphold everything that has been written there.”
Adding light-heartedly, he said, “If they send me to prison for standing for the sanctity of human life, I want you all to be with me!”
To which, according to Fr. Quijano, they replied, “Bishop we will be with you. We will evangelize the prison guards!”
From the priests to the pastors
Apparently, the move to post the ‘Team Patay/Team Buhay’ tarpaulin was not a spur of the moment.
Starting with pastoral letters on the RH issue that were read during the Advent season, last December 24 and 31, wave after wave of seminars and workshops on the teachings of the Church on life, human sexuality, and marriage were organized in Bacolod.
The first batch, which Bishop Navarra personally called for, included seminarians, priests and other members of the religious.
Not long after, parochial school teachers, liturgical ministers, acolytes, mass collectors, and even choir members also attended the seminar, which discussed the reasons behind Catholic opposition to the RH Law.
Soon, even members of the Bacolod media, doctors and nurses underwent the workshops.
It was also during this time that the diocese decided to put up big red flags in all the churches to signify a collective protest against the law.
Eventually, the dominantly Catholic anti-RH bloc would find unlikely allies in 30 Protestant pastors and their families, who committed themselves to the same cause as the Church.
Finally, the workshops reached the lay associations, organizations and the grassroots through the BECs (basic ecclesial communities).
Jesus, our PR man
All throughout, according to Fr. Quijano, the diocese would feel the support of its bishop – mostly, silent but steady.
“[Bp. Navarra’s] presence was already a big support for the pro-life movement. [He] did not speak a word, but his presence is like a big bang,” Quijano said.
Quijano ended his 10-minute sharing by saying the diocese is intensifying its campaign even more in the coming months.
“We are on the side of truth and Jesus is our PR man,” he said.
The diocese of Bacolod sent one of the biggest delegations to attend the recent ECFL conference with 55 participants flying in to attend the event last February 26- 28 at the St. Michael retreat house in Antipolo City, Rizal. [Nirva’ana Ella Delacruz]