MANILA, August 15, 2012—Like he has done in previous religious gatherings and mass mobilizations, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) President Jose S. Palma on Aug. 13 reminded the hundreds gathered at St. Peter Parish: Shrine of Leaders of the duty to constantly include the nation’s leaders in their prayers.
“I believe we are here to also pray for our government officials. Sabi nga ni Saint Paul, we owe our government officials respect, obedience, and prayer. And so we pray for our government officials in today’s mass,” Palma said in his homily during the mass offered for the victims of the recent flooding and for the enlightenment of legislators concerning the “reproductive health” (RH) bill.
“We have given them the mandate to serve us; they deserve our obedience and prayer.”
The celebration of the mass is, first of all, a sign of faith, he said. “We pray for the [calamity] victims and solicit support for them. I would like to believe we all love our country. We all love our people. We are sensitive to their situation.”
At the mass concelebrated with dozens of other [bishops and clergy], the prelate echoed the people’s sentiments of wanting to help the poor, to alleviate suffering and offer solutions. He explained that the proponents of the contentious bill, however, believe that it is through the proposed measure that the problems of the poor can be addressed.
“We say there are other solutions,” he said.
“If the purpose of the bill is for the common good, it would have been approved [by now],” he pointed out, emphatic.
Palma also stressed the need for respect and the recognition of freedom, saying that “If we respect their culture, why can’t we [Catholics expect the same] respect from them?”
“Can we at least ask for their respect of our tenets? That the law should not force us to live contrary to the faith,” the archbishop said.
Toward the end of his homily, he addressed the solons who were present at the mass and expressed optimism while urging that life-affirming principles be the guide in their decision-making.
“Let’s pray that when it comes to this basic issue… whether or not you said yes to the termination [of debates], forget about that now. This moment, we think… are we pro-RH or pro-life?”
The authors and supporters of House Bill 4244 have had to contend with growing opposition from family and life advocates, child development experts, and faith- and school-based organizations due primarily to billions in taxpayers’ money that will be poured into the procurement and promotion of contraceptive drugs and devices, some of which have been established as causing serious damage to women’s bodies.
According to lawyers, the population control bill also violates Constitution-guaranteed freedoms, one of which is the free exercise of one’s faith. (CBCP for Life)