MANILA, Dec. 11, 2012— The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines to the members of the House of Representatives who are against the reproductive health bill: Be not afraid.
According to CBCP president Archbishop Jose Palma, the lawmakers should not be afraid in fighting for what is right and moral amidst pressure from those pushing the population control measure.
“Amidst the many voices trying to influence the outcome of your deliberations, I call upon you in the words of our Lord first said to Abraham, ‘Do not be afraid!” Palma said. “Listen to what God is saying.”
The CBCP head also appealed on lawmakers to stand by the truth and not by their political parties as they vote on the controversial measure on Wednesday.
The archbishop of Cebu said no less than Pope Benedict XVI has already appealed to legislators on how to handle measures concerning basic human rights.
“These involve such things as the right to life, the right of married couples to found a family according to their religious beliefs and moral convictions, and to be the primary educators of their children,” he said.
“Here, as elsewhere, the truth must be the basis of the law rather than the result of legislation,” said Palma.
Fr. Melvin Castro, executive secretary of the CBCP’s Commission on Family and Life, claimed that Malacañang is pressuring lawmakers to favor the passage of the RH bill.
“We appeal to our legislators to rise above their party politics and resist the pressure of Malacañang. In the end, you shall be held accountable to God and to His people,” Castro said.
The members of the Lower House have agreed to vote on the fate of the RH bill tomorrow.
Several bishops are expected to come to the Congress to watch how lawmakers will vote on the measure.
Proponents of the RH bill said they welcome the presence of the bishops inside the plenary hall but warned against intimidating solons.
But according to Lipa Archbishop Ramon Arguelles, their presence in Congress is meant to show support to “pro-life solons” and not to intimidate them.
He also said that solons should have nothing to be afraid of with the presence of Church leaders if they have nothing to hide and if their consciences are clear.
Zambales Rep. Milagros Magsaysay, a vocal critic against the measure, said the presence of the bishops is a boost to anti-RH bill lawmakers.
She said that while they are threatened by Malacañang to withhold their congressional pork barrel allocations, the presence of church leaders would somehow compensate it.
“Our problem here is that we are up against a very powerful bloc… the party that provides funding for most of politicians in the country,” Magsaysay said.
“If the CBCP comes in full force, we are more motivated because we see that the Church is behind us as it will give us the necessary boost to vote with conviction,” she said.
Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle is also calling for a prayer vigil beginning this 6:30pm at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the patroness of the unborn, in Makati City.
“He (Cardinal Tagle) personally invites everyone to go to the Shrine for the vigil and/or the Masses,” said the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Manila (RCAM) in a brief statement.
The overnight vigil will run until Wednesday with Masses at 6 am, 8 am, 12 noon, 5 pm, 6:30 pm and 8pm. Cardinal Tagle will lead the 12 noon Mass at the Shrine. (CBCPNews)