MANILA, April 8, 2011â€” After 25 years in Rome, one of the countryâ€™s three living cardinals returned to the Philippines to be one of the voices in the churchâ€™s campaign against a birth control measure.
Retired Jose Cardinal Sanchez said he canâ€™t just stay in Rome while his fellow Filipino bishops are fighting hard against the controversial reproductive health (RH) bill.
The bill, he said, which requires the government to make a comprehensive range of contraceptives more widely available to the public, is a â€œdestruction of Christian family.â€
â€œI left Rome to come here in the Philippines precisely [because] of these problems the country is facing especially on family,â€ Sanchez said.
â€œIâ€™m 91 years old already but I said I want to go home to the Philippines and somehow use my voice in the pastoral life of the church,â€ he said.
Sanchez claimed the bill, if passed, is just the beginning of more â€œimmoral â€œand anti-Christian laws.â€
â€œI only pray that the Filipinos become more aware of thisâ€¦ we have our tradition and that is protecting our family from the beginning,â€ he said.
Sanchez noted that Christian families, not just in the Philippines but across the world, are faced with serious threats.
He said the church hierarchy must do something to strengthen again the faith of Christian believers by intense preaching.
â€œLetâ€™s strengthen the faith among the faithfulâ€¦ let us preserve faith in the Philippines and letâ€™s protect the Christian family,â€ he said.
Aside from making public statements and holding rallies, he said, the churchâ€™s continuing education against the RH bill would better be done in private way.
â€œThe priests are precisely for this to preach the Gospel person to person,â€ he said. â€œThis is the best way of communication where he can talk to everybody with heart and conviction. The church needs to preach now more than ever before.â€
Sanchez arrived in Manila last December and is reportedly residing in the country for good. He currently stays with a community of religious sisters in Novaliches, Quezon City.
He was first seen in public during the massive church-organized prayer rally against RH bill at the Quirino Grandstand in Manila last March 25.
A native of Pandan in Catanduanes, he is the 5th out of six Filipino cardinals produced by the country from the time of Pope John XXII including the late Rufino Cardinal Santos, Julio Cardinal Rosales and Jaime Cardinal Sin.
Aside from Sanchez, the two other living cardinals are Manila Archbishop Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales and retired Cebu Archbishop Ricardo Cardinal Vidal.
After serving as bishop in several Philippine dioceses for many years, Sanchez was appointed as Secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples in the Vatican in 1985 by the late Pope John Paul II.
He was made a cardinal in 1991, and also became, a month later, Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy. He retired from this position on June 15, 1996. (CBCPNews)