MANILA, December 15, 2012—Catholic bishops across the country called on the faithful to support the Church in its stand against the controversial Reproductive Health bill. The measure was passed on second reading at the House of Representatives early Wednesday morning.
While the voting was too close for comfort, Malacañang is reported to have been lobbying for the support of 64 lawmakers who failed to join the voting last Wednesday night for the third and final reading scheduled on Monday.
Lingayen-Dagupan (Pangasinan) Archbishop Socrates B. Villegas, in a pastoral statement titled “Praise and Rebuke” to be read tomorrow in all 26 parishes, publicly commended lawmakers Gina de Venecia, Rachel Arenas and Leopoldo Bataoil “for voting against the Reproductive Health bill.”
“They are our heroic and exemplary representatives in Congress,” Archbishop Villegas said. He added the lawmakers “voted to stand up for life, for morality and decency and as God loving government officials.”
“We commend them for their courageous conviction and encourage you my dear Catholic faithful to support them with your prayers and make known to them your appreciation for their fidelity to our cherished Filipino Catholic values,” he added.
The 52-year old prelate said the controversial measure, if passed into law in its present form, “will put the moral fibre of our nation at risk.” He explained contraceptive mentality is “the mother of an abortion mentality.”
“The wide and free accessibility of contraceptives, even to the youth, will result in the destruction of family life and in greater violence against women,” he further said.
He cautioned lawmakers supportive of the controversial measures that it “will not take long for them to see the irreparable harm they will bequeath to the younger generation” because “those who mislead the young invoke divine punishment on themselves.”
He concluded by appealing to lawmakers to “leave to the young a legacy of decency and morality not promiscuity and moral corruption.”
With the results 113 in favor and 104 against with three abstentions, Archdiocese of Nueva Segovia (Ilocos Sur) Auxiliary Bishop William David Antonio said it’s not over yet. He said their focus is on the final voting scheduled on Monday, December 17.
“We continue to pray for our representatives and senators that they be guided by the Holy Spirit in casting their votes,” he said. He added they will continue forming the conscience of their people.
Bacolod (Negros Occidental) Bishop Vicente M. Navarra alerted the Catholic faithful in his 69 parishes and chaplaincies with the passage of the controversial Reproductive Health bill on second reading at the House of Representatives midweek.
The 73-year old prelate said he is indignant and disgusted with “the evil schemes plotting to destroy the true essence of human sexuality and family.” In a statement sent to all his priests, religious and lay organizations, he said the “Yes votes can never be interpreted as a defeat of the Cause of God because God can never be defeated and He will always triumph in the end.”
“Moreover, the Yes votes are too far from being significant to be considered as representative of the WILL of the majority of Filipinos.”
He also thanked God for the courage of 104 lawmakers who he said “remained steadfast” as they “publicly declared their No vote.”
Bishop Navarra called on the faithful to continue praying for God’s will “and let the fruit of such prayers be enfleshed by taking active stand for the defense of human life especially of the Unborn.”
While San Fernando (Pampanga) Auxiliary Bishop Pablo S. David said they “will continue to pray and try hard at forming the consciences of the faithful, including those of Catholic legislators.”
Bishop David added as it is the lawmakers’ job to pass relevant laws, it is the Catholic church’s duty to uphold spiritual and moral values such as the sacredness of human life from the moment of conception.
For Marbel (South Cotabato) Bishop Dinualdo Gutierrez, he said he is happy with the 104 lawmakers who showed their strength in faith. In a message sent to CBCP Media office, the 73-year old prelate said he is compassionate to the 113 who manifested weakness in their faith as he expressed his hope for their conversion.
Legazpi (Albay) Bishop emeritus Lucilo B. Quiambao said he “thought the lawmakers were sincere in their prayers as what The Lord’s Prayer says ‘Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven’ or they don’t pray at all.”
He added the lawmakers’ insincerity makes him doubt if they really voted ‘Yes’ as dictated by their conscience.
“I prayed for their enlightenment,” he concluded. (Melo Acuña / CBCPNews)