PASIG CITY, August 30, 2015–Amid the public outcry over street protests that worsened vehicular traffic congestion in Metro Manila, Bishops Antonio Tobias and Deogracias Iñiguez called on the Catholic faithful to pray for the members of the Iglesia ni Cristo (INC).
Novaliches Bishop Antonio Tobias emphasize the need to pray for INC members, who, he stressed, are fellow citizens of the country.
“We have to pray for them so that they are able to get over their on crisis right now,” Tobias told the CBCP News after the funeral Mass for the late Bishop Emeritus Francisco San Diego Saturday.
To recall, INC members have trouped to the Department of Justice (DOJ) office along Padre Faura Street in Manila last Thursday to assail what they claim as “religious persecution.” The group also held a vigil along Epifanio delos Santos Avenue last Friday, effectively paralyzing traffic flow along the major thoroughfare.
The INC rallies stemmed from DOJ Secretary Leila De Lima’s decision to look into the illegal detention case filed by expelled INC minister Isaias Samson Jr. against INC leaders. The protesters protested against the government’s move, citing the Constitutional guarantee on the separation of the Church and the State.
Caloocan Bishop Emeritus Deogracias Iñiguez said “we are certainly praying for them. We are sad to see that they are disunited.”
But while separation of Church and State is meritorious, Iñiguez said there are exemptions under the law.
“We should consider that because they are also citizens, whatever takes place in their organization as a community, has an effect on others. The State, on that effect, has the right to interfere,” he pointed out.
Iñiguez advised INC leaders to examine the cause of disunity in their Church.
“This event, which seems to indicate that they are disunited, is something for them to look into and examine. For the sake of their religion, they should work towards unity and not disunity,” the prelate added.
Outside of Metro Manila, INC has been allowed to mobilize in busy portions of Cebu City and Davao City this Sunday. The INC has permits to stage rallies in Manila until September 4, and in Mandaluyong until today, August 30. (CBCP News)