I attended a mass officiated by Bishop Teodoro Bacani at the Pope Pius XII Catholic Center. The Bishop narrated how the infamous CBCP pastoral statement became ambiguous and muddled…
Bacani was not present during the weekend retreat of the CBCP but a colleague told him that the position of the Bishops regarding the impeachment is clear. The original statement on the matter runs this way:
“We wish to make the CBCP position clear and unambiguous on the present impeachment plans:
24.1. We are undoubtedly for the search for truth. Therefore, in all sincerity we respect the position of individuals or groups that wish to continue using the impeachment process to arrive at the truth.
24.2. Unless the process and its rules as well as the mindsets of all participating parties, pro and con, are guided by no other motive than genuine concern for the common good, impeachment will once again serve as an unproductive political exercise, dismaying every citizen, and deepening the citizen’s negative perception of politicians, left, right and center.”
This was unanimously supported by the body.
But a ‘mystery’ Bishop stood up and proposed to add the following statement: “But as Bishops reflecting and acting together as a body in plenary assembly, in the light of previous circumstances, we are not inclined at the present moment to favor the impeachment process as the means for establishing the truth.”
The body objected since it will give another meaning to their original intent. Discussion ensued. Later, voting took place: 52-39 in favor of inserting the proposed statement.
Some Bishops wanted the debates to continue but since there is no more time, the session adjourned and the pastoral statement was soon released to the public.
Bishop Bacani mentioned that what happened is a learning experience for CBCP. In the future, he said there should be more time for discussion on very important social concerns.
Many Bishops are shocked that those whom they castigated in their Pastoral Statement for rejecting the impeachment case a year ago, are the very same persons who are rejoicing today.
Below is my original reaction to the CBCP Pastoral Statement published by Yehey! The Bishops really need more time to reflect since they endorsed groups that are “non-partisan.” Ok, I believe One Voice and Kapatiran are non-partisan in the same way that I believe Sigaw ng Bayan is not pro-Gloria. I want to vomit everytime I hear a group claims it is non-political or non-partisan. In this age, and especially in this kind of society, a non-partisan group is a joke and a pretentious pompous entity. (forgive the redundancy)…..
The Pastoral Letter is eagerly awaited by the faithful to serve as guide for their daily actions and decisions. However, politicians are the first to react and use the Pastoral statement to suit their tainted political agenda.
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) is worried that their Pastoral Letter on Social Concerns will be misinterpreted again by people who want to use the name of the Church in order to quell the yearning for truth and justice.
The CBCP respected the decision of well-meaning citizens who wish to use “the impeachment process to arrive at the truth.” But our Church leaders, like so many of our countrymen, are pessimistic that politicians will use the impeachment case for selfish interests rather than for the public good. Thus, the CBCP decided not to favor the impeachment process, at the present moment, since it will be an “unproductive political exercise that will dismay every citizen.”
The CBCP did not endorse the impeachment process but it hinted that it may support this means of arriving at the truth if both parties in this political process can show sincerity, transparency and fairness. This is a challenge to all political leaders of the country.
We are disappointed that the Church hierarchy surrendered to cynicism when it refused to endorse the impeachment process. Rather than use their influence to convince political leaders to respect the impeachment as a noble way of seeking truth, the CBCP flatly rejected the new bid to subject President Gloria Arroyo to an impeachment trial merely because they believe traditional politicians will remain as, well, traditional politicians.
The Pastoral Letter reiterated the stand of the Church that Charter Change is best done through Constitutional Convention and it “requires widespread participation, total transparency, and relative serenity that allows for rational discussion and debate.” The CBCP denounced the “hasty efforts” to amend the Constitution and it warned us of political dynasties who wish to pursue Cha-cha for their personal interests.
Aside from opposing the cancellation of the 2007 elections, the CBCP batted for the modernization and overhaul of electoral process. It even encouraged the prosecution or resignation of Commission on Election Commissioners. Is this an indictment for the electoral fraud which marred the 2004 elections? But what about the resignation/prosecution of politicians who committed electoral fraud?
The CBCP made a strong appeal against extra-judicial killings of journalists and social activists. It also denounced the killings of civilians caught in the crossfire between military forces and rebel groups.
We respect the views of the CBCP. The Pastoral Letter is clearly neither an endorsement for both the administration and the Opposition.
Now that the Bishops have spoken, it’s up to the people to take up the challenge posed by our religious leaders to make our society “more peaceful, more fraternal and more just.”