Wednesday, July 19, 2006

In the Interest of the Common Good

I respect the personal decision of Bishop Antonio Tobias in helping some members of the Magdalo group. As explained by him, it was in the interest of both the Magdalo group and the government in order that there may be a non-violent resolution of their differences.

Contrary to allegations, the 6 bishops in the news report did not have any meeting together with any group—including any member of the Magdalo group—in order to bring down the PGMA administration unconstitutionally and in a violent manner. It is very possible that an accusation is being leveled against the credibility of the Bishops, because of our stand on issues which are not pleasant to certain groups. As Bishops we always promote peaceful, non-violent and constitutional means of reform in government.

If I, or any of the Bishops, have spoken against or criticized the conduct of anyone or any group—in favor or against the government—it was for the interest of the common welfare. Because people look at issues from different perspectives and with different values, we Bishops accept that our statements—individually or corporately—may not be agreeable to everybody.

We feel sad that the stories related to the report of overthrowing of government are being fabricated without proof as to their veracity. I appeal that the sources of such stories will clarify themselves for the sake of the common good. I invite them to prove their statements involving us, six bishops.

Archbishop of Jaro
CBCP President

July 19, 2006

Friday, July 14, 2006

press statement

“On the Burning Issues”

When the CBCP gathered in conference to discuss their Pastoral Letter, especially on the “burning issues,” the hottest of which was about the impeachment, the bishops knew that their guidance would not sit well with all sectors. But they must proclaim the message “whether favorable or unfavorable…to itching ears” (2Tim. 4, 2-3). The Pastoral Letter needs to be read in its entirety especially the paragraphs on the hottest issue. When we were discussing the issue of the impeachment, the bishops were concerned with proclaiming a message which would serve the country best according to the light of their discernment, prayer and discussion.

Tough problems can be solved neither by force nor by the force of number nor by offering just one solution as if that were the only solution. Tough problems are a challenge for all parties—pro, con, and center—to think, talk and act together, to see new realities and create meaningful change. Each party or sector holds in part the solution to tough problems.

The Pastoral Letter “Shepherding and Prophesying in Hope” is meant to give some guidance to the lay faithful on the subject of social issues and on the burning issues. How this guidance is to be followed or put into effect is beyond the intention of the Letter. Whatever each individual or group decides to do, by God, do it well and don’t sacrifice the common good.

On the question of envelopes or gifts allegedly being distributed and of dinners offered by MalacaƱang to some bishops, since these were privately done, there was no consensus among the bishops whether to accept or not, whether to go for the dinner or not. Each bishop was completely free.

Truth to tell, the bishops did not have any knowledge of the alleged plan of MalacaƱang to use these gifts or envelops for political ends. It was only later that they realized the implication of the offer. Some, we know, returned their envelopes.

The bishops were told that the envelopes were for the poor. But how must the poor be help institutionally? On the one hand, bishops with the limited resources of their dioceses are already trying to respond to the needs of the poor, v.g., through their social action programs. On the other hand, must not the government use better its powerful institutions to help the poor? If the powerful institutions are not effective and efficient in the work of poverty alleviation, the question that must be asked is “WHY?” But must it be channeled to the bishops at this time?

+Angel N. Lagdameo
Archbishop of Jaro
CBCP President
July 14, 2006