MANILA The Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) on Monday clarified that the Church is not a political opponent of the government.
In a two-page Pastoral Exhortation entitled, Rejoice and Be Glad! signed by CBCP president Archbishop Romulo Valles, the bishops' group said that they respect the political authority of the elected officials of the country.
The church respects the political authority, especially of democratically-elected government officials, as long as they do not contradict the basic spirit and moral principles we hold dear, such as respect for the sacredness of life, the integrity of creation, and the inherent dignity of the human person, the CBCP said.
We are not political leaders, and certainly not political opponents of the government, they added.
The CBCP noted that the Church has always been a partner of the national and local governments especially in helping the less fortunate in the country.
The Church has, throughout history, coexisted with countless forms of government. The church has always been and will always be a partner of the government (especially in the Local Government Units (LGUs) and barangays) in countless endeavors for the common good, especially in addressing the needs of the most disadvantaged sectors of society, they said.
The group, however, admitted that it disagrees with some government policies due to spiritual and moral beliefs.
Sometimes we qualify the collaboration as critical mainly to distinguish our differences in terms of ultimate goals, even as we partner in some shared endeavors, they said.
Needless to say, on some specific issues, collaboration might not be possible because of our spiritual and moral beliefs, which we persistently propose, but never impose on the unwilling. In such instances, we can only invoke our right to conscientious objection, the statement added.
Though, they noted that they recognize the separation of the church and state, their stand on certain issues is based on principles of social justice and not on political or ideological agenda.
We do recognize the constitutional provision of the separation of church and state, mainly in the sense of distinction of roles in society. When we speak out on certain issues, it is always from the perspective of faith and morals, especially the principles of social justice, never with any political or ideological agenda in mind, the CBCP said.
The issuance of the pastoral statement was one of the highlights of the three-day Plenary Assembly, which ended on Monday.
The meeting is being held biannually or every January and July. It is considered as the highest decision-making body of the bishop's group in the country.
Meanwhile, Pasig Bishop Mylo Vergara explained that the church is one with the government in helping the poor, as he cited the advocacy of Australian missionary Sr. Patricia Ann Fox.
We are not political opponents. I wish the government would regard the church as partner for the common good. When Sister Fox help poor farmers that should be welcomed, to bring concerns for the poor. The government when they are concerned poorest of the poor we are their allies. When we get involved not in political perspective, he said in a press conference. (PNA)
Source: Philippine News Agency