CBCP: More discussions on divorce bill needed

MANILA The Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has urged proponents of the divorce bill to conduct more discussions or debates on the controversial measure pending before the House of Representatives.

With due respect to (our lawmakers), we beg them to make room for more reasoned debates on the issue. Since they act as representatives of the people who elected them in office, we humbly suggest that they submit their personal opinions to a further consultation with their constituents, CBCP President Archbishop Romulo Valles said in a statement issued Wednesday.

Perhaps they can also consult experts in various fields in order to consider the many implications of the issue, not just on families but on the Philippine society as a whole, Valles added.

He noted that no marriage is perfect as problems are part of every relationship.

We do not doubt the sincerity of our pro-divorce legislators. It is precisely their good will which we wish to appeal to in asking them to reconsider their moves towards legalizing the dissolution of marriages. We do not even question the fact that there are indeed failed marriages and that not all married couples were joined together by God", the Davao prelate said.

There are provisions that demonstrate how seriously we take marriage as an institution, such that we make room for the possibility that some marriages might have been null and void from the start, such as when couples enter into marriage not for love, but for family pressure, and for many other similar reasons that suggest that no valid marriage took place. The legal remedies for such difficult circumstances are not lacking in our existing laws, both civil and canonical, he explained.

The CBCP president also asked the legislators to look at the social costs that go with an easy recourse to the dissolution of a marriage when couples begin to face the difficult challenges of marital love and commitment.

Even couples in seemingly successful marriages would often look back and recall the countless challenges that had almost brought their relationship to a breaking point if they had not learned to transcend personal hurts through understanding and forgiveness, or sometimes through the intervention of a dialogue facilitator, such as a marriage counselor, he said.

In a context in which divorce is presented as an easy option, marriages and families are bound to break up more easily. More children will grow up disoriented and deprived of the care of both parents, Valles added.

The Davao archbishop said they do not want to interfere with the legislature as they are aware of their duties as members of the Church.

We do not mean to interfere with the dynamics of a political entity, such as our country's legislature. We are fully aware of the limits of our influence as spiritual and moral leaders of the ecclesial communities entrusted to our care, he noted.

We also acknowledge plurality and diversity of moral opinions on the matter at issue. We merely ask that they consider the possibility that divorce, while it may indeed provide quick legal remedies for some seemingly 'failed marriages', might end up destroying even those marriages that could have been saved by dialogues or the intervention of family, friends, pastors, and counselors, Valles added.

He said they are standing firm on their stance against divorce.

Like Catholics in most other countries where divorce is legal, we wish to assert that nothing, not even a divorce law, can make us give up our faith in the indissolubility of marriage as a lifetime covenant between a man and woman who have freely said yes to the call to love and commit themselves to God and to each other, through thick and thin, Valles said.

Last month, the House of Representatives' committee on population and family relations approved a bill that seeks to introduce divorce and the dissolution of marriage in the country.

Source: Philippine News Agency