“The efforts to influence the Church were apparent in the yellow line of lumping all the recent turn of events, including the killings of priests.”
The never-ending campaign to demonize President Rody Duterte was again in full throttle after the landmark meeting between Rody and Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) President Romulo Valles which was positive in all angles but it turned out differently in foreign media.
The meeting was an occasion for reconciliation but, lo and behold, the reports, obviously spoon fed to foreign media, were about a “public feud between President Rodrigo Duterte and the Roman Catholic Church in the Philippines” having “intensified.”
“Church leaders pushed back against criticism of priests and called for a national day of prayers and fasting” according to a report of the Washington Post.
The article added the “overwhelmingly Catholic country has been riveted in recent weeks by a clash between the popular president and a powerful institution that has sought to maintain its traditional moral authority while under a barrage of criticisms.”
Likewise, yellow Vice President Leni Robredo immediately called for a press briefing the next day that the pastoral letter was issued using the CBCP as weapon against Rody.
Valles, however, said the informal meeting between him and Rody had no set agenda and that he mostly “played it by ear” apparently since both Davao City natives were familiar with each other.
The scenes prior and after the meeting between Rody and Valles did not show any “intensified” rifts but it was more of two friends renewing their bonds.
Sifting through the communications from both the Church, the CBCP and the Palace, the most critical call was from the pastoral letter that, in so many words, urged mutual respect.
In the CBCP letter propitiously titled “Rejoice and Be Glad!” there was a statement urging the faithful to do penance but most part of it was on the delineation of the Church-State divide.
“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 in the letter signed by Valles.
The pastoral statement was the result of the three-day CBCP Plenary Assembly which ended on Monday.
Pasig Bishop Mylo Vergara said the Church and the government should not be political opponents.
“The government when it is concerned about the poorest of the poor, we are its allies,” he added.
The efforts to influence the Church were apparent in the yellow line of lumping all the recent turn of events, including the killings of priests, to the tough anti-crime policies of Rody.
The Palace, however, noted the restraint in the CBCP pastoral letter.
“There was no outright condemnation. So I thought the Church was avoiding an outright confrontation with this pastoral letter,” presidential spokesman Harry Roque said.
A better relationship, not only between the Duterte administration and the Church but also with everyone is expected after Rody and Valles cleared the air between them.
The most significant result of the meeting was an agreement to exercise restraint in statements involving faith on one hand and government policies on the other.
The goal is to have a productive relations between the Church and the government which follows the biblical teaching of “rendering to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s.”
Of course the yellow mob would have it differently as it schemes against Rody to bring him down by recruiting the help of some ambitious Church leaders.
Valles was right in his pastoral letter that respect is necessary to keep the Church and State relations on the balance.