Thursday, October 29, 2009

RH stand cost bishop CBCP presidency: WHAT?!

When I read this report, I knew I had to comment event though it was a long article.

taken from


MANILA - Reproductive health (RH) as an issue may not make or break a presidential campaign in next year’s elections, but it already cost the presidency for a high-ranking member of the Catholic Church. [the writer is giving the impression that he has the info to back this up.]

Because of his liberal stance on reproductive health [you'll see later if it is indeed liberal] and engagement with the national government on the issue, Cagayan de Oro Archbishop Antonio Ledesma lost the presidency of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) to a more conservative bishop.

The incoming CBCP president is Tandag Bishop Nereo Odchimar, replacing Jaro Archbishop Angel Lagdameo.

Elected in 2005, Ledesma was vice-president to the now outgoing CBCP President Jaro Archbishop Angel Lagdameo. It was both their first terms in office, and tradition dictated that they get to be elected for a second term. CBCP officials have a two-year tenure in office, or a total of four to include the second term.

Also, the vice-president succeeds the president by tradition. Although they are equals, to be elected as CBCP president is considered an honor and peer acknowledgment of one’s skills—personal and managerial.

Outside of the CBCP, the CBCP president is now considered as the most influential church official, with the possible exception of the cardinals in Manila and Cebu. [True.]

Election for a second term in the CBCP is only procedural, with the incumbents getting a fresh second term. But in 2007, the leaders of the Catholic Church, the bastion of conservatism and tradition, broke its own unwritten rule.

In a surprise vote, Ledesma was ousted as CBCP vice-president, and elected instead was Odchimar.

Political and reproductive views

Two sources of, who are privy to the bishops’ affairs, said one of the reasons for Ledesma’s loss was connected to his political views. [now watch out.]

Ledesma was one of the few bishops critical of President Arroyo, [I am too!] and those sympathetic to her [and how many are they may I ask?] purportedly wanted to replace him as vice-president, realizing that he would assume the presidency after Lagdameo steps down.

Lagdameo himself is critical of Arroyo’s government, and his harsh statements on Arroyo's governance did not sit well with some bishops. [I agree but not because of  his criticism but because Abp. Lagdameo spent most of his time in CBCP criticizing the government rather than doing more for the Church's more pressing issue like pro-life, liturgy, silent apostasy of dissidents...]

But the same sources also said that Ledesma’s open-minded view on reproductive health contributed to his downfall.

Asked to confirm if his position on reproductive health cost him the CBCP post, Ledesma said, “that’s possible.” 

He refused, however, to categorically confirm the observation, saying “you have to ask the other bishops on that.”

Ledesma is one of the few Catholic bishops actively engaged in promoting family planning the natural way. [THE NATURAL WAY!  He is helping in family planning but not by promoting artificial birth control!  I know most Pinoy bishops are not admirable in diocesan governance but good grief they are not that stupid to vote against Abp. Ledesma simply because he is promoting natural family planning!  Is this writer implying that majority of Filipino bishops are against family planning in WHATEVER way, be it artificial or natural?  This is preposterous!]

He is an ardent supporter of the modern and scientific natural family planning (NFP) methods, specifically the Standard Days Method (SDM). [which my wife and I practice.  This is not against the natural law nor contradictory to Humanae Vitae!] The SDM, like the rhythm method, is based on the women’s menstrual cycle. However, instead of calendar or charting, cycle beads are used to determine a woman’s fertility.

In Ipil prelature in Zamboanga del Sur where he was previously assigned, the NFP project he started there was so successful that it was expanded to other scientifically approved NFP methods.

When he was appointed archbishop of Cagayan de Oro, Ledesma brought his NFP advocacy there. He collaborated with the local governments in promoting NFP instead of artificial methods. [which is the Church is promoting!]

It was then that rumblings began. [because some bishops are not working on natural family planning?]

Collaboration with government

On Oct. 24, 2006, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III and Population Commission (Popcom) executive director Tomas Osias met with Lagdameo, Ledesma, and Archbishop Paciano Aniceto, who chairs the CBCP Episcopal Commission on Family and Life, to seek the engagement of the Church in the Responsible Parenting Movement, which would supposedly only promote NFP.

This was followed by another meeting in November with the CBCP permanent council. The proposal for Church-government collaboration, however, was put on hold and was set to be discussed first in the CBCP plenary in January 2007.

Before the CBCP could make a collective stance, Ledesma already sought to have a partnership with the government for the joint promotion of NFP. In his diocese in Cagayan de Oro, he pushed the laity and Catholic groups there to partner with the Department of Health (DOH) and Popcom offices in promoting NFP. [I think he did the right thing.  Why wait for some incompetent people at the CBCP to write papers and pronouncements which end up gathering dust in the bookshelves when you can do something more concrete to help control the population growth, the NATURAL WAY!]

In making available all modern NFP methods as against traditional NFP methods, Ledesma argued in one letter that “we are for enabling couples to make an informed and responsible choice, based on the formation of a right conscience.” [as long as it is not against the laws of God, the Church and nature!]

This invited the critical eye of the conservatives within the Church and the laity. [conservatives?  really?]

Report to the Vatican [Now this is for Dan Brown's new book!]

Representatives of the Family and Life Apostolate in Mindanao, in a letter sent to Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo, chair of the Pontifical Commission on Family, raised the issue of Ledesma’s active promotion of SDM. It questioned his advocacy and his collaboration with the DOH and Popcom.

Fr. Melvin Castro, executive secretary of the CBCP Episcopal Commission on Family and Life, told that dioceses and the laity are discouraged from collaborating with government on reproductive health in any manner because it could put the Church in an uncomfortable position. [now where in the world did this come from?  If this were true, why are some bishops not uncomfortable receiving donations from the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (the government corporation running casinos nationwide) and the PCSO (the operator of the national lottery)?  Don't deny this!  I know one bishop who remained silent of reported human rights abuses because his benefactor showers him well!  Oh, wait... Make that 3 bishops!  I heard from MORE trusted sources that bishops who are not critical of Gloria Arroyo are SURE to have received donations from Pagcor and PCSO.]

In the case of NFP, Castro said they have gathered reports that in the promotion of SDM, “artificial methods are being introduced as a back up plan in case it fails.” Another high-ranking bishop confirmed that in his diocese, “while the initial agreement was to promote NFP methods only, artificial methods are being introduced when no one is looking.” [now I would want to see that report.  This is serious accusation!]

Castro said that “while we love Archbishop Ledesma and respect him, he has a different position when it comes to reproductive health.”

In his reply to the Vatican complaint, Ledesma said the SDM is not only scientifically proven but also is attuned with Catholic teachings. As for his collaboration with the DOH and Popcom, he argued that the agreement promotes NFP exclusively and not in combination with artificial methods. [do I sense a smear campaign here?]

Ledesma argued that the Church has three options: 1) to continue to criticize and remain suspicious of government; 2) to work separately from government on NFP promotion; or, 3) to critically collaborate with government.

“We have actually tried the first two approaches—with minimal results. Trying out the third approach may incur some risk of failure and misuse, but perhaps the greater risk is not to try at all,” he said.

Ousted as VP

A few months after he agreed to collaborate with the government on reproductive health, the collegial body of bishops held its bi-annual elections, and it resulted in the stunning ouster of Ledesma as CBCP vice president. Had he been reelected, he would have assumed the presidency after Lagdameo’s term. Lagdameo’s term ends on December 1, 2009.

A bishop, who asked not be named, said there were a number of conservative colleagues who find Ledesma’s reproductive stance objectionable, and were thus wary of putting him in line for the CBCP presidency. “There were also reports that he gets funding from international organizations that promote population control, “ the bishop said. [Where's the proof?]

Ledesma, however, strongly denied this.

as of 10/29/2009 10:36 AM


If the report is true that the bishops believed in reports that Abp. Ledesma is promoting artifical birth control clandestinely without a VERIFIABLE report to back it up, then I am not surprised at all if this was indeed the basis for their vote of no confidence.  Acting without factual basis is the same as not swimming in the Lochness because you still believe that the monster is still lurking in the water.


Pinoy bishops have this attitude of going with the flow.

I know how they reacted to Summorum Pontificum and why only one Pinoy bishop so far has celebrated the EF Mass publicly.  Because this is how they think!  If others are doing it, then it must be right!  If others are not doing it, then it must be wrong!  Go with the flow!  Its the latest fashion!

Since we are in the topic of population control, ask your bishop...Aside from criticizing the RH Bill, what measures have you done in your diocese to help control the population?

....................... (

On the other hand, this writer is painting a picture that the Church tells us that we cannot use ANY method of family planning and that even the Vatican agrees to this nonsense!

What the Church is against is this...
  • artificial birth control
There is certainly other reasons why Abp. Ledesma did not get the CBCP presidency even though, according to "tradition", he is to succeed the outgoing president.  But I can bet on it, that his work on NATURAL FAMILY PLANNING is NOT the reason why his brother bishops in the CBCP did not vote for him as president.

To even imply that the Church is not advocating responsible parenthood and even bringing this foolishness in the election halls of the CBCP... this writer must have the same brain waves as Richard McBrien, Hans Kung and Dan Brown.

Do I smell another Da Vinci Code novel Filipino style in the horizon?

    1 comment:

    1. Hi,
      I read it just this morning and I am extremely saddened.
      Anyway, I am active in the Family and Life Ministry in the Cubao Diocese and I first learned of the efforts for NFP advocacy collaboration with DOH about 3 years ago. It appears that the FLM and the CBCP studied the proposed MOA back then, having reservations that the MOA and its implementation would compromise the Church position on NFP. As this evaluation was going on, it was learned that some Mindanao Bishops went ahead and signed the MOA. To make the long story short, the MOA was not approved by the majority body, so that a largescale, nationwide partnership was not effected. The reasons cited were that there was evidence that artificial methods were somehow being discreetly introduced into the implementation and that SDM is not the preferred method of NFP. NFP-SDM being only 93-95% effective whereas the NFP-BOM was at 98-99%, coupled with additional concerns that SDM only works for women with regular cycles and that the abstinence period required was very long. Also, one of the major partners in that project was USAID, who is well-known for aggressive promotion of contraceptives. Yes, USAID provides funding in this collaboration.
      The CBCP Commission on Family and Life's rejection of this particular partnership with the government with the major concern of its compromising the Church's stand is not entirely unfounded. On the other hand, SDM per se is still consistent with the Church's teachings on Natural Family Planning, and I believe Bp Ledesma could not be faulted into going ahead with the partnership as he made reasonable safeguards in the agreement to ensure that artificial methods will not be included. I guess the bottom line here is that there are differences in the approach while they all agree with the Church principles and goals.
      As for the repercussions in the voting of the CBCP president, we can only speculate.