The CBCP has finally spoken about the issue.
MANILA, July 11, 2011—The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) apologized Monday as the Church is stung over allegations that some prelates received vehicles from a state-run lottery agency.
In a pastoral statement, the CBCP said the bishops involved in the controversy are willing to be investigated and accept responsibility for their action.
“… We are sorry for the pain and sadness that these events have brought upon you,” reads part of the statement read by outgoing CBCP President Nereo Odchimar in a press conference.
“We assure you that the bishops concerned are ready to accept responsibility for their action and to face the consequences if it would be proven unlawful, anomalous, and unconstitutional,” it said.
The Catholic hierarchy has been reeling under heat after the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) accused at least seven prelates of accepting vehicles from the agency.
The PCSO alleged that the vehicles were used by the past administration for political patronage at the time when calls for resignation had been hounding former President Gloria Arroyo.
The CBCP, however, maintained that the seven bishops’ request for vehicles from the PCSO “was done without malice.”
“Out of their sincere desire to help their people, they failed to consider the pitfalls to which these grants could possibly lead them,” Odchimar said.
The bishops also asked the public “to be slow in judgment” and to “conscientiously” seek the truth behind the scandal. “Let us seek the truth always in charity,” said Odchimar.
The pastoral statement titled “A Time of Pain, A Time of Grace,” was made after the CBCP’s three-day 103rd plenary assembly which ended Monday noon.
Among those present in the meeting were Archbishop Gaudencio Rosales of Manila, retired Archbishop Ricardo Cardinal Vidal, and former CBCP head Archbishop Angel Lagdameo of Jaro.
Five of the seven bishops involved in the controversy were also present. They were: Cotabato Archbishop Orlando Quevedo, Abra Bishop Leopoldo Jaucian, Basilan Bishop Martin Jumoad, Bontoc-Lagawe Bishop Rodolfo Beltran and Butuan Bishop Juan de Dios Pueblos.
The other accused, Archbishops Romulo Valles of Zamboanga and Ernesto Salgado of Nueva Segovia, did not attend the meeting. Salgado is reportedly in the US for an appointment.
The bishops admitted the issue “deeply wounded” the Church causing confusion among the Catholics “because of the apparent inconsistency of our actions with our pastoral preaching.”
“Some members of the Church believe in the innocence of the bishops involved in the issue, while others do not. There is no doubt that everywhere in the Church there is great sorrow,” they said.
The bishops then vowed it would “re-examine” the manner of their collaboration with government agencies for purposes of helping the poor “making sure that pastoral sensibilities are respected and the highest ethical standards are observed.” [So agree!]
“We express again our deep sorrow for the pain that the recent events have brought to you our beloved people. The good Lord knows our love for you,” they said. (CBCPNews)
Here is my take:
First, I believe ALMOST ALL of the bishops mentioned have good intentions for their requests save for one, who did not have the sense of propriety or in Tagalog delicadeza to even think twice in writing the former president for a brand new vehicle as a birthday gift. The bishop in question might have the best of intentions but his method of asking leaves a bad taste in the mouth. The CBCP might have mentioned that the seven bishops in question have no malice when they asked for it, but I beg to disagree since the letter of that ONE bishop clearly says that it is for a birthday gift. If his intention was really for a vehicle for a charitable cause, isn't that a very good reason enough to request for one? Why use his own birthday as reason for asking for the vehicle? Again, delicadeza.
Second, the PCSO would like us to believe that it is ONLY some Catholic bishops who received donations from them. Oh come on! The INC did not get any from Joseph Estrada and Gloria Arroyo? Call me Johnny and kick me in the butt twice, but you won't let the little Jimmy make me believe that! Has anyone asked who are the people in the TESDA nowadays? And what church is benefitting from the programs of TESDA. Google and look who is at the helm. Take 1 and 1 together and presto! You got the answer. My parish just got a big NO from TESDA because it already has no funds. Why? Because Bishop Eddie has it all! Will the PCSO reveal the names of other churches and the religious organizations who have received donations from them as well? I don't think so. The Palace cannot risk losing allies in the fight for the RH Bill to pass Congress. And the easy prey in all of this is the Catholic Church.
At the end of the day, those spin doctors in the presidential palace think they can do a fast one against the Church with this issue.
Try harder! The Church has been in existence for thousands of years.