29 May 2011

Archbishop appeals for sobriety on RH debate

An archbishop has called on Catholics to be sober in discussing the reproductive health (RH) bill.

Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas, in a pastoral letter, said he is dismayed with the bitter division between Catholics on the issue.

"The past few months have seen many of us who belong to the same Church and who share the same faith in Christ at odds with one another on the issue of the reproductive health bill in Congress," he said.
 "It is indeed sad and perhaps even scandalous for non-Christians to see the Catholic flock divided among themselves and some members of the Catholic lay faithful at odds with their own pastors. If we fail to have love, we make ourselves orphans," Villegas added.

He appealed for "the triumph of reason and sobriety" in the debate.

"We want to make a plea for greater charity even as we passionately state our positions on this divisive issue. At the end of the heated debates, we will all be winners if we proclaim the truths we believe in with utmost charity, courtesy and respect for one another," Villegas said in the pastoral letter, which will be read as a homily in all masses in the Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan on Sunday.

The prelate said Catholics who stand on opposing sides on the RH bill issue should "return to the voice of conscience, to state their positions and rebut their opponents always with charity."

"The moral conscience is man's sanctuary through which the voice of God is heard, that voice that tells us to embrace what is good and reject what is evil. However, conscience is not the ultimate tribunal of morality. Conscience must be formed in the light of truth. Conscience must be enlightened by the Spirit of God," Villegas said.

"We appeal to both sides engaged in debate to pray, to seek the light of God and allow the voice of an enlightened conscience to prevail. We pray conscience does now allow itself to be swayed by statistics or partisan political positions," he added.

Villegas said being a Catholic does not only pertain to the acceptance of a set of doctrines.

"Our Catholic faith has a moral mandate. It is not enough to recite the Apostles' Creed; we must show that we are Catholics by living by the norms of Catholic morality. We are Catholics by creed and cult and code. We are Catholics in beliefs. We are Catholics in prayer. We are Catholics with one moral life," he added.
Villegas, however, believes that the issue of contraception "belongs to the realm of faith not opinions."

"Blessed John Paul II repeatedly taught us during his papacy that contraception can never be justified. We must not make wrong right by the sheer force of surveys or legislation by the majority or the convenience of some. People in authority who mislead others on the matter of contraception put themselves in open conflict with the law of God and lead others to sin," he warned.

He also lashed out at ethical relativism, which he believes, "will lead to totalitarianism."

"Ethical relativism destroys freedom. Ethical relativism turns freedom into licentiousness. Licentiousness and laxity have destroyed many great civilizations of history.  Those who ignore the mistakes of history are doomed to repeat them," Villegas said.

Source: ABS CBN News

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