Bishop Ruperto Santos: Church open to dialogue with gov’t but cannot stop spreading the Gospel of life

Bishop Ruperto Santos: Church open to dialogue with gov’t but cannot stop spreading the Gospel of life

Catholic bishops hold candles during the closing ceremony of the 4th World Apostolic Congress on Mercy held at the Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar in Bagac, Bataan, Jan. 20, 2017. (CBCPNews)

MANILA, Jan. 22, 2017—  A Catholic bishop said the Church is always open to dialogue with the Duterte administration, but it cannot stop spreading the Gospel of life in defense of human dignity.

Bishop Ruperto Santos reiterated the Church’s openness towards dialogue on issues affecting the country, stressing, however, the need to preserve the Church’s uncompromising pro-life stand.

“That is always the better solution to anything… we have to sit and talk,” said Santos in a press conference at the end of the 4th World Apostolic Congress (WACOM) in Mercy in Bagac, Bataan on Jan. 20.

“You listen to them, present everything, and let’s observe what are the things that we can work together and things that we are going to avoid,” he said.

But the prelate stressed the Church cannot be silent on the increasing number of extrajudicial killings  in the country and the government’s push for the revival of the death penalty.

In his homily at the closing Mass of the mercy congress, the Santos emphasized that life is the “common denominator” of all acts of mercy.

“It is to sustain life, not to make it suffer. It is to prolong life, not to suppress it. It is to maintain life, not to murder it,” Santos told the local and international delegates of the five-day gathering.

The bishop added that if someone has a shameful or scandalous past, “remember that person can still be redeemed and renew his life.”

“Even if he is the worst sinner he can still be sorry and correct his life. There is hope,” he said. “There is still help. And there is still healing. It is because our God, is God of mercy.”

A Malacañang official on Friday sought a dialogue with the bishops, days after President Rodrigo Duterte’s tirade against the Church for criticizing his war on drugs.

Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said it would best for both parties to embrace dialogue in efforts to address the country’s problems. (Roy Lagarde/CBCPNews) 

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It’s bishops vs Duterte

President Duterte holds a copy of the book “Altar of Secrets,”which he misquoted to launch new attacks on the Catholic Church. —JOAN BONDOC

President Duterte holds a copy of the book “Altar of Secrets,”which he misquoted to launch new attacks on the Catholic Church. —JOAN BONDOC

A ranking official of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) on Wednesday said the Church would continue to criticize President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs, after the foulmouthed leader attacked the clergy anew on Tuesday, saying the Church was “full of shit.”

But the Church would also continue to be “understanding” and “very patient” with Mr. Duterte, who also said bishops were “corrupt” and “womanizers” like himself.

“Even before, the Church has been very, very understanding, and very, very patient,” Fr. Jerome Secillano, executive secretary of the CBCP’s Permanent Committee on Public Affairs, told the Inquirer.

“We just need to understand the President. I think [his tirade] was an outburst born out of anger,” Secillano said.

The CBCP desires to end all the bickering between the Church and the President, Secillano said, but added that Church leaders will continue to speak against the methods employed by the Duterte administration in its campaign against illegal drugs.

More than 7,000 people have been killed by police and unknown assailants since Mr. Duterte launched his war on drugs after taking office in June last year.

Church not the enemy

“The Church is not the enemy of the President or of the government,” Secillano said. “We have the same intention to end criminality and the drug problem, but perhaps we differ in strategies.”

The Church also wants to punish criminals, he said.

“We do not condone criminality, but we continue to emphasize that [punishment] must be done in a legal manner,” he said.

Referring to the dialogue with bishops proposed by presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella, Secillano said the decision was in the hands of the majority of the Church’s leaders.

Mr. Duterte’s latest attack on the clergy came at his meeting in Malacañang on Tuesday with families of 44 Philippine National Police Special Action Force commandos who were killed in a clash with Moro rebels in

Mamasapano, Maguindanao province, on Jan. 25, 2015.

‘Altar of Secrets’

In a profanity-laden speech, Mr. Duterte encouraged the families of the slain police commandos to read the book “Altar of Secrets: Sex, Money and Politics in the Philippine Catholic Church” by the late journalist Aries Rufo to discover the sins of Catholic bishops in the Philippines.

“I challenge you now. I challenge the Catholic Church. You are full of shit. You all smell bad, corruption and all,” Mr. Duterte said.

He dared the bishops to resign, saying he would do the same if they stepped down.

Commenting on Mr. Duterte’s attack on Wednesday, Lipa Archbishop Ramon Arguelles said bishops could resign only with the approval of the Pope.

“Bishops are not voted upon by nor chosen by people,” Arguelles said in a text message. “They are appointed by the Holy See. Resignation of bishops must be submitted to and accepted by the Holy See.”


According to Mr. Duterte, he and Catholic Church officials have the same sin—womanizing.

He singled out Bishop Teodoro Bacani, who he said had two wives like him.

Bacani, bishop emeritus of Novaliches, responded on Wednesday, denying he had two wives.

“If he [said] that, I pity him. It sounded crazy. I pray for him,” Bacani said in a text message.

“I do not have even one wife. I hope anyone who says I have two will produce even one. Poor guys who can only use lies versus truth,” he said.

But he added that if Mr. Duterte did not have immunity from suit, he would bring defamation and libel charges against him.

“There is no proof yet of the accusations against Bishop Bacani,” Arguelles said. “Besides he has already resigned.”

Bacani resigned in 2003 after being accused of sexual harassment by his personal secretary.

Pope John Paul II accepted Bacani’s resignation.

During the World Apostolic Congress on Mercy held in Manila recently, Bacani bewailed the spate of extrajudicial killings in Mr. Duterte’s war on drugs, calling the Philippine National Police a “bringer of death.”

Mr. Duterte said that unlike the bishops, he was not corrupt.

He chided the bishops for asking for vehicles, including Pajeros, from the government during the time of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

“Shouldn’t you be ashamed of yourselves? That’s so expensive and so many people have nothing to eat,” he said.

Mr. Duterte said the bishops knew they were not supposed to receive anything from the government, and yet they asked for Pajeros.

“Son of a bitch, the fools accepted it,” he said.

“It was pure graft and corruption,” he added.

No one found guilty

Arguelles said none of the bishops had been found guilty of soliciting vehicles from the Arroyo administration.

He said the vehicles given to the bishops were intended for the Church’s social action for the poor.

The bishops returned the vehicles amid a Senate inquiry into the controversy.

Mr. Duterte said he had been aware of clerical indiscretions since he was a young boy, and he railed against priests who refused to serve the poor.

He said he just might write  a book about Church officials and he would title it “Hypocrisy.”

Mr. Duterte noted that Church officials call politicians corrupt. “How about you?” he asked.

Most politicians are afraid of offending Catholic Church officials, but not him, Mr. Duterte said.

Despite Church officials “politicking” and warning people against voting for him during the campaign, he still won the election, he said.

Guilty should resign

Arguelles acknowledged that clergy guilty of serious offenses should resign.

“A bishop or priest who is guilty of a serious offense should indeed resign if their continued stay in their position harms the Church and the faithful,” he said.

Bishop Ruperto Santos of Balanga, Bataan province, shared Arguelles’ sentiments.

“We bishops have a mandate from God, appointed by the Holy Father. We can resign only to the Pope, not to anyone, even to the President,” Santos said.

“We have our shortcomings and sometimes we fail but we are contrite and rise up. And God forgives and trusts us again and again. God will never resort to our past. Let God be our judge. Let our people decide for us,” he said.

But Bishops Arturo Bastes of Sorsogon and Honesto Ongtico of Cubao just shrugged off Mr. Duterte’s attack.

“He is entitled to his opinion. Doctors should not stop healing people just because they get sick. Nobody is perfect,” Ongtico said.

“These are mere words uttered thoughtlessly, not worthy of consideration,” Bastes said.

“When insulted, the Lord Jesus has taught us not to retaliate. We should rather respond with prayer,” said Msgr. Joseph Tan, media liaison officer of the Archdiocese of Cebu.

While bishops, priests and a number of lay people were hurt by Mr. Duterte’s attack, Tan said it was improper to be angry.

“Let us not be carried away by emotions and react negatively. That is not fruitful,” he said. —WITH REPORTS FROM TINA G. SANTOS IN MANILA; MARICAR CINCO, INQUIRER SOUTHERN LUZON; AND ADOR VINCENT S. MAYOL, INQUIRER VISAYAS

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Bacani not backing down, urges Church execs to unite vs EJKs

Erik Tenedero, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 25 2017 06:39 PM

President Rodrigo Duterte and Bishop Emeritus Teodoro Bacani

MANILA – Bishop Emeritus Teodoro Bacani will remain relentless in criticizing President Rodrigo Duterte over certain policies, despite drawing the ire of the chief executive.

In an interview with the Church-run Radio Veritas, Bacani said he was merely defending the people’s right to life by explaining the truth and denouncing the wrong.

“Tungkol sa pagsasabi ng katotohanan at pagpuna ng mali, ito’y ginagawa natin hindi para sa ating sarili,” the prelate said.

Bacani also insisted that he is not aiming to destabilize the government.

“Ginagawa natin ‘to hindi para ibagsak ang presidente, kundi para iligtas ang mga buhay ng mga tao na dapat nating sikapin na tulungan sa halip na patayin.”

(With regards to telling the truth and calling out the wrong, we are doing this, not for ourselves and not to destabilize the president, but to save the lives of many people. We should help these people instead of killing them.)

Bacani also expressed hope that the country’s bishops will also condemn the alleged cases of extrajudicial killings.

“Ako ay umaasa na ang mga Obispo ay sama-samang magsasalita laban dito sa extrajudicial killing. May mga Obispo na nagsasalita na diyan. Mabuting sama-sama na magsalita ang mga Obispo,” the bishop added.

(I am hoping that the bishops will speak in unison against extrajudicial killing. There are bishops who are already speaking about it. But it’s better if the bishops will speak as one.)

Duterte earlier lambasted Bacani in a speech in Malacanang, even accusing the bishop of having two wives like him. He also hit the Church for criticizing his war against drugs.

Officials of the Duterte administration has long denied that the alleged extrajudicial killings were state sponsored.

Just recently, in front of delegates from different countries at the 4th World Apostolic Congress on Mercy held in the country, Bacani hit the police force’s anti-drug operation, particularly its “Oplan Tokhang” (Knock and Plead), which he called the “bringer of death.”

This sparked another series of tirades from Duterte, citing supposed corruption and hypocrisy of Catholic bishops.

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Bacani vows to give Duterte P10M if he can prove ‘two wives’ claim

/ 03:56 PM January 26, 2017

Novaliches Bishop Emeritus Teodoro Bacani on Thursday said that he will give President Rodrigo Duterte P10 million if the latter can reveal his “two wives” to the public.

“Unang-una, saan nakuha ng presidente ‘yun? Alam mo, kung makapag-produce ang presidente ng kahit na isang asawa ko, bibigyan ko siya ng limang milyong piso. Kahit mangutang ako, kung maka-produce siya ng dalawa, makaka-sampung milyon ang presidente natin,” Bishop Bacani said in an interview over church-run Radio Veritas.

(First and foremost, where did the president obtain that information? If the president can produce even just one wife of mine, I will give him five million pesos, even if I have to borrow the money for it. And if he can produce two, he will have ten million.)

Duterte on Tuesday said that he and officials of the Catholic Church have the same sin— that of womanizing. He noted that one bishop— Bishop Teodoro Bacani— had two wives like him.

Bacani reminded the President to reflect and not fight the truth by spreading lies and speaking ill of others as he quoted a bible verse, “the truth will set you free.”

“Maghunos-dili naman siya, presidente siya, hindi naman ordinaryong tsismoso, (he should be careful, he’s a president, not just an ordinary gossipmonger.)” Bacani said.

“Kapag ganyan, masyado niyang dini-degrade ang pagka-presidente, bumababa ang tingin ng tao sa presidente na tsismoso, mali pa ang tsismis at hindi pa totoo, (when that happens, he is degrading his leadership, the people will think lowly of a president who is a gossipmonger, with gossip that is not even true.)” he added.

Duterte lodged the accusation when Bacani questioned the increasing cases of death under investigation that has gone up to more than 4,000 in relation to the government’s war on drugs.

Bacani clarified that the Catholic Church is one with the government in the campaign against illegal drugs but what it criticizes is Duterte’s policies on the said campaign.

“Ang simbahan ay pinapahalagahan ang sagradong buhay ng tao sa pamamagitan ng pagbibigay ng panibagong pagkakataon sa mga nagkamali at nagkasala na magbagong buhay lalo sa pagtatayo ng mga drug rehab centers,” he said.

(The Church values the sanctity of human life by giving another chance to those who have done wrong and have sinned to start anew, especially in the establishment of drug rehab centers.) CDG/rga

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