“My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they followme”
(Jn 10: 27)
Pastoral Letter explaining the decision of CBCP to withdraw from talks With Malacañang on HB 4244
My dear people of God,As we celebrate this Sunday the Feast of the Good Shepherd, allow me once moreto fulfill my obligation as your shepherd in the archdiocese. There remains to be oneGood Shepherd, Our Lord Jesus, who urges each of us to conform ourselves with Him, toimitate Him and to follow Him. As your archbishop, it is my duty to help you, in the bestof my ability, to make the voice of our Lord clearer and understandable. Only when weare able to listen and follow His voice can we call ourselves His sheep. The Gospel of John echoes perfectly this invitation in the words of Jesus: “My sheep hear my voice, Iknow them, and they follow me” (Jn 10: 14).The much debated issue on RH Bill and its new version, House Bill 4244 knownas Responsible Parenthood bill continues to scatter the flock, pushing fellow Filipinos tomake a stand based on what they hear and watch from the news and what they can gatherfrom highly opinionated information. What confuses people all the more is how ourpolitical leaders engage in double talk on what the House Bill 4244 really is intended forand how they would like the people to see it. Recently, we learned that the CatholicBishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) withdrew from the talks arrangedby President Aquino. In this context allow me to explain the reasons why the CBCPconsidered the talk destined to failure. Along the course of identifying the reasons, maywe clarify what really the Church stands for; what it sincerely believes and therefore willfight for.1. The HB 4244 has good provisions (building hospitals, maternal and children’shealth care, rights of the poor, education, etc.); however these are interwoven—packagedwith—bad provisions. By the term bad provisions is meant, first, those portions of the billwhich will promote and legalize contraceptives as means for population control(contraceptive pills and gadgets which have abortifacient effects, sterilization procedures,etc.); these are widely acknowledged as having serious adverse consequences on humanlives, especially those of the mothers, mothers-to-be and of the new human lives that areformed at fertilization. Second, deemed bad provisions also are those that seek toestablish a mindset and a value-system that are secularist, materialistic, individualisticand hedonistic, in the guise of development and modernity, but which in effect are hostileto human life, the family and religion. The bill abuses the meanings of “rights”, “choice”,“freedom” and “responsible parenthood” even as these trample on the religious and moralexercise of conscience. Since bad provisions are present in HB 4244, the Bishops rejectthe bill in its entirety.