THE Catholic Church will remain critical of any wrongdoing by government despite attempts to silence it, the influential Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) said on Monday.
CBCP President and Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas stressed that attempts to silence the Church have been made for the past 2,000 years.
“One form of persecution is to tell the Church to keep quiet and not get involved in anything that is not, in a manner of speaking, religious. So the Church should not engage in politics, in culture in business and in whatever form,” he said in a news briefing in connection with the launching of Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) Philippines.
But Villegas stressed that it is not in the nature of the Church to keep silent because doing so is a betrayal of the mission that the Lord has entrusted to it, to spread the gospel to all nations.
“The Church should be at the pulpit, the Church should be at the sacristy and if the Church teaches about ethics and morality, human behavior, it is interference of the Church. That is another form of persecution because the Church must really get involved,” the prelate said.
Villegas explained that there are unnecessary and necessary persecution but it is the former that the Church should stand up to.
“As Catholics, we believe that we share in the suffering of the Lord. But here is also an unnecessary suffering because it violates human rights, it violates the honor of God, the glory of God, [it is]the unnecessary suffering that we want to resist.”
The CBCP has been very critical of the Duterte government’s war on illegal drugs which has claimed more than 4,000 lives.
But Villegas was also quick to point out that it is not only the government that is persecuting the Church.
“There is no group in Philippine society that is solely responsible. Right inside our Church we can have that so it is not limited to government, it is not limited to the atheist, it not limited to non-Catholics,” he explained.
He pointed out that the separation of Church and State is just a mandate of the Philippine Constitution.
“Separation of Church and State is good for the State and it is good for the Church. But there should be no separation between God and human [beings]because when God is separated from man and man [is]separated from God, man becomes the loser. God still stays as God but we become less human when we separate ourselves from God,” Villegas said. WILLIAM B. DEPASUPIL