WHILE they make for good advertising and brisk sales, “Pope T-Shirts” being sold in the market are “misleading” and “erroneous,” according to the influential Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP).
In a statement, CBCP President Archbishop Socrates Villegas on Monday called on the faithful to cease patronizing the shirts that are supposed to honor Pope Francis, who is visiting the Philippines on January 15 to 20 next year.
“We urge our Catholic faithful not to patronize items with misleading posts and statements,” Villegas said.
The CBCP president, also the head of the archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan, said while texts on the shirts attempts to express “the openness of the Holy Father,” the phrases “NO RACE NO RELIGION” on them lead the public to a different conclusion.
“[It is] definitely misleading and, quite frankly, erroneous,” Villegas added.
“He [Pope Francis] has never said and taught that religion and race do not matter, because they most certainly do. It is what selfish, uncharitable and judgmental people do with religion and race that is a problem,” he explained.
Villegas, also part of the Central Committee for Papal Visit 2015, said Francis does not wish to undermine the centrality of faith and religion or the significance of cultural identity.
“Pope Francis is aware of the fact that he heads an organized religion with a vast membership throughout the world. He is also aware that race forms part of the identity of individuals and of peoples,” he added.
Shirts bearing the official logo of the upcoming papal visit have gone on sale, bearing the texts: “Ganito ako. Ganyan ka [I am like this. You are like that]. Who am I to judge?” and “No Race, No Religion. Embrace Diversity.”
ABS-CBN in a statement said “there was no intent to deceive or mislead the public through the commemorative shirts that carry statements inspired by Pope Francis’ message of love, openness, and humility.”
“We apologize if a particular statement shirt offended anyone. We are pulling out the item from our online shop and all retail partner stores,Bong Osorio, ABS-CBN spokesman, said.