Aquino slammed for snubbing leader of Protestant council
MANILA,Philippines—Protestant leaders on Saturday expressed disappointment with Malacañang’s change of heart when it decided to scrap a meeting between President Aquino and the Rev. Dr. Olav Fykse Tveit, secretary general of the World Council of Churches (WCC).
Fr. Rex Reyes Jr., National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP) secretary general, described as “unfortunate” the Presidential Management Staff’s message to the NCCP Thursday that said Mr. Aquino “has a very busy schedule” and could not meet with Tveit, who is in the country for a gathering of Protestant leaders from around the world.
He said Tveit, a Norwegian, would have expressed support for the resumption of peace talks between Manila and the communist National Democratic Front. Norway is actively helping along the process to put an end to the decades-old communist insurgency in the country.
“Dr. Tveit is very much aware of issues in the Philippines and while he would have raised certain concerns, he would have also conveyed support for the resumption of the formal peace negotiations,” Reyes said.
An NCCP source said the Protestant churches and Malacañang had long discussed the meeting and the Palace even asked Tveit what he would like to take up with the President.
Tveit earlier met with victims and families of human rights violations in the country, who blamed the atrocities on the government’s counterinsurgency plan code-named Oplan Bayanihan. The group urged the WCC to help lobby against it.
Reyes said a number of victims of extrajudicial killings from 2001 to the present belonged to WCC member churches.
Tveit is in the country to attend the preassembly conference of the WCC Commission for World Mission and Evangelism (WCC-CWME) at Traders Hotel in Manila.
The conference, which will run until March 27, brings together around 300 church leaders from around the world from various Christian traditions—Protestant, Anglican, Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Pentecostal and independent churches.
The conference aims to “take a second look at missions and evangelism in the complex and difficult context,” the NCCP said.
The gathering is expected to adopt a paper on evangelism that would be presented to the WCC General Committee and later to the 10th General Assembly of the WCC to be held in Busan, South Korea, in 2013.
Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle, who graced the occasion on Thursday, welcomed the religious leaders to the country. Among Catholic leaders participating in the conference are Fr. Joe Dizon, an activist priest and Sr. Mary John Mananzan, chair of the Association of Major Religious Superiors of the Philippines.
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