MANILA, Philippines—Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle on Tuesday urged the Catholic faithful to pray and attend an overnight vigil in Makati for the defeat of the reproductive health bill.
Tagle urged the faithful to gather at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Makati starting at 6 p.m. Tuesday as Congress convenes Wednesday to vote on the RH bill.
“Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio G. Cardinal Tagle has called for a Prayer Vigil starting with a Mass at 6:30 p.m., December 11, the eve of the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe,” said a statement from the archdiocese of Manila.
“The overnight vigil continues (Wednesday), with Masses at 6 a.m., 8 a.m., 12 noon, 5 p.m., 6:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. Cardinal Tagle will celebrate the Mass at the Shrine at 12 noon. He personally invites everyone to go to the Shrine for the vigil and/or the Masses,” it added.
Catholics opposed to the RH bill are invoking the intercession of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the patroness of the Catholic pro-life movement.
Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma, president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, also invoked her protection in “these difficult and trying days” for the Church.
“As you resume your deliberations on the Reproductive Health Bill, I pray that through the gracious intercession of Our Lady of Guadalupe, whose feast day we celebrate today, you may be bountifully guided by the Holy Spirit,” Palma said in a letter to lawmakers.
“Recalling Our Lady’s words when she first spoke to the Indian peasant St. Juan Diego on that cold December day on Tepeyac hill in Mexico 481 years ago, I am confident she will grant us the fruit of her affection and protection if we ask for it. In these difficult and trying days, we humbly ask for it,” he added.
Palma noted that Pope Benedict XVI had stated that “it is not the law of the strongest that must prevail” and that the public would revolt against an unjust law.
“This makes it vital for every society to remove everything that could cast suspicion on the law and its ordinances, because it is only in this way that arbitrary conduct on the part of the state can be eliminated and freedom can be experienced as something genuinely shared by all,” Palma said.
“The law will come under suspicion, and people will revolt against the law, whenever it is perceived, no longer as the expression of a justice that is at the service of all, but rather as a product of despotism, of an arrogance that is clothed in the garments of a law by those who have the power to do so,” he added.
Palma urged lawmakers to dump the RH bill, adding that the Philippines needed a law “to unite rather than divide.”
“We need law to affirm and protect the truth about the dignity of the human person, who has been created in the very image of God; the sanctity of the family, the basic social unit which even our Constitution recognizes as the foundation of the nation; and the inviolability of the social institution of marriage, which the Constitution likewise recognizes as the foundation of the family,” Palma said.
“As politics allows free men and women to participate in the divine governance of the universe, governments must enact laws whose reason and justice emanate from God,” he added.
Palma urged lawmakers to respect the “right to life, the right of married couples to found a family according to their religious beliefs and moral convictions, and to be the primary educators of their children.”
“Here as elsewhere, the truth must be the basis of the law, rather than the result of legislation,” Palma said.
“Amidst the many voices trying to influence the outcome of your deliberations, I call upon you in the words our Lord first said to Abraham, `Do not be afraid!’ Listen to what God is saying; `obey God rather than men’ (cf Ac 5:29). For `unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain’ (Ps 127), and the Lord Himself has assured us, `I am with you always, until the end of the age’ (Mt 28:20),” he added.