Bishops have long forgiven Celdran, says CBCP exec

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Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma

MANILA, Philippines–The president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines on Tuesday said the bishops have long forgiven tour guide Carlos Celdran but the court has spoken and they could only respect its decision.

“We can only love and forgive but the decision of the court is the court’s verdict on the matter … we just say amen to the decision,” said CBCP President Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma at a Church forum in Intramuros, Manila on Tuesday.

Palma was sought for comment on the guilty verdict handed down by the Metropolitan Trial Court against Celdran on Friday.

The Manila court found Celdran guilty of offending religious feelings when he, dressed like Jose Rizal, stood in front of the main altar of the Manila Cathedral during an ecumenical service, shouted and raised a poster bearing the word “Damaso.”

When asked if the CBCP would somehow appeal to let Celdran off the hook, Palma replied, “We respected the decision of the court. It’s not for me to oppose.”

He also could not say yet whether the penalty given to Celdran was harsh since he has not read the decision yet. “I don’t know yet because we just came out of the [plenary] session and I just saw it on the TV. I just know that the Court has decided,” he said.

The CBCP has nothing to do with the case that was filed against Celdran two years ago. It was the Manila Cathedral, under the jurisdiction of the Archdiocese of Manila, that pursued the case against him.

“More than anything else, love should prevail and we have learned our lessons in the process [that] respect should be given to every religion and respect places [of worship],” said Palma.

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