Trying to mend fences, President Aquino and members of the permanent council of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) were scheduled to meet Tuesday night in Malacañang, CBCP president Archbishop Jose Palma said Tuesday.
Palma said he and 10 other members of the CBCP council were set to have dinner with the President upon his invitation.
This was the first meeting between Aquino and the bishops after the passage of the reproductive health (RH) law last December and the CBCP’s scathing pastoral letter against the administration in January.
“Apparently, he read (the pastoral letter) and it seems he wants to explain many things. If he were to explain it only to me, then I would be the only one to know about it (so) it seems he also wanted to explain to other bishops,” Palma said in an interview.
Give and take
“We do not know what we will discuss but the normal way of conversation is give and take, and sharing certain issues that would be good (for the country),” he added.
Palma said he had many concerns but would raise them only if the President asked him about these issues.
Asked about the RH law and other “death bills,” Palma said: “We have no agenda but I think (the discussion) will usually be about our common reading and stand on many issues. But when we’re asked about it, then that will come out.”
The Cebu archbishop said the bishops’ decision to accept the President’s invitation did not mean that they were softening their stand on the RH law.
“That will not happen. The stand of the Church is not for ours (to decide). That’s the Church’s. Some people think that when there’s a change of leadership in the Church, there would also be new thinking,” Palma said.
“That’s not the case. It’s the same policy all throughout. The people should understand that,” he added.
Palma said that even after he is no longer CBCP president, the Church would still oppose artificial contraception, divorce or women priests.
“That will never change. That’s the mind of the Church,” he said.