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Cardinal urges charm offensive but hits Aquino’s lack of faith

By Philip Tubeza
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 03:10:00 04/24/2011

Filed Under: Religion & Belief, Churches (organisations), Benigno Aquino III, Legislation, Population

MANILA, Philippines?Take it from someone who has walked the corridors of power at the Vatican.

Saying that President Benigno Aquino III was now ?losing his popularity,? Jose Cardinal Sanchez, the oldest among the country?s three living cardinals, has urged Catholic bishops to go on a charm offensive and befriend congressmen to win them over in the reproductive health (RH) bill debate.

Sanchez, 91, also lamented in an interview with CBCP News that President Aquino?s mother (the late President Corazon Aquino) and his sisters had ?more faith than him.?

?He is now losing his popularity. He has no firm idea on marriage. It is too much politics now and no longer religion. (His) mother (the late former President Corazon Aquino) and (his) sisters have more faith than him,? said Sanchez, who once oversaw the diocesan priests around the world as prefect of the Vatican Congregation on the Clergy.

Hiking Filipinos? income

Sanchez said that the government should try to improve the lot of Filipino families by increasing their income instead of ?destroying? them by pushing for the RH bill.

But with the President losing his popularity, Sanchez said that Congress would not be able to pass the bill. And a charm offensive could help.

Sanchez recalled that when he was once a bishop assigned in Bicol, he was a ?friend to all the congressmen? so it was easy for him to confront them when a proposed law contradicted church doctrine.

?If there are bills contradictory to the Catholic teachings, I would go to these congressmen one by one to enlighten them with the Catholic teachings and they would easily agree with me. And as friends, they would find it hard to go against the bishop,? Sanchez said.

However, he admitted that it would be harder to do this now since many lawmakers today are non-Christians.

What next?

Sanchez said he came back to the country from Rome to ward off the ?tendencies that threaten to destroy the Catholic Church.?

He said he was worried that same-sex marriage, which he said had been approved in Brazil?the world?s largest Catholic country?might also be ?accepted? later in the Philippines.

?I did not come here to fight the RH Bill. I came here to protect the Catholic doctrine. (The RH bill) is insignificant as far as the problems of the world are concerned. But I?m happy that it is being faced seriously by the Philippine Church,? Sanchez said.

He said that if the Church fails to reverse these ?tendencies? that threaten the Church, there would be fewer priests in the country in 50 years? time.

?The world is changing, and the evil doesn?t stop. I hope the Philippines will remain a Christian country. But I know the [Filipino] Christians are not sleeping, they keep on fighting,? Sanchez said.

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