Bishops welcome grand RH debate | Inquirer News
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Bishops welcome grand RH debate

By: - Reporter / @mj_uyINQ
/ 04:47 AM February 18, 2012

MANILA, Philippines—The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) on Friday welcomed an invitation from Congress to a grand debate to thresh out issues and enlighten the people further on the controversial reproductive health (RH) bill.

CBCP president Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma said the Catholic bishops were always “eager and willing to engage” in an endeavor that would help people make guided decisions, particularly on issues affecting morality and values about love, marriage and family.

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“As we always say, we are more than eager and willing to engage in an endeavor of making people enlightened… [so] a debate should be OK with us,” Palma said over Church-run Radyo Veritas on Friday.

Solon’s call

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Palma was responding to a call made by Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, one of the chief proponents of the family-planning measure who said that lawmakers should have more “enlightening sessions” with the Catholic bishops on the issue.

Lagman made the invitation after newly installed Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle expressed on Monday openness to resume dialogues with Malacañang, which were halted last year.

The lawmaker had suggested that the grand debate on the bill, still undergoing plenary discussions in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, can be carried out separately or jointly with representatives from Malacañang.

The CBCP president said the Church hierarchy was amenable to either a debate or a dialogue and, should it push through, Catholic bishops would tap lay people to do some of the talking especially “on the dynamics of childbearing.”

While the bishops would talk about the moral dimension of the issue, it would ask lay people to talk about maternal health and childbearing in the proposed debate “because that is not our expertise,” admitted Palma.

“It is important that we include the lay community [in the debate] because the life of women and children are basically involved,” added the senior prelate.

‘Search for truth’

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Like Tagle, the CBCP president also hoped that the proposed grand debate and the “search for truth” on the RH bill, which espouses free access of condoms and other artificial contraceptives would be conducted with sincerity.

Lagman’s proposal was also agreeable to Lipa Archbishop Ramon Arguelles.

“But we will send lay people to this debate because if we are to face the lawmakers, they would again question our authority over the matter because we are not married,” said Arguelles also over Radio Veritas.

For his part, Novaliches Bishop Emeritus Teodoro Bacani said a civil and a “very well-regulated” debate will be good for both the Catholic Church and the government.

But he believed that Lagman’s invitation for a grand debate on the family-planning measure was just a means to revive public interest on the measure.  “The RH bill is already a dead bill,” said Bacani.

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TAGS: Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), CBCP president Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma, Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle, reproductive health (RH) bill, RH bill debate
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