Bishops apologize for involvement in PCSO controversy

(SPOT.ph) The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) released a statement yesterday, July 11, apologizing for the involvement of some prelates in issues with the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO), reports Manila Bulletin. Earlier reports showed that some bishops allegedly received money and sports utility vehicles from the PCSO for political patronage.

 

In the statement , CBCP president Bishop Nereo Odchimar wrote: "We are saddened that many of you, especially the youth, the poor, our Basic Ecclesial Communities, have been confused because of the apparent inconsistency of our actions with our pastoral teaching." He explained that the accused bishops "failed to consider the pitfalls" when they accepted the funds "out of their sincere desire to help their people."

 

Odchimar said that the bishops are ready to take responsibility for their actions and to face the consequences. He added, "We also assure you, our beloved people, that we shall re-examine the manner of our collaboration with government agencies for purposes of helping the poor, making sure that pastoral sensibilities are respected and the highest ethical standards are observed. We shall examine our values in the light of our vocation to be disciples of Jesus Christ."

 

At a press briefing held yesterday, Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte called the CPCP’s apology "a very welcome statement," reports Manila Bulletin. However, in a GMA News report, Sen. Panfilo Lacson said the apology does not guarantee the bishops absolution. "Saying that they accepted or received those items without malice is one thing. But you know, making people believe it was really received without malice, that’s something else. It’s up to them to convince us they accepted all those items those vehicles without malice," he said.

 

Lacson also added that the burden of proving the "donations" did not violate a Constitutional provision banning government funds to be given to religious organizations falls on the PCSO. "The burden should be on the PCSO violating the Constitution rather than (the) recipients."

 

For more on this story, log on to Manila Bulletin and GMA News.

 

 

CBCP’s Pastoral Statement published in CBCPnews.com:

 

A Time of Pain, A Time of Grace

 

Our Dear People of God,

Our Mother Church has been deeply wounded by the controversies in the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office that have erupted in the past two weeks. Some members of the Church believe in the innocence of the bishops involved in the issue, while others do not. There is no doubt that everywhere in the Church there is great sorrow. We your pastors are one with you. As shepherds struggling to love you like Jesus the Good Shepherd, we are sorry for the pain and sadness that these events have brought upon you.

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We are saddened that many of you, especially the youth, the poor, our Basic Ecclesial Communities, have been confused because of the apparent inconsistency of our actions with our pastoral preaching.

As we express our sadness, we also ask you to be slow in judgment and to conscientiously seek the whole truth behind the controversy. Let us seek the truth always in charity.

We assure you that the bishops concerned are ready to accept responsibility for their action and to face the consequences if it would be proven unlawful, anomalous, and unconstitutional. We assure you that their action was done without malice. Out of their sincere desire to help their people, they failed to consider the pitfalls to which these grants could possibly lead them. They have also expressed their readiness to do everything that is necessary to heal this wound so that we can all move forward in hope.

We also assure you, our beloved people, that we shall re-examine the manner of our collaboration with government agencies for purposes of helping the poor, making sure that pastoral sensibilities are respected and the highest ethical standards are observed. We shall examine our values in the light of our vocation to be disciples of Jesus Christ. We commit ourselves to the long journey of personal and social transformation required of all disciples of the Lord. We plead with you to walk with us in this path of constant renewal.

We express again our deep sorrow for the pain that the recent events have brought to you our beloved people. The good Lord knows our love for you. The words of the psalmist come to our mind: "My sacrifice, a contrite spirit. A humbled, contrite heart you will not spurn" (Ps.51). As the same Psalmist addresses the Lord, we take his words as our own to encourage and challenge us: "Indeed you love truth in the heart; then in the secret of my heart teach me wisdom."

 

For the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines,

+NEREO P. ODCHIMAR, D.D.
Bishop of Tandag
President, Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines
July 11, 2011

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