Bishops: Ivory, sex abuse controversies related to RH bill
MANILA, Philippines—Some Catholic prelates believe that the issues involving Msgr. Cristobal Garcia were being used by their enemies to discredit the Church and may also have something to do with its stand on the controversial reproductive health (RH) bill.
“The enemies are using that particular case [of Garcia] in Cebu to discredit the Church, I think,” said Sorsogon Bishop Arturo Bastes, member of the Permanent Council of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines.
“The great majority of Catholic priests are good,” he said, adding that the “smear campaign” may have something to do with their continued opposition to RH bill.
Garcia was linked by National Geographic to the illegal ivory trade. He has also been suspended and stripped of all his positions in the Archdiocese of Cebu on orders of the Vatican while the Holy See investigates the child abuse case that stemmed from accusations that he molested altar boys more than 20 years ago in the United States.
But Bastes admitted that there seems to be a need for bishops to be discreet in receiving applicants to their diocese.
“We must not receive just anyone who applies. I, for one, am very strict in admitting my own seminarians for ordination. In the priesthood, quality, not quantity, counts.” he said.
Lipa Archbishop Ramon Arguelles, former vice-chair of the CBCP Episcopal Commission on Family and Life (CBCP-ECFL), also agreed with Bastes and even identified the present administration as the one behind such efforts.
“This is related to Church’s championing life against RH bill. The present government desires to weaken all institutions that defend our country from being oppressed by foreign powers. But I know they will not succeed,” said Arguelles.