CEBU'S top Catholic church leaders said they were surprised over President Benigno Aquino III's invitation to congressmen to Malacañang on the eve of the final debates over the Reproductive Health (RH) bill.
“That was a surprise to us. The three branches of the government are independent from each other and it is a surprise,” said retired Cebu Archbishop emeritus Ricardo Cardinal Vidal.
Vidal and Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma were in Manila to join the Church's lobbying against the RH bill.
Vidal said he was visited by about 40 congressmen who were opposed to the government's measure.
“It wasn't a meeting. It was a duaw lang (just a visit),” Vidal told reporters in Cebu after yesterday’s meeting of the executive committee on the canonization of Blessed Pedro Calungsod.
Vidal declined to elaborate on the meeting other than saying that they talked mostly about the RH bill.
He said among the congressmen who visited was Rep. Pablo Garcia of Cebu's 2nd district.
Vidal said he and Palma didn't expect the Congress decision to move the voting on the RH bill to an earlier schedule.
“Well as far as I know, I was surprised about how it was done. Now why? I do not know,” he said.
He said hoped legislators vote according to truth. Vidal also didn't comment on remarks that yesterday's floods is God's answer to the RH bill deliberations.
“All of these is under the providence of God. So as far as the scientific explanation is concerned, the monsoon coming to the west and low pressure area on top of Luzon caused the rains and flooding,” Vidal said.
Vidal also reiterated that Pope Benedict XVI and the Church never changed its stand against condoms and contraceptives despite the circulation of a 2010 report quoting the Pope's alleged consent that was circulated in Facebook.
He said the Pope emphasized that the world cannot solve the AIDS problem by distributing condoms.
Vidal said distributing condoms to prostitutes is “actually telling them to remain in that way of life and to continue selling their bodies. You will be degrading them further."
The cardinal urged the public to pray for the defeat of the RH bill in Congress.
Vidal said the President once told him that he cannot change his mind on the RH bill. “I hope he will be enlightened to see the truth,” he said.
Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia and Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama said they are both against the bill.
“I strongly support the Catholic Church. And it cannot be swayed by any other argument and we are pro-life. Period,” she said.
Rama agreed. “We are Catholics. It cannot be denied. We (in the Philippines) are claiming that we are the cradle of Christianity and here comes certain laws that oppose that. We should be logical in our choices,” he said.
The RH bill's provisions include public access to government-funded supplies of condoms and contraceptives. /Ador Vincent Mayol and Jessa Chrisna Marie J. Agua