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Catholic Church admits clergy divided on issues
by Marie A. Surbano ("The Daily Tribune," June 20, 2005)

Manile, Philippines - While maintaining they are united, the Catholic Church hierarchy yesterday admitted that they are saddened and hurt by the reported division among its clergy on some issues.

This was the reaction given by Davao Archbishop Fernando Capalla, president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), to reports claiming that the clergy are now having difficulty reconciling their opinions.

“Whether we like it or not, this is the confusing picture being formed by media reporting that is way below the ideal. It is saddening to be asked, even by devoted church people themselves, “What's happening in the church? Why can't you bishops have a definite stand?” Capalla said.

In a statement, he stressed it may have been wrong interpretation, perception or miscommunication that might have depicted the impression of a “disunited” church since some media practitioners are interpreting the personal view of a single bishop or priest as going against the stand of the entire church.

“Unfortunately we are often quoted out of context, or at times, casual remarks are blown out of proportions and find their way into the headlines. Worse is when the resulting news stories make bishops and priests appear as though they are in conflict with one another,” Capalla's statement read.

While recognizing it is unsure whether it is intentional on the part of the media, Capalla admitted that the move was “ludicrous” since it has really caused damage especially to the credibility of the clergy who are supposed to be united and peaceful servants of the Lord.

“We are thrown into a pit and made to appear as though we were fighting when in fact we are not and it is of course ludicrous, like producing smoke when there is no fire,” added the prelate.

Capalla, moreover, admitted that they were hurt as people, particularly the faithful are now asking them if there were truths to these reports of disunity and division among its clergy.

The CBCP, being influential, is always being sought by newsmen to comment on certain issues such as the current wiretapping scandal accusing President Arroyo and Commission on Elections Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano of rigging the May 2004 polls.

But he pointed out even as there had been efforts maliciously or not to cause disunity in the Catholic Church, they are not allowing these to claim victory.

In fact, he said this could serve as a wake-up call for them to be more prayerful and renew their commitment to their vocation.

Capalla also vowed not to let “the forces of darkness and falsehood to annihilate the Body of Christ whose members are linked to one another by the thread of deep personal union with the risen Lord.”


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