A Message to the Honorable Members of Congress

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My brothers and sisters in Christ:

As you resume your deliberations on the Reproductive Health Bill, I pray that through the gracious intercession of Our Lady of Guadalupe, whose feast-day we celebrate today, you may be bountifully guided by the Holy Spirit.

Recalling Our Lady’s words when she first spoke to the Indian peasant St. Juan Diego  on that cold December day  on Tepeyac hill in Mexico 481 years ago, I am confident she will grant us the fruit of her affection and protection if we ask for it.  In these difficult and trying days, we humbly ask for it.

Our society needs law to unite rather than divide. We need law to affirm and protect the truth about the dignity of the human person, who has been created in the very image of God;  the sanctity of the family, the basic social unit which even our Constitution recognizes as the foundation of the nation; and the inviolability of the social institution of marriage, which the Constitution likewise recognizes as the foundation of the family.

As politics allows free men and women to participate in the divine governance of the universe, governments must enact laws whose reason and justice emanate from God.  As Pope Benedict XVI reminds us, “it is the specific task of politics to subordinate power to the criterion of law, thereby regulating the meaningful use of power. It is not the law of the strongest that must prevail, but rather the strength of the law…

“This makes it vital for every society to remove everything that could cast suspicion on the law and its ordinances, because it is only in this way that arbitrary conduct on the part of the state can be eliminated and freedom can be experienced as something genuinely shared by all…The law will come under suspicion, and people will revolt against the law, whenever it is perceived, no longer as the expression of a justice that is at the service of all, but rather as a product of despotism, of an arrogance that is clothed in the garments of a law by those who have the power to do so.”

Because of the enormous challenges facing you and the rest of the nation on the RH bill, I wish to commend to you these words of the Holy Father as my own, especially when he speaks of how parliamentary majorities should act on certain important questions.

“Let us suppose,” the Pope writes, “that an overwhelming majority oppresses a religious or ethnic minority by means of harsh legislation—would we then speak  of ‘justice’ or even ‘the rule of law’?  The majority principle always leaves open the question of the ethical foundation of law: Are there some things that can never be legalized, some things that always remain wrong?  On the other hand, are there some things that absolutely always remain legally binding, things that precede every majority decision, things that majority decisions must respect?” [1]

These involve such things as the right to life, the right of married couples to found a family according to their religious beliefs and moral convictions, and to be the primary educators of their children.  Here as elsewhere, the truth must be the basis of the law, rather than the result of legislation.

Amidst the many voices trying to influence the outcome of your deliberations, I call upon you in the words our Lord first said to Abraham, “Do not be afraid!”  Listen to what God is saying;  “obey God rather than men” (cf Ac 5:29).  For “unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain” (Ps 127), and the Lord himself has assured us, “I am with you always, until the end of the age” (Mt 28:20).

Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us!

St. Thomas More, pray for us!

San Pedro Calungsod, pray for us!

MOST REV. JOSE S. PALMA, DD

Archbishop of Cebu

President, Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines

12 December 2012



[1] Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Values In A Time Of Upheaval,  Ignatius Press, San Francisco, 2006

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4 Responses to A Message to the Honorable Members of Congress

  1. Why do you put a photo of Pedro Calungsod in every page instead of the cross? Are you directing the people to him than Jesus?

    “Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us!
    St. Thomas More, pray for us!
    San Pedro Calungsod, pray for us!”

    Why are you asking them to pray for you? Are they still alive?
    Does it mean that you cannot pray directly to Father God?

    President
    December 17, 2012 at 3:40 pm
    Reply

    • Are you a Catholic? Your questions show that you are not familiar with the Catechism. Anyway, Catholics honor the saints because they serve as our models, through their virtuous life and martyrdom, how to live our life and follow Jesus more closely. We also honor and venerate the Blessed Mother because of her singular role in God’s plan of salvation, her being chosen as mother of our savior–Jesus. We do not direct the people to the saints, they only serve as a go-between, an intercessor, someone whose help we ask to direct our concerns to God. Of course, we can pray directly to God, why not? But consider this analogy: sometimes we ask a friend to intercede on our behalf when we need to approach someone for a very important matter. Although we can perhaps do it ourselves, we prefer to ask the help of a friend, because we know that our friend can back us up. It is like that when we pray to the saints and ask their intercession.

      ciony
      December 17, 2012 at 4:56 pm
      Reply

      • A go-between, an intercessor… in political/government parlance, a “padrino.” An interesting practice, and, if you take it in the context of the Filipino culture as a whole, it is no wonder why the padrino system (and the resulting corruption) is quite prevalent in our society. If to get answers from our all benevolent God, we need saints to be our padrino, why then, more so do we need a padrino to get through to our (not always benevolent) local politicians or government officers! When from baptism we’ve been told to go through intercessors, how could we feel entitled to go directly to the guy in charge and ask for what we need (and expect to be heard) – instead of going through a bevy of fixers? I am Catholic; but when I go to government offices, I just can’t help but see the similarity in the practice.

        Ging
        January 2, 2013 at 7:59 pm
        Reply

        • ..and kung hanggan langit may palakasan parin, that is just so sad, isn’t it?

          Ging
          January 2, 2013 at 8:14 pm
          Reply

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