Reacting to Manny Pacquiao’s statements denigrating LGBT people, an official of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) stressed in an interview with DZMM that while the LGBT community should not be condemned and should be given respect, the Roman Catholic Church continues to oppose marriage equality.
According to CBCP public affairs executive secretary Fr. Jerome Secillano, the Philippines’ Roman Catholic Church already released a catechism on this position in 2015, when CBCP president Socrates Villegas, archbishop of Lingayen, Dagupan, penned CBCP’s position on the anti-discrimination law pending in Congress.
“Ang unang-unang nilalaman nung statement ay ang pagkilala sa ganitong uri ng mga kababayan natin, sa ganitong uri ng mga tao. Sinabi rin dito na hindi natin hinuhusgahan itong mga ganitong uri ng tao (The statement contains, first of all, the recognition of these fellow Filipinos, of these kinds of people. It also states that they should not be judged),” Secillano said. “Bagkus, nakalagay din diyan sa catechism of the Catholic church na talagang dapat igalang sila, dapat pangalagaan sila at dapat himukin, hikayatin sila na madiskubre nila kung ano ba talaga tamang landas (Instead, the catechism of the Catholic church also states that they should be respected, they should be nurtured and encouraged to discover the right path).”
Showing lack of awareness on trans issues (not to mention sexual orientation and gender identity and expression), the male reporter asked about the CBCP’s position on the possible influence on children of “men dressing up as women, and women dressing up as men”.
Secillano said that the church’s position is to give respect. “Hindi po natin yan ini-encourage, hindi po natin yan tino-tolerate. Pero kung yan and kanilang pananaw sa buhay, kung yan ang kanilang orientation, we respect (We don’t encourage, we don’t tolerate. But if that is their perspective in life, if that is their orientation, we give respect).”
Secillano, nonetheless, defended Pacquiao’s position by saying that “totoo naman ang sinabi ni Manny. Sinabi lang nita ang kanyang nalalaman (what Manny said is true. He just stated what he knows). Kung siya ay hinuhusgahan dahlia sa kanyang pananampalataya (If he is judged according to his faith), it is also unfair to the guy.”
Pacquiao’s error may have been in being too brusque, Secillano said, and in not providing context to segregate the discriminatory position of his Christian belief that belittles LGBT people, and a more politically correct approach just to show tolerance of LGBT people.
All the same, Secillano said that the CBCP still does not agree with same-sex union. “Kasi sabi ko nga, bilang mga Katolikong Simbahan (As I said, as part of the Roman Catholic Church), we adhere first of all, to the teachings of Christ as written in the Bible and proclaimed to us by the church. Napakalinaw roon na (It is clearly stated there that) marriage is between a man and a woman,” he said.
In 2015, CBCP’s statement on anti-discrimination stressed that:
“This then is also the propitious time for us to call on all pastors throughout the country to be as solicitous of the pastoral welfare of all our brothers and sisters regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity. Their exclusion from the life of the Church, their treatment as outcasts, their relegation to the category of inferior members of the Church worthy only of derision and scorn certainly does not conform to Pope Francis’ vision of the Church as the sacrament of Divine mercy and compassion.
“In this regard, the Church has much to contribute towards the education of Catholics to be more accepting of others and to see through appearances the Lord present in each brother and sister. There can therefore be no more approval of parents who imbue in their children the loathing and disgust for persons with a different sexual orientation or with gender identity issues. In Catholic institutions, there should be zero-tolerance for the bullying and badgering of persons in such personal situations.”
The same position paper, however, stressed the church’s opposition of marriage equality by stating: “To the legislators who consider through future legislative initiatives giving legal recognition to same sex unions, the Church declares there is no equivalence or even any remote analogy whatsoever between marriage between a man and woman as planned by God and the so-called same sex unions.”