PHILIPPINES: Bishops not ‘trigger happy’ with imposing penalties

When it comes to life issues, the Catholic bishops will have to assert its obligation even if it means sanctioning those violating the church’s teachings.

Archbishop Socrates Villegas, vice president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, said Wednesday that priests have the duty to defend human life in all its stages and conditions.  He also said that they first resort to dialogue when there are misunderstandings within the Church.

Villegas, who is also chairman of the CBCP’s Episcopal Commission on on Catechesis and Catholic Education said that, “We bishops are not trigger happy with imposing penalties because we, at first, are brothers and we, at first, are fathers who need to guide and correct.”

The archbishop made the statement during a press conference for the 2012 Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines Annual Convention at the SMX Center in PasayCity.

“When we see error, the first thing that we do is to dialogue… call the child and ask for an explanation then explain my side and listen to his side,” he said. “Let us talk!”

If the dialogue does not work, Villegas said that church law dictates that they should first issue a written reprimand and then conduct an investigation.

“But if that child of the Church remains incorrigible then that is when the sanctions are imposed. And the sanctions are not always excommunication. It is not always termination from the job.  There are different degrees of sanction,” he pointed out.

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