MANILA, Philippines—The absence of divorce in the country is a “point of honor for the Philippines,” according to the new papal nuncio, suggesting that the Vatican favored the Catholic Church’s opposition to legislation allowing divorce here.
The Philippines and the Vatican —Catholic bishops, priests and members of religious orders are required to practice celibacy—are the only remaining states that do not have laws allowing divorce.
Archbishop Giuseppe Pinto told reporters Saturday that Catholic bishops had the right to speak out on pressing social issues like the pending divorce bill in Congress.
However, Pinto declined to comment when asked if the Vatican was pleased with the strong position taken by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, which has clashed with the Aquino government over the reproductive health bill.
“I think it is a point of honor for the Philippines to have this… for the family and in keeping the family with the traditional…doctrine of the Church,” Pinto said at the CBCP headquarters in Intramuros, Manila.
When asked if there were instructions from the Holy See about “preserving” marriage in the country, the 59-year-old Church diplomat said, “When in question of politics like in this case…the bishops are entitled to intervene and they did in fact with their declarations.”
But he quickly added that “this is their own (initiative).”
Asked if the Vatican was satisfied with how the CBCP was standing against the RH bill, Pinto chose to be diplomatic. “The bishops themselves, they are responsible for their community,” he said. “To give judgment is not my task. My task is to collaborate with the bishops, to work together.”
Pinto, a previous nuncio to Chile and the African countries of Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Cape Verde and Senegal, said he was thankful for the way Filipinos had “warmly received” him.
Pope Benedict XVI appointed Pinto as his representative to the Philippines on May 10 after the former nuncio, American Archbishop Edward Adams, was transferred to Greece.
Pinto, who was ordained on April 1, 1978, also previously served as an apostolic delegate to Mauritania. He is a native of Noci, Italy. –Philip C. Tubeza, Philippine Daily Inquirer