Msgr. Victorino Rivas yesterday said he will not put up “Team Patay/Team Buhay” tarpaulins at the Shrine of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, also known as the Redemptorist Church, in Bacolod City because he believes it is “unchristian” to malign people.
The Diocese of Bacolod's naming of candidates it is for or against on a publicly-displayed tarpaulin is also a violation of the Canon Law of the Catholic Church, said Rivas, who is rector of the Shrine of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, and judicial vicar of the Diocese of Bacolod.
Rivas, who has a doctorate in Canon Law, is also the president of the Pope John Paul II National Institute for Studies on Marriage and the Family in Bacolod City.
Bacolod Bishop Vicente Navarra has refused to remove the 6 by 10 feet “Conscience Vote Team Patay/Team Buhay” tarpaulin in front of the San Sebastian Cathedral in Bacolod City, that bears the names of senatorial candidates and partylist groups who voted for and against the Reproductive Health Law.
The Diocese has obtained a Temporary Restraining Order from the Supreme Court to stop the Commission on Elections from removing the tarpaulin. The COMELEC has said because the tarpaulin bears the names of candidates for the May polls, it is considered an oversized campaign material, since the allowable size is 2 by 3 feet only.
The Bishop has said is not a campaign material, it merely states the Diocese's opposition to the RH Law as guaranteed under its right to freedom of expression.
Ralph Sarmiento, lawyer of the bishop, yesterday said the SC has set the oral arguments on the “Team Patay/Team Buhay” case at 2 p.m. on March 19.
Rivas said he is against the RH Law, too. In fact, red flags fly in front of the Shrine of the Our Lady of Perpetual Help as an expression of that stand, he said.
But he said he believes it is “unchristian and offensive” to tag people as belonging to team death. “As a priest, I am sensitive about maligning people,” Rivas said.
As Christians, we must denounce what is wrong but the person believed to be erring still has the right to be respected, heard and given human dignity, as stated in the Second Vatican Council's Declaration on Religious Freedom, he said.
Under the Canon Law, the Church should not name candidates it is for or against as that would be delving in partisan politics, he added.
He also stressed the need to humbly obey the law as far as the tarpaulin in front of the San Sebastian Cathedral is concerned.
On the “Team Tatay” text messages naming priests who allegedly sired children, Rivas said it is expected that when you malign somebody, it comes back to you.
“We must be careful with the language we use,” he said, adding that such development is very sad for the Church.
Rivas said there are other priests in the Diocese of Bacolod who share his position on the “Team Patay/Team Buhay” tarpaulin.
He said he is not opposing the bishop, he is merely expressing his views.*CPG