MANILA (Mabuhay) — Broadcast network ABS-CBN pulled out on Monday T-shirts it was selling for the January visit of Pope Francis after the president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines slammed the apparel’s message as “definitely misleading and quite frankly erroneous.”
ABS-CBN spokesman Bong Osorio said the message “No Race, No Religion” printed on the shirt, part of the #PopeTYSM (Thank you sa malasakit, or Thank you for caring) line sold through the ABS-CBN Store, was not meant “to deceive or mislead the public.”
“We apologize if a particular statement shirt offended anyone,” he said. “We are pulling out the items from our online shop and all retail partner stores.”
Osorio said the statements on the shirts the network sells were “inspired by Pope Francis’ message of love, openness, and humility.”
Other shirts carry the messages, “Speak less, act more,” and “Ganito ako. Ganyan ka (I’m like this. You’re like that). Who am I to judge?”
In a statement issued earlier in the day, CBCP president Socrate Villegas, archbishop of Lingayen-Dagupan, said: “We urge our Catholic faithful NOT to patronize items with misleading posts and statements.”
“Pope Francis is aware of the fact that he heads an organized religion with a vast membership throughout the world. He is also as aware that race forms part of the identity of individuals and of peoples,” Villegas said.
He added that the pontiff “has never said and taught that religion and race do not matter, because they most certainly do. It is what selfish, uncharitable and judgmental people do with religion and race that is a problem.” (MNS)