Jan 292013
While President Benigno Aquino may not agree with how activist Carlos Celdran expressed his stance on the Church’s interference in political matters, he hopes that the country’s religious leaders will forgive Celdran’s actions.

“I may sympathize with Mr. Celdran’s position. Perhaps ‘yung methodology—during a Mass—baka we don’t agree with it,” Aquino said on the sidelines of the 40th anniversary celebration of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).

“At the same time, siguro kung tutularan ‘nung ating kaparian, ating mga religious, ‘yung ehemplo mismo ng [Santo] Papa at maraming [Santo] Papa, palagay ko lalabas naman ‘yung Christian generosity and charity at baka naman mapatawad naman nila si Ginoong Celdran para naman, ‘di ba, pwede na tayong umusad mula doon sa panahon na ‘yon,” he said.

On January 28, Celdran was found guilty of “offending religious feelings” by the Manila Metropolitan Trial Court.

The decision was in reference to a one-man protest Celdran held in September 2010, when he called for an end to the Church’s opposition to the now-passed Reproductive Health bill.

Dressed as Jose Rizal, Celdran disrupted an ecumenical service—not a Mass—in the Manila Cathedral attended by ranking bishops and city officials by holding up a placard bearing the name “Damaso,” in reference to the notorious priest in Rizal’s Noli Me Tangere.

Celdran has since apologized, but maintained that his protest was within his constitutional right to free speech.

For his part, Aquino appealed to reason, saying there is a time and place for everything.

“Syempre, may constitutional provision on freedom of speech pero ‘yung rights natin may limitations rin naman na kung ano ang pwede nating sabihin at kung saan angkop na sabihin,” he said.

CBCP: We’ve already forgiven Celdran

A leading prelate and member of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, however, said that they had already forgiven Celdran even before the judge’s decision was made.

“For me, the court has spoken and we respect the court. On our part, even long before, we have forgiven him, so whatever the court decides we respect it,” said CBCP president and Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma during a forum in Manila on Tuesday.

Palma added that he has not had the opportunity to read Manila Metropolitan Trial Court Branch 4 Judge Juan Bermejo’s decision yet.

“We respect the processes of the court and more than anything else love should prevail and we have already learned our lesson in the process. Respect should be given to every religion. Respect the place and above all we should pray,” he said. — BM, GMA News

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