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Philippine bishops are not troublemakers, says new president

Villegas still vows to fight birth control law

Philippine bishops are not troublemakers, says new president

Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan reporter, Manila

July 9, 2013

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The Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) will vigorously maintain its stand on various social issues, including its opposition to a controversial law introduced last year that allows birth control, its new president said today

Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan stressed, however, that the bishops are not "social troublemakers, rally organizers, or a lobby group," but are "conscience troublemakers" and "Christ's followers."

The country's bishops, who are in Manila for their annual plenary assembly, held a Mass today to show their support for petitioners against the Reproductive Health Law who were scheduled to argue their case before the Supreme Court later in the day. 

Villegas said his election on Sunday was "unexpected," adding that "I don’t think any bishop would wish to be elected as president" of the conference.

"We in the Church, when we are given a position it does not make us taller, it just gives us longer hands so we could embrace more people," he said in an interview today.

Being president of the collegial body does not make one powerful, he said, adding it is different from being head of a school or of government.

"The president of CBCP is at the service of the bishops, so whatever the bishops say it is the duty of the president to listen and go to in that direction," he said.

The 52-year old prelate will formally assume his post on December 1.

The CBCP president and vice-president are elected for two-year terms and are traditionally re-elected for a second and final term.

Incumbent Archbishop Jose Palma, however, chose not to be re-elected so he could spend more time preparing for the International Eucharistic Congress in 2016 in his archdiocese of Cebu. 

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