Top Philippine bishop promises rough ride for new laws
Apart from Vatican City, the Philippines is the only country in the world in which divorce remains illegal (AFP photo by Jay Directo)
The country’s most senior Catholic bishop yesterday vowed to block any attempt to pass new laws on divorce and same-sex marriage in the Philippines.
Archbishop Jose Palma of Cebu, president of the Philippines bishops' conference, said current bills on divorce and same-sex marriage could well go the way of the Reproductive Health (RH) Bill which languished in parliament for 14 years before its passage in December.
"While after many years the RH bill was passed, I don’t believe that the other bills would come easy," Palma said.
The Philippines "is not that excited" to follow other nations where gay marriage and divorce are legal, he added.
The archbishop was speaking after Represenative Luzviminda Ilagan, from the Gabriela women's party, said she intended to refile a divorce bill she has co-authored when Congress reconvenes next month.A number of countries including France have recently passed new laws on gay marriage or have discussed proposed legislation which would allow it.
Aside from Vatican City, the Philippines remains the only country in the world that does not legally permit divorce although Muslims are permitted to dissolve their marriages.
Although the Filipino parliament eventually passed the RH Bill, which allows the state to distribute condoms and offer sex education for free in this majority-Catholic country for the first time, the law has still not been enacted.
In March, the Supreme Court issued a temporary suspension of the law after accepting petitions from Catholic and pro-life groups who argued that it is unconstitutional.
Palma claimed that the Church is gaining ground in its fight against abortion and other measures which "attack the sanctity of life, marriage and family,” even though lawmakers have said that they are ready to tackle divorce after the RH Bill was passed.
The archbishop said he was confident that Filipino Catholics will strengthen their support of family and life, especially with activities counting down to the 500th year of Christianity in the Philippines in 2021.
“I believe that these [activities] will help in bringing the change we need," Palma said.
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