Respect for human life and marriage as an institution was the main call of Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma in his New Year’s Message for 2013.
He echoed Pope Benedict XVI’s own message for the new year.
“These principles are inscribed in human nature itself accessible to reason and thus common to all humanity,” said Palma quoting the Pope.
In a reference to the Reproductive Health bill passed by Congress, Palma, also president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, said laws that perpetrate “false rights or freedoms” cannot be called “just.” Palma’s 2013 New Year’s message also has a Cebuano version.
Jan. 1 is celebrated as the World Day of Prayer for Peace and for Catholics, the solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God.
Palma celebrated the Christmas Midnight Mass on Dec. 24 in the brightly lit Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral, that was packed with Catholic faithful.
At the side of the altar, he knelt before a large Nativity scene and prayed before he infant in the manger.
In his New Year’s Message, Palma gave thanks to God as “the Giver of Life” and urged the faithful to allow the Spirit to direct their lives.
Quoting the Pope, the archbishop said “the path to the attainment of the common good and to peace is above all that of respect for human life in all its many aspects, beginning with its conception, through its development and up to its natural end.”
In a clear referrence to the RH bill, which the Church firmly opposes, Palma added that “Neither is it just to introduce surreptitiously into legislation false rights or freedoms which, on the basis of a reductive and relativistic view of human beings and the clever use of ambiguous expressions aimed at promoting a supposed right to abortion and euthanasia, pose a threat to the fundamental right to life.”
Palma reiterated during the press briefing that the Catholic Church is “non-partisan” and leaves it to the people to choose their candidates. In response to calls for a divorce law, Palma said “there is also a need to acknowledge and promote the natural structure of marriage as the union of a man and a woman” amid attempts to legalize other kinds of couples, which he said would “harm and help to destabilize marriage./Correspondent Tweeny M. Malinao