GMA ouster up to the people, not bishops – Pabillo

Speaking to more than 400 church workers here during the 38th Diocesan Pastoral Assembly, Pabillo said the bishops already have a unified stand for a stop in lies and for those involved to tell the truth.

"To call for the resignation of President Arroyo is now up to the lay faithful. It's now up for you to pray together, gather together, discuss together and decide together what to do," Pabillo said in response to a question whether the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has a unified stand.

Pabillo heads the Episcopal commission on poverty, justice and peace and chairs the National Secretariat for Social Action.

"Don't look up to the bishops. Don't expect the bishops to be politicians," Pabillo said after giving a talk on the dignity of the rural poor to Bukidnon's priests, nuns, brothers, lay ministers and other church workers.

He told MindaNews the bishops have already put to light that what's going on is wrong and should be stopped.

"The bishops already said corruption is wrong. To say whether Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo should stay as president is already a political issue that the lay people should address,” he said.

The bishop noted that the lay have the domain over economic and political issues.

He called on church members to pray, organize themselves, discuss and decide together on the political crisis.

Pabillo urged church workers to mind not only their personal ethics but also their social duties amid the political crisis hitting the national government, down to their parishes in communities.

"You can initiate an IRA (internal revenue allotment) watch in your barangays for a start to monitor how barangay officials use their 20-percent development fund,” he suggested.

Pabillo said the lay people should address the problem of ignorance, which has become a hindrance in fulfilling their Christian duties.

He also clarified that there is nothing wrong with Filipinos being Catholics, when asked by a participant about why the country is among the most corrupt in Asia despite the fact that the majority of its people are Catholics.

"We are not Catholic enough. We have limited our Catholicism to going to church and Bible studies. We did not do our social duties," he said.

He said the lay should aspire to know the social teachings of the church to be able to work for the common good.

He warned participants that there is no "middle or safe ground," stressing that mere silence allows evil to spread.

The participants to the annual assembly are expected to draft a pastoral statement Tuesday night to be presented at the end of the three-day gathering on Wednesday.

In his more than one-hour talk Pabillo stressed that after proclaiming the gospel and running the church, helping the poor is at the forefront of the church's roles.

He also named three levels of social action to work for the poor: works of mercy (for poverty alleviation), works of development (poverty reduction) and works of justice (poverty eradication). (Walter I. Balane / MindaNews)