MANILA, Philippines – The Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) stressed the need to care for all, regardless of sexual orientation, after the US Supreme Court declared gay marriage legal throughout the world's most powerful nation.
"All will continue to find welcome in the Church, while, under the command from the Lord himself, will continue to teach what the Church has unceasingly taught," CBCP president Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas said in a statement Saturday, June 27.
Villegas also reiterated "our commitment to pastoral solicitude of all."
He said that "no bishop, priest, deacon, religious, or lay leader actively serving the Church will ever demand to know of a person his or her orientation before serving the person, as the Lord Jesus commands all his disciples to serve."
Pope Francis, also on Saturday, tweeted a similar message without referring to the US ruling on gay marriage: "The Church is a mother with an open heart, ready to help all people, especially those who try the hardest."
Villegas released his statement after the US Supreme Court on Friday, June 26, said the US Constitution requires all 50 states to carry out and recognize same-sex marriages.
His statement reflects the pastoral approach advocated by the Pope: sticking to doctrine while remaining sensitive to the needs of individual Catholics.
Church to 'revisit presuppositions'
This is why Villegas, in his latest statement, also stressed a long-standing Catholic teaching – that marriage "is a permanent union of man and woman."
"If there is an undeniable difference between man and woman," he explained, "there is also an undeniable difference between the permanent union of a man and a woman."
The CBCP president said, "We will continue to teach the sons and daughters of the Church that marriage, transformed by the Lord Jesus and by HIs Church into a sacrament – a means by which the Risen Lord encounters his people – is an indissoluble bond of man and woman."
Reacting to the US Supreme Court ruling, he added: "Fortunately for human persons, there is so much more to us and to our dignity than what the law prescribes. While human positive law is the distillation of human experience of orderly and organized life, it does not exhaust human wisdom, nor does it have room for the wisdom of which God makes us participants."
He also said the US ruling on gay marriage "will not go unheeded."
"We shall study it with assiduousness, and revisit our concepts and presuppositions, always with an eye to being faithful to the Gospel and to the mission of the Church," Villegas said.
Palace: Up to lawmakers
In Malacañang, Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said any move to allow same-sex marriage in the country is in the hands of lawmakers.
"Some legal experts are of the view that you need to change the Constitution to be able to allow same sex-marriages; some say that you don’t, that you just need a regular legislation to be able to incorporate it in our laws. But we leave it to Congress, that discussion," Valte said in an interview on state-owned Radyo ng Bayan on Saturday.
She said that as far as President Benigno Aquino III is concerned, "he wants everyone treated equally" and to get what is due him or her under the law. But as the issue cannot be addressed by executive action, any discussion would have to be taken up by Congress. – Paterno Esmaquel II, with a report from Agence France-Presse/Rappler.com