CBCP slams ABS-CBN's 'misleading' Pope shirts
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) warned the public against buying "misleading" t-shirts with quotes attributed to Pope Francis, who is set to make his first visit to the Philippines in January.
In a statement on Monday, December 29, CBCP President and Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas criticized a t-shirt bearing the quote: "No Race, No Religion. I embrace diversity."
"While the words in the shirt attempt to convey the openness of the Holy Father, the [phrase] 'NO RACE NO RELIGION' [is] definitely misleading and quite frankly, erroneous," Villegas said.
The ABS-CBN store is the official online store of ABS-CBN, the country's biggest TV network. Its website bore an image of the shirt. The store sells "premium merchandise and collectible items" through computer or mobile devices.
Villegas said that the Argentine pontiff has "never said and taught that religion and race do not matter."
"Pope Francis is aware of the fact that he heads an organized religion with a vast membership throughout the world. He is also as aware that race forms part of the identity of individuals and of peoples," Villegas said.
"He has never said and taught that religion and race do not matter, because they most certainly do. It is what selfish, uncharitable and judgmental people do with religion and race that is a problem," he added.
The CBCP president urged the Catholic faithful not to patronize items with "misleading posts and statements."
In a statement, ABS-CBN apologized for the statement shirt, and said it did not mean to "deceive or mislead" the public.
"We apologize if a particular statement shirt offended anyone," the company said.
"ABS-CBN assures the public that there was no intent to deceive or mislead the public through the commemorative shirts that carry statements inspired by Pope Francis’ message of love, openness, and humility," it added.
ABS-CBN spokesman Bong Osorio also said the company will pull out the item from their online shop and partner stores. – Rappler.com