CBCP defends bishops' Mass for Arroyo

Posted at 01/27/2014 11:40 AM

MANILA - The president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines sees nothing wrong with the decision of some Catholic bishops to visit and hold Mass for former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

In a report by CBCPNews, Archbishop and CBCP head Socrates Villegas said the bishops have every right to visit the ailing former president.

"They are there in their individual capacities as bishops. It is left to their prudent judgment," Villegas was reported as saying.

Retired Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Oscar Cruz also sees nothing wrong with bishops visiting and holding Mass for the ailing lawmaker.

“Those are their own personal decisions. We have our own options,” said Cruz who also visited Arroyo last January 4 and gave her rosary.

Asked why the bishops are now paying Arroyo a visit, Cruz said it could be because of the need to join calls for a more humanitarian treatment for the former president.

On Sunday, retired Tuguegarao Archbishop Diosdado Talamayan, Bayombong Bishop Ramon Villena, Tandag Bishop Nereo Odchimar, Lucena Bishop Emilio Marquez and Nueva Caceres Archbishop Rolando Tirona visited Arroyo, who is currently under hospital arrest at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center on a plunder charge.

The five prelates held Mass for the ailing former president and now Pampanga representative, who has been detained in the hospital since December 2011.

Arroyo has received a string of well-wishers at the VMMC, where she is under hospital arrest for alleged plunder. The former leader is suffering from cervical spondylosis (chronic wear of the spine).

Other critics of Arroyo have also visited the past few months, including Jesus is Lord leader Eddie Villanueva, former AFP chief of intelligence service Victor Corpus, Lingayen Dagupan Archbishop Emeritus Oscar Cruz, and Lipa City Archbishop Ramon Arguelles.

Former Presidents Joseph Estrada and Fidel Ramos already visited Arroyo at the hospital, triggering reactions from pundits of a brewing alliance against the incumbent administration.

Former First Lady Imelda Marcos, who went to the VMMC last week, called her situation at the VMMC as “inhumane.”

With a report by CBCPNews