Lagman excommunicated himself, says bishop

Posted at 05/26/2011 9:55 AM | Updated as of 05/26/2011 2:01 PM

MANILA, Philippines - A Catholic bishop believes House Minority Leader Edcel Lagman has already excommunicated himself from the Catholic Church for being the prime mover of the Reproductive Health Bill in the House of Representatives.

In a report on CBCPNews, Sorsogon Bishop Arturo Bastes said there is no more need for Lagman to be excommunicated as he himself separated from the Church already.

“We do not have to excommunicate him… He is excommunicating himself by doing that. That is automatic, by himself. We don’t give him the honor to make him excommunicated,” Bastes told Church-run Radio Veritas.

Bastes explained that being in the frontline for the passage of the controversial birth control measure already shows that Lagman wants to “separate himself from the Church.”

Excommunication is a Church penalty wherein the person concerned is being separated from the spiritual benefits enjoyed by members of the Church, including the acceptance of the Holy Communion.

The Church’s Canon Law states that the only ground for an individual to be excommunicated is when he/she hurts the Pope or when he or she commits and/or is an accessory to the commission of abortion.

For his part, Msgr. Juanito Figura, secretary-general of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, said supporters of the Reproductive Health Bill should stop using excommunication to drive up publicity.

He said the bishops' group never threatened to excommunicate anyone, including the President, for supporting the bill.

Figura issued the statement after Lagman said he is also ready to be excommunicated as long as the bill is passed.

“I hope he knows what he is saying. In the first place, there’s no threat of excommunication to him, the president or anybody. It has never been talked about nor contemplated by the CBCP. That’s like putting words in people’s mouths. It is not good,” said Figura.