MANILA - The Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines on Wednesday urged proponents and supporters of the divorce bill to consider the "social costs" of easy dissolution of marriage, as the measure advances in Congress.
"In a context in which divorce is presented as an easy option, marriages and families are bound to break up more easily. More children will grow up disoriented and deprived of the care of both parents," the CBCP said in a statement.
The House of Representatives Committee on Population and Family Relations last month submitted a divorce bill for plenary deliberations for the first time, but Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III said it was unlikely that a similar measure would in their chamber.
While acknowledging that they are but "spiritual and moral leaders of the ecclesial communities" entrusted to its care, the CBCP said it is merely asking lawmakers to consider that divorce "might end up destroying even those marriages that could have been saved by dialogues or the intervention of family, friends, pastors, and counselors."
The legislators, who are representatives of the electorate, should "submit their personal opinions to a further consultation with their constituents" and consult with experts in various fields, the CBCP said.
"Ask people around and they [will] have no second thoughts affirming that the family remains as one of our most valued treasures as Filipinos. Do we really intend to follow the same path taken by so-called 'progressive countries' like the US where 4 out of 10 marriages end up in divorce?"
The CBCP said there are existing provisions for both canonical and civil annulments, which although not exactly the equivalent of divorce, illustrate how "seriously we take marriage as an institution" by acknowledging that some marriages might have been null and void from the start.
"The social costs that go with an easy recourse to the dissolution of a marriage when couples begin to face the difficult challenges of marital love and commitment are what we ask our legislators to consider seriously," the bishops said.
"Even couples in seemingly successful marriages would often look back and recall the countless challenges that had almost brought their relationship to a breaking point if they had not learned to transcend personal hurts through understanding and forgiveness, or sometimes through the intervention of a dialogue facilitator such as a marriage counselor," they added.