Our Dear People of God,
Our Mother Church has been deeply wounded by the controversies in the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office that have erupted in the past two weeks. Some members of the church believe in the innocence of the bishops involved in the issue, while others do not. There is no doubt that everywhere in the Church there is great sorrow. We your pastors are one with you. As shepherds struggling to love you like Jesus, the Good Shepherd, we are sorry for the pain and the sadness that these events have brought upon you.
We are saddened that many of you especially the youth, the poor our Basic Ecclesial Communities have been confused because of the apparent inconsistency of our actions with our pastoral Preaching.
As we express our sadness, we also ask you to be slow in judgement and to conscientiously seek the whole truth behind the controversy. Let us seek the truth always in charity.
We assure you that the bishops concerned are ready to accept responsibility for their actions and to face the consequences if it would be proven unlawful, anomalous and unconstitutional. We assure that their actions were done without malice. Out of their sincere desire to help their people they failed to consider the pitfalls to which these grants could possibly lead them. They have also expressed their readiness to do everything that is necessary to heal this wound so we can all move forward in hope.
We also assure you, our beloved people that we shall re-examine the manner of our collaboration with government agencies for purposes of helping the poor making sure that pastoral sensibilities are respected and the highest ethical standards are observed. We shall examine our values in light of our vocation to be disciples of Jesus Christ. We commit ourselves to the long journey of personal and social transformation required of all disciples of the Lord. We plead with you to walk with us in this path of constant renewal.
We express again our deep sorrow for the pain that the recent events have brought to you our beloved people. The good Lord knows our love for you. The words of the psalmist come to our mind. "My sacrifice, a contrite spirit, A humbled, contrite heart you will not spurn" (Ps 51). As the same Psalmist addresses the Lord, we take his words as our own to encourage and challenge us: "Indeed you love truth in the heart; then in the secret of my heart teach me wisdom."
For the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines,
Nereo P. Odchimar, D.D.
Bishop of Tandag
July 11, 2011