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Most Roman Catholic bishops ‘back’ President

Majority of the country’s Roman Catholic bishops support the government of President Gloria Arroyo, a senior government official said on Friday.

According to Cerge Remonde, Presidential Management Staff chief, he gathered such impression after President Arroyo met with eight Catholic bishops in Butuan City, Agusan del Norte province, to discuss and identify solutions to various issues affecting the country.

Mrs. Arroyo was visiting Northern Mindanao to bring vital services to the people and talk with local leaders on issues concerning government services, food security, and peace and order.

“A very healthy dialogue between the leaders of the church and leaders of government (came up with) a common resolution that it will be really very effective if both will work together to serve the people,” Remonde said.

“The meeting is a reaffirmation of the excellent relations between the state and the church,” he added.

The consensus reached during the two-hour meeting clearly showed that the majority of clergymen support the President, Remonde said.

He bewailed media reports allegedly sensationalizing the purported “division” within the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP).

“Many bishops are already complaining that media (are) making it appear that the CBCP is divided,” Remonde said. He stressed that the five bishops frequently criticizing the Arroyo administration are not representatives of the bishops’ position on a particular issue. Remonde did not name the five bishops.

“There are only five bishops who are against the Arroyo administration. But five against (the other) 100-plus (members of the CBCP) is not a division,” he said. Remonde was with Mrs. Arroyo in Butuan City.

The Palace official said other topics discussed during the closed-door meeting included the church’s concerns on mining, corruption, support for agrarian-reform communities, and the continued threat from insurgents.

Among those present during the meeting were Bishops Juan de Dios Pueblos of Butuan City, Antonieto Cabahug of Surigao, Nerio Odchimar of Tandag, Honesto Pacana of Malaybalay, Auxiliary Bishop Zacarias Jimenez of Butuan City, Archbishop Antonio Ledesma of Cagayan de Oro City, and Archbishop Emeritus Carmelo Morelos. (Manila Times)

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