QUEZON City, Dec. 30, 2014—One of two controversial papal merchandise shirts produced by ABS-CBN store bearing messages wrongly attributed to Pope Francis are still on sale despite a warning issued by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) to the faithful against “patronizing items with misleading posts and statements”.
While ABS-CBN has already released an apology to the public, pulling out on Monday, Dec. 29, an item with what proves to be a “papal misquote” flashing “No race. No religion. I embrace diversity.” the other “misstatement” shirt which Catholic netizens blast as promoting moral relativism and indifferentism are still available on their online store as of 11:00 a.m. today, Dec. 30.
‘Riding on the papal visit’
Catholic lawyer and lay preacher Marwil N. Llasos of the Company of St. Dominic (CSD) pointed out that the “Ganito ako. Ganiyan ka. Who am I to judge?” shirt grossly distorts the Argentine pontiff’s views on gay people who seek God, making him seem to espouse beliefs and principles that directly violate official Church teachings.
“I appreciate the effort and the desire to help victims of typhoon ‘Yolanda’ [Haiyan] through the sales of the shirts and also to promote the visit of the well-liked pope, but not at the expense of truth, putting words in the pope’s mouth, misrepresenting his message to suit some sector’s agenda,” he told CBCP News in an interview.
According to Llasos, who is also a respected Catholic apologist and Mariologist, ABS-CBN must be factual as expected of a news organization, exercising utmost caution not to falsify the pontiff’s words.
Meanwhile, a female netizen and overseas Filipino worker (OFW) who introduces herself as “a Yolanda survivor who now works in Saudi” laments that the network “failed to do research on Pope Francis’ statement given that its real meaning has already been clarified countless times by both Vatican and secular media.
“What is worse is that you gave me and other Catholics worldwide the impression that you are merely riding on the Papal Visit to publicize Liberalist agenda (as your product implied) and has caused a great embarrassment to many Filipinos because of your outward negligence. I am writing to you this letter to express my disappointment and to ask you to revise or pull out the second t-shirt, well as, to suggest that you use the official Papal Visit theme, ‘Mercy and Compassion’ instead,” she shares.
‘Gay and searching’
The papal quotation in question as translated into English and published on the official Vatican website reads: “If someone is gay and is searching for the Lord and has good will, then who am I to judge him?”
Pope Francis continues, “The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains this in a beautiful way, saying … wait a moment, how does it say it … it says: ‘no one should marginalize these people for this, they must be integrated into society’. The problem is not having this tendency, no, we must be brothers and sisters to one another, and there is this one and there is that one. The problem is in making a lobby of this tendency: a lobby of misers, a lobby of politicians, a lobby of masons, so many lobbies. For me, this is the greater problem.”
The complete transcript of the “APOSTOLIC JOURNEY TO RIO DE JANEIRO ON THE OCCASION OF THE XXVIII WORLD YOUTH DAY PRESS CONFERENCE OF POPE FRANCIS DURING THE RETURN FLIGHT dated July 28, 2013 may be accessed on this link: http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/speeches/2013/july/documents/papa-francesco_20130728_gmg-conferenza-stampa.html. (Raymond A. Sebastián/CBCP News)