Church not behind case vs Celdran

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MANILA, Jan. 30, 2013— Manila’s Catholic Church refuted reports that it is behind the case file against reproductive health bill advocate Carlos Celdran who was found “guilty” of offending religious feeling.

In a statement, the Archdiocese of Manila clarified that it did not pursue the case against Celdran even though they were ‘deeply disturbed’ by what the activist tourist guide did two years ago.

“The Archdiocese of Manila did not pursue the Case against Mr. Carlos Celdran for Violation of Article 133 of the Revised Penal Code,” the statement reads.

“While deeply disturbed by the incident, then Manila Archbishop Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales gave instructions for the Archdiocese to no longer pursue the case,” it added.

Celdran gained media attention when on Sept. 30, 2010, he staged a protest inside the Manila Cathedral disrupting a prayer service and shouted that the church should “stop meddling in politics.”

The archdiocese made the statement Wednesday after President Benigno Aquino III himself asked the Church to “forgive” Celdran.

“Cardinal Rosales has long forgiven Mr. Celdran,” the statement said.  “How the case on appeal proceeds from hereon is not up to the Archdiocese of Manila or the Church but to the Courts.”

According to the archdiocese, the case against Celdran was pursued by the State represented by the public prosecutor and a lay private sector.

Based on the court decision of the Metropolitan Trial Court Branch 4, the prosecution presented witnesses, and none of whom were from the Manila archdiocese.

It said that the three witnesses who testified against Celdran were lay workers of the CBCP’s Episcopal Commission on Biblical Apostolate (ECBA) and the other was a regular churchgoer at the cathedral.

Celdran made his stunt during an ecumenical prayer service to mark the second anniversary of the “May They Be One” Bible campaign organized by ECBA and the Philippine Bible Society.

After gaining notoriety from the Catholic community, news reports quoted him apologizing for what he did.

Five months after, however, Celdran ripped an anti-RH bill tarpaulin at the CBCP office in Manila.

Caught by a closed-circuit television camera, Celdran downplayed what he did, saying in news reports that he was willing to do it again if the church will not “stop getting involved in politics and spreading lies.” (CBCPNews)

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