Vatican Supports Philippine Bishops on Estrada Case

Apostolic Nuncio in Philippines Denies All Reports to the Contrary

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MANILA, JAN. 7, 2001 ( The Vatican has lent its support to the position of the Philippine Episcopal Conference regarding the need for President Joseph Estrada´s resignation.

Archbishop Antonio Franco, Apostolic Nuncio in the Philippines, made this position clear to the international agency Fides. «At present, as in the past, the Holy See is in absolute harmony with the Catholic Bishops of the Philippines.»

Thus the Archbishop put a stop to rumors in the Philippine press, which stated that the Vatican Secretariat of State had distanced itself from the position adopted by Cardinal Jaime Sin, Archbishop of Manila.

At present Estrada is on trial on charges of corruption. A few days ago, Cardinal Sin and other Catholic personalities participated in a manifestation calling for the Philippine President´s resignation.

«The Holy See fully supports the Bishops´ commitment in favor of spiritual and moral values, which should also guide State institutions in their task to foster and protect the common good of citizens,» the Nuncio added.

The idea of a difference of positions between the Vatican and the Philippine Bishops arose during a discussion between Henrietta de Villa, Philippine ambassador at the Vatican, and some members of the State Secretariat. According to the Philippine ambassador, the Vatican is concerned about the local Church´s active involvement in the open appeal for the President´s resignation.

However, sources consulted by Fides, stated that the report of the Philippine ambassador´s meeting with members of the Vatican State Secretariat was inaccurate in tone, structure, and content.

The same sources reported that there has been no official intervention by the Vatican contrary to the position adopted by the Philippine Bishops, who are free to choose the best ways to integrate evangelical values in the life of the country. Moreover, they stress that, in fact, the Vatican was the object of political manipulation by some elements of the Philippine media.

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