12/13/2006, 00.00
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Discuss constitutional changes without taking to the streets, says Cardinal Vidal

by Santosh Digal
The archbishop of Cebu announces that neither he nor the priests from his archdiocese will take part in the rallies scheduled for Sunday against proposed changes to the Filipino constitution. Instead he calls for widespread discussion at the local level and prayers for the good of the nation.

Cebu City (AsiaNews) – Card Ricardo Vidal and the clergy in Cebu will not join nationwide prayer rallies set for Sunday against steps taken by members of the House of Representatives close to current President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to change the Constitution. Changes would include a constituent assembly, a new electoral system and a new division of power.

In a statement issued on Monday, Cardinal Vidal said Cebu priests have decided to call for “widespread discussion” of the issue of Charter change at the parish level and that “prayers be ceaselessly offered to the nation.”In the past, Vidal has not been shy about calling or leading prayer rallies on secular issues close to his heart like the fight against drug abuse and the destruction of the environment. However, this time “we will not gather in the streets but instead gather inside the churches. [. . .] There will be meeting within the Church organizations to discuss the issue,” Mgr Achilles Dakay, media liaison officer for the archdiocese, said.

Representatives of the country’s major religious congregations will instead take part in the rally. For Fr Manuel de Leon, deputy chairman of the religious orders association, “the constitution is too important to be left in the hands of politicians. The Church must guide the faithful and urge them to stand on guard for the fundamental laws of the land.”

Mgr Angel N. Lagdameo, chairman of the Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, is also in favour of the initiative. In a statement he urged “all Catholics to pray as the only way to respond to the country’s crisis of leadership.”

Former Filipino President Corazon Aquino, outraged by what she calls “the attempt by administration congressmen to foist their processed idea of charter change upon the nation”, will also join the rally.



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