Philippine church leaders apologise for scandal

Last Updated: Monday, July 11, 2011 - 15:45

Manila: Roman Catholic Church
leaders in the Philippines apologised Monday to their followers for a scandal involving allegedly inappropriate donations to
bishops.

Philippine lawmakers began investigating allegations last
week that the government`s lotto operator made illegal
donations in exchange for political favours from influential
church leaders friendly to ex-President Gloria Macapagal
Arroyo.

A pastoral letter issued by the Catholic Bishops
Conference of the Philippines assured followers that the
bishops concerned "are ready to accept responsibility for
their actions and to face the consequences if it would be proven unlawful, anomalous and unconstitutional."

The statement issued at the end of the bishops` biannual
assembly also said the CBCP would "re-examine the manner of
our collaboration with government agencies for purposes of
helping the poor, making sure that pastoral sensibilities are
respected and the highest ethical standards are observed."

The chairman of the state-run Philippine Charity
Sweepstakes Office, Margie Juico, told senators last week that
an audit showed that at least USD 158,600 in charity funds
were used to buy five vehicles upon the request of several
bishops.

The lotto operator raises funds for health care and other
social services. The agency routinely donates ambulances to
poor municipalities around the country.

"We are sorry for the pain and the sadness that these
events have brought upon you," said the pastoral statement
read at a news conference today by Bishop Nereo Odchimar, the
CBCP president.

The CBCP is collegial body of bishops that formulates
joint pastoral policies and programs.

Arroyo, who rarely directly responds to allegations
against her, was elected a member of the House of
Representatives after she stepped down last year. She was
traveling out of the country and her spokeswoman made no
comment.

PTI



First Published: Monday, July 11, 2011 - 15:45

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