Sin thumbs down tithing, divorce bill
- Sandy Araneta () - July 7, 2001 - 12:00am
Manila Archbishop Jaime Cardinal Sin said yesterday he is opposed to tithing, calling debates on the issue "irreverent" in these times when the poor are already suffering.

Sin also denounced a divorce bill set to be presented in the 12th Congress as "insane" and "immoral," and assured his huge flock it would be scuttled.

"I do not favor obligatory tithing. It offends me because it hurts the poor. I do not even favor discussing the issue at this time," the archbishop said in a statement.

Tithing, or "ikapo" refers to a churchgoer’s obligatory donation of 10 percent of his income to his parish. It became a hot topic of discussion following a survey by a television station on whether or not tithing should be practiced by Catholics.

Sin said all debates on tithing are desecrating the Church of the poor.

"I am against it because it distracts us from the real and vital issues. What shall we do for the least, the last and the lost among us? What they need is not more money to receive but more meaning in life," he said.

Sin, who earlier asked President Arroyo to immediately address the plight of poor people, said the Church does not need more money but more determination to live like Christ.

"The Church was strongest when Francis of Assisi, Teresa of Jesus and Mother Teresa taught us the power of being poor children of God. What the church needs now is more piety not tithing, What the Church needs now is more simplicity not more debates," Sin said.

Meanwhile, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) denied that tithing would be implemented soon.

"No statement has been released by the Catholic Church on plans or proposals related to the issue," one CBCP source said, reacting to stories and discussions on televisions about the possible directive on tithing.

The source said CBCP spokesman Msgr. Hernando Coronel may have simply been misquoted by the television station in a recent interview on the topic.
Divorce bill ‘immoral’
Sin said he is confident there are enough sensible and intelligent legislators to fight the divorce bill, which he described as an "insane proposal."

Sen. Rodolfo Biazon earlier filed the bill as a way out for what he described as married individuals who find themselves increasingly mentally or physically abused by their partners.

The President, who is a devout Catholic, also opposed any divorce measure.

In a separate interview, Mrs. Arroyo said the people should resist the divorce law because it will weaken the Filipino family.

"The family is the central unit of society. It is the basic source of our national bond and fraternity. In the words of the Constitution, the state recognizes the sanctity of family life and shall protect and strengthen the family as the basic autonomous social institution. I believe we should protect the mandate of the Constitution on the sanctity of the family," the President said.

Divorce and abortion are illegal in the country, where 82 percent of the population are Catholics.

Sin said he is confident there are enough sensible and intelligent legislators "to fight this insane proposal."

"Divorce is immoral. It is un-Filipino. It is absurd," the archbishop said.

He likewise pointed out that the strength of the nation is in the family.

"Destroy the family by a bill like divorce and all the other values will come crumbling down. It only takes common sense to see this," Sin said.

The archbishop said divorce will only increase the number of poor people in the country.

"Divorce will bring about more spiritually impoverished children because their spirituality impoverished parents do not like to keep their marital commitments," he said.

Biazon said last week that his bill sought to amend the country’s Family Code, which only allows legal separation but bars separated couples from remarrying.

"Our civil laws on marriage justify and allow separation of married couples under certain circumstances, but forestall both spouses from pursuing marital ties with others," the senator said.

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