While many Catholics think that the word of CBPC head Bishop Soc Villegas is the law amidst the brouhaha regarding fake news, this is not case.
Let me share the write-up of Fr. Roque Vaño of the diocese of Bohol way back in 2016 explaining why Archbishop Soc Villegas does not speak for the entire Catholic church.
When this commentary was made by Fr. Vaño, the issue was about Fr. Villegas was campaigning hard against then Mayor Duterte.
“The premise here is that Archbishop Socrates Villegas is not the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) and CBCP is not Archbishop Villegas. He only happens to be the CBCP president. It is unfair for the media to attribute to CBCP statements that Archb. Villegas issues.
To understand this better, one needs to know the structure of the Catholic Church. At the base are parishes headed by parish priests. Parishes are grouped into dioceses headed by bishops. Dioceses are grouped into archdioceses headed by archbishops.
Archdioceses are not grouped together and become CBCP headed by a president. Dioceses report directly to the Vatican through the Apostolic Nuncio (Vatican Ambassador to a country. Only the Catholic Church has ambassadors. None for Muslims, Jews, Protestants.),” Vaño wrote.
“Every diocese is autonomous. The bishop is king of his own diocese. Parishes pay taxes to the diocese. Money stops at the diocesan level. Dioceses do not pay taxes to the pope. Vatican deals directly with the bishop in most cases,” Vaño added.
Now here comes the interesting part of Fr. Vaño’s statement.
“So what is CBCP? It is a conference, a meeting. Episcopal conference is fairly new to the church. It started with Vatican II (1963-65). Every country has an episcopal conference. All bishops of a country are members. It can issue statements, initiate church programs, organize relief efforts, discuss issues related to church doctrines, activities, etc. As a new church structure, it does not have teeth like what dioceses have. Pope Francis, in his efforts at decentralization, wants to give more power to episcopal conferences.
With that as a background, we can now differentiate a) CBCP Statement approved by all bishops who meets twice a year and b) CBCP President Statement, issued by the president, although not approved by all bishops. Usually, media does not account for this difference and publishes statements of bishops as statements of CBCP as a whole.”
Lately, when Archbishop Villegas released a pastoral letter guiding the Catholics to stop sharing websites he considered fake news, Fr. Roque Vaño has a few words for Archbishop Villegas.
Once upon a time, the church had the monopoly of science and information. With the advent of the printing press came sweeping changes in Europe. The reformation and enlightenment.
In the Philippines context, changes are happening with the advent of social media. Those who enjoyed the old social order are threatened and are hell bent on preserving it. The mainstream media are trying to discredit the likes of Sasot, Thinking Pinoy, Mocha Usoon, who are using their smartphones to spread information and news. A few in the Catholic Church is trying to muzzle the competition. Smartphones are challening the pulpit. The former condemns fake news and list those sources. The latter cries foul but continues to inform. The war to get people’s attention,respect beliefs, and fidelity rages on. On thing that’s common to all is seeking for the truth. Nobody should claim monopoly.
Source: Fr. Roque Vano