By Joyce Ann L. Rocamora

PH VISIT. Vatican’s Secretary for Relations Paul Gallagher speaks to the press during a joint press conference with Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo in Manila on Tuesday (July 2, 2024). Gallagher said the Vatican has made “no diplomatic overtures” to the Philippine government over the ongoing push for divorce. (PNA photo by Avito Dalan)

MANILA – The Vatican has made “no diplomatic overtures” to the Philippine government over the ongoing push for divorce, its top diplomat said Tuesday.

Vatican’s Secretary for Relations Paul Gallagher said the issue is a “pastoral-level” and is “within the competence” of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) and the individual bishops.

“The teaching of the Catholic Church with regard to marriage is very clear, and very well known. As far as I know, there have been no communications between Rome and the local Catholic Church, certainly no diplomatic overtures to the department or to the government,” he said in a press conference during his official visit to Manila.

“We, as the Holy See, we would obviously, encourage Filipino Catholics, particularly leaders to listen to their pastors and to try and offer whatever is the best approach to this but it is essentially a matter for the bishops,” he said.

But Gallagher said he would be meeting with Filipino bishops, including those in Mindanao, to get feedback on the matter.

In May, the House of Representatives approved on third and final reading a bill reinstituting absolute divorce in the country, with 131 affirmative votes, 109 negative votes, and 20 abstentions.

The House Bill (HB) 9349, or the proposed Absolute Divorce Act, stipulates the grounds for absolute divorce, which include psychological incapacity, irreconcilable differences, domestic or marital abuse, when one of the spouses undergoes a sex reassignment surgery or transitions from one sex to another, and separation of the spouses for at least five years.

The CBCP has firmly opposed the passage of the law, saying it is “anti-family, anti-marriage, and anti-children”.

Last May, Fr. Jerome Secillano, executive secretary of the CBCP-Episcopal Commission on Public Affairs, said legalizing divorce in the Philippines is not necessary. (PNA)