The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) called on Filipinos of “whatever … political color or status in society,” to stand for truth amid “the radical distortions” of history.
The Church leaders issued the call in a pastoral letter released on Friday, February 25, as the country marks the 36th anniversary of the 1986 “people power revolution” that ousted dictator Ferdinand Marcos from power.
“Let us diligently seek the truth that we may do what is right and avoid evil,” said the bishops as they noted that the “present state of division among us due to politics, is unfortunate.”
The bishops urged the faithful “not to give up on our search and defense for truth.”
They expressed dismay over the “blatant and subtle distortion, manipulation, cover-up, repression and abuse of the truth” as the national elections near.
The Church leaders lamented the spread of “fake news” and the attempt to influence elections through “troll farms which sow the virus of lies.”
“Let us examine ourselves. Perhaps we, too, sow the virus of lies, which spreads wildly, numbs our consciences,” said the bishops in their letter.
“This virus paralyzes our capacity to recognize God, respect truth and goodness. Thus, we do not realize that there is a ‘pandemic of lies,’ especially in the social media,” they said.
The bishop said many of them have witnessed the “injustice and cruelty” of the military rule during the years of Marcos’ dictatorship and the continuing human rights abuses by the succeeding administrations.
“We are alarmed by this distortion of the truth of history and the attempt to delete or destroy our collective memory through the seeding of lies and false narratives,” said the prelates.
“This is dangerous, for it poisons our collective consciousness and destroys the moral foundations of our institutions,” they said.
The bishops called on Catholics, especially the youth, “to examine carefully what is happening in our quest for a true and just society” by engaging in dialogue and discernment.
“We all seek the common good. And, in the light of the Gospel of Jesus, let us follow the path of truth, goodness, justice and peace – not the path of violence, vengeance or evil,” they added.
“Let us not give up on our search and defense for truth – by way of reason and faith, by common dialogue and discernment, prayer and action,” they said.
“Dear Brothers and Sisters, let us stand up for truth. Remember: goodness without truth is pretense. Service without truth is manipulation,” read the bishops’ letter.
“There can be no justice without truth. Even in charity, without truth, is only sentimentalism,” it added.
They said that “disrespect for truth is disrespect for freedom,” adding that if they would disregard truth, “we disregard our obligation to be accountable.”
The CBCP is a collegial body of 127 active and retired bishops and is currently headed by Bishop Pablo Virgilio David of Kalookan who assumed the body’s leadership in December 2021.