Philippine Government Cancels Mandatory Seminar For Priests

By SAR NEWS

MANILA (SAR NEWS) — The Philippine government cancelled the proposed mandatory government seminar on marriage solemnisation, after the Roman Catholic Church and other religious groups opposed the idea.

The Civil Registry Information and Management Division of the National Statistics Office (NSO) issued an order November 6, 2007, requiring solemnising officers to attend government training on marriage laws before they are licensed to preside at weddings.

“We realised that it has sparked protests, so we have decided to revoke that particular provision of the administrative order requiring an orientation seminar,” NSO administrator Carmelita Ericta said in a statement, January 10.

The 1987 Family Code of the Philippines authorises ministers to solemnise a marriage only if one of the parties belongs to the minister’s group. The NSO recorded 484,852 marriage registrations in 2006.

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), meanwhile, said they are all “happy about this turn of events.”

“I am thankful that the NSO listened to our prayers to cancel the requirement,” said CBCP president Jaro Archbishop Angel Lagdameo.

The prelates have been urging the government to cancel the required training since the topics to be taken up in the required seminar have long been part of the seminary course.

Lagdameo said their priests did not need the training anymore because they were updated with the marital laws of the land through their diocesan chancellors and Canon Law experts.

Archbishop Oscar Cruz of Lingayen-Dagupan had also criticised what he perceived as a disguised “business” venture of NSO by conducting such mandatory workshop.

Each seminar participant was supposed to pay a registration fee of 1,500-3,500 pesos, depending on arrangements for sharing of expenses. Aside from the initial seminar, solemnising officers would attend “refresher” sessions every two years.

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