July 22, 2013

The Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines will vigorously maintain its stand on important social issues, including its opposition to a controversial 2012 law that allows birth control, the group's new president said.

Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan, 52, stressed July 9, however, that the bishops are not "social troublemakers, rally organizers or a lobby group," but are "conscience troublemakers" and "Christ's followers."

Meeting in Manila during their annual plenary assembly, the bishops elected Villegas to head the conference.

The bishops celebrated a Mass July 9 in support of opponents of the Reproductive Health and Responsible Parenthood Act of 2012 who have challenged the law in court.