AFTER repeatedly being called “diabolical,” an official of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) invited the hosts of SMNI television program “Laban Kasama ang Bayan” to a dialogue regarding his advocacy for the resumption of the peace process.

In a pastoral message, CBCP-Episcopal Commission on Social Action, Justice, and Peace (Ecsa-JP) Vice Chair Bishop Gerardo Alminaza called for a dialogue with the hosts of the “Laban Kasama ang Bayan,” where he was repeatedly assailed for his peace advocacy.

“I am most concerned with the strong statements of the SMNI against the Church people and other peace advocates, who are calling for the resumption of the peace process,” said Alminaza.

“I am, therefore, inviting all sectors, most especially the SMNI program hosts, to a prayerful discernment and a peaceful dialogue for truth and love,” he added.

The prelate said he believes that a dialogue is necessary in accordance with the teachings of Pope Francis on the need for the Church to be open for dialogue.

This, he said, includes calls to dialogue with states and political institutions; dialogue with society, including with the sciences and with culture; and dialogue with other believers, who are not part of the Catholic Church.

“A prayerful dialogue is imperative as it is through prayer that the Church engages in the battle for peace,” said Alminaza.

He reiterated that his peace advocacy is in accordance with the Church’s social teachings.

In particular, the San Carlos bishop said he is following the Lord’s commandment of love by continuing to speak on behalf of the voiceless and victims of violence and injustice.

“As a pastor in the Negros Island, and of the Church of the Poor in the Philippines, the word of the Lord emboldens me to serve the poor, and to be in solidarity with the lost, the least, and the last,” said Alminaza.

In its February 22 episode, the hosts of “Laban Kasama ang Bayan,” particularly Dr. Lorraine Marie Badoy and Jeffrey “Ka Eric” Celiz, repeatedly assailed Alminaza and his advocacies for supposedly making similar claims as the Communist Party of the Philippines–New People’s Army (CPP-NPA).

This is in response to earlier statements made by Alminaza as convenor of the Pilgrims for Peace calling for the resumption of peace talks between the Philippine government and the CPP-NPA. (HDT/SunStar Philippines)