CEBU CITY, Philippines-Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas on Friday said the Catholic Church will remain faithful to the Lord's teachings on the sanctity of marriage, even as he denounced same-sex relationships as "a tragic error of humanity."
"It is in God's plan that a man and a woman enter into that sacrament of matrimony, which Jesus himself instituted," Villegas said in a speech before lay Catholic leaders at a national conference in Cebu City on Friday. "The Church must be firm in proclaiming the truth," he added.
"In the beginning, God created them male and female, and He created them, and God said, 'It was very good,'" Villegas said, quoting Scripture on the subject of creation from the book of Genesis.
Villegas was among the speakers at the three-day National Convention on Family and Life held at Summit Circle Hotel in Cebu City from July 16 to July 18.
Speaking to about 400 people, the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) president said it had always been a part of the Church and its mission to draw humanity to the Lord.
"That first thing we should call to mind is Jesus died for all. At the cross, there were only seven words attributed to Jesus, and at the cross, He did not ask: 'Are you a homosexual? If you are, I'm not dying for you.' No. There was no such thing," he said.
While the Catholic Church denounces same-sex union, Villegas said being a homosexual was not a sin in itself.
"We do not judge. We constantly bring to them God's invitation: 'Come follow me. Come and be holy. Come and be a saint.' That is a call given to all of us," he said.
The prelate said the CBCP will issue by the end of August a pastoral letter on the care of homosexual persons, as well as the Church's doctrine and position with regard to same-sex unions.
Villegas admonished people to be careful in using the term "marriage," and never to apply it to persons who agree to a relationship with the same sex.
"Number one, it (same-sex union) is not a marriage. It is an agreement, a union, or call it whatever it is, but it is certainly not marriage," he said.