The leaders of the Roman Catholic Church in the Philippines on Monday (7/11/2011), apologized after a few bishops accept donations from state-owned lottery businesses and make them entangled in corruption scandals.

President of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, Bishop Nereo Odchimar, say, seven bishops involved in the case is ready to "face the consequences" if they are found to violate the law. "We express our deep sorrow and grief ... that the recent events involving our loved ones," said Odchimar in a statement.

The scandal stems from accusations that President Gloria Arroyo to use state lottery funds to provide a 4WD vehicle to the seven bishops and funds 8.38 million pesos (196,000 U.S. dollars) in cash between 2007 and 2010 to buy their support. Giving the cars and the donation came as Arroyo faces impeachment crisis and corruption allegations that she cheated in the 2004 presidential election.




Philippine Senate is investigating allegations against the bishops, specifically investigating whether the donations were illegal and violated the constitutional separation between church and state. The bishops have acknowledged receiving a car and cash, but say they do it to help poor people in their communities.

Odchimar stressed again on Monday that the bishops did not admit to having done anything wrong, they are ready to accept the sanctions. "We assure you that the bishops in question is ready to accept responsibility for their actions, and to face the consequences if it proves unlawful and unconstitutional," he said.

He also admitted that the scandal has tarnished the image of the church, one of the most influential institutions in the Philippines. "We are very sad that many of you, especially young people, poor people ... have become confused because the real inconsistencies of our actions with our pastoral sermons," said Odchimar.

A woman President Benigno Aquino's spokesman said the apology the bishops were "extremely welcome".

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