I was listening to the senate probe on the wiretapping issue when the testimony of a certain Mr. Remo struck me. He shared that he was one of those who arranged for the press conference of Atty. Samuel Ong. Just to give a brief background, Atty. Ong was in possession of a tape recording of the conversation of Pres. Arroyo with then Comelec Commissioner Garciliano. The tape was regarded as a devastating and solid evidence to prove that Pres. Arroyo cheated in the last elections. Before the press conference, the "group" (Atty. Ong, Sgt. Doble etc. inc. Mr. Remo) found refuge in Bahay-Pari which is a building the San Carlos Seminary Pastoral Formation Complex in Guadalupe, Makati City. Bishop Ted Bacani, bishop emeritus of the diocese of Novaliches, was responsible for their stay in the building. Mr. Remo claimed that they were welcomed in the building because food was prepared for them. However, the next day, in spite of the clear and present danger to the lives of would be "whistle blowers" Atty. Samuel Ong and Sgt. Vidal Doble, A Catholic bishop came and told them to get out of the complex. The bishop, according to him even added, "Wala kaming pakialam kung ano man ang mangyari sa inyo!" (We don't care what ever happens to you!") Mr. Remo commented that since then he had stopped going to church and had renounced his Catholic faith. He could not stomach the way the bishop (Church) treated them.
This is really sad. The "man of the cloth" is responsible for the lost of faith and renunciation of a faithful? Very ironic! As far as I am concerned, I would withhold judgment on the bishop or the church. Certainly, the context of the situation matters a lot. What were said and what happened before the statement are very important in order to fully understand the import of the statement. Also, what are the reasons of the church why she would urgently and "harshly" kick out the group at that time?
Unfortunately, Mr. Remo was deeply pained by what he saw and heard. His image of a pastor was shattered to the point that publicly, he renounced his faith. (This has hard consequences for Mr. Remo as far as the Church is concerned.) His statements , according to the laws of the church, subject him to the examination of his membership in the Catholic Church. My sincere hope is that it is temporary. As one senator in that hearing said, the mistake (if it was really one) of one does not speak of the whole. Mr. Remo though had a point when he said that he could not accept a faith that has such kind of pastor.
Faith has a personal dimension. It is voluntary and is decided by the person. The least we could do is to respect the response of Mr. Remo. But we must be reminded that the bishop is not the church even if the bishop acted for the church (without judging, I reiterate, the action of the bishop). Will the faith bring him to the promised destiny? Are the contents of the faith true? Are these truths from the Lord Jesus? If the answers to the questions are in the affirmative, then Mr. Remo has to reconsider his renunciation. What matters is the faith he belongs to and not merely on the mistakes or misbehavior's of the members. Needless to say, the priests, bishops and leaders of the church are not perfect people. This is not to justify the mistakes made but to remind us of the weakness and limitation of the members of the Church. Mr. Remo seems to be staking so much for so little.
In any case, what happened was very saddening.Let us hope that this will not be a standard or pattern for all Catholic Christians. Also, this serves as a reminder to pastors that they should give extreme care in dealing with the faithful. They should take great consideration of the possible misinterpretation and misunderstanding of the faithful. We must be greatful that God is a forgiving God. He is always willing to welcome those who were astray. We must do the same!