Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Bishop's Stand, The Church's Stand.

The Lord Jesus, throughout His ministry, never encouraged rebellion or told any official to resign or come down from his position. He was a very passionate prophet in that He taught with fire and wisdom. He was a responsible leader in that He was honest to His apostles and guided them to their ultimate goal which is salvation. He was a true Messiah in that He fulfilled all the promises revealed to Israel (humankind) in His lifetime. He was a true Son in that He obeyed His Father even up to death.

The Lord Jesus, in the beginning of His ministry, organized a group of simple men who would cooperate with Him in fulfilling His ministry. By being first hand witnesses of all the things He would say and do, they were given the task of handing on these deposits of faith to the next generations. All of those deposits of faith were actually contained in Scriptures (the written Word of God). But it is also complimented by and never without Tradition (orally transmitted Word of God). By itself, the written Word of God maybe interpreted in so many ways. But, Tradition provides the context and milieu that would help reveal and give the right intention and message of Scriptures.

Scriptures and Tradition had been handed on from the apostles to the present through apostolic succession. The Church leadership, headed by the Pope and the bishops, received these deposits of faith. They are to make sure that what the apostles had seen, heard, felt, and written would be shared. Their task is to share these truths about faith as received. In the words of Teresa of Calcutta, "Give us Jesus, Only Jesus!" It is in this context and basis that the Church is coming from. The truth, falsity, and authenticity of the pronouncements and teachings of the Church is measured against the very teaching of the Lord Jesus. In other words, the Pope, bishops and other Church leaders are not free to say their own opinion in the name of the Church. In matters of faith and morals, their ministry only requires them to guide and inform the faithful as to what is in accordance with faith and what is not. As to what to do, they can not oblige the faithful although they could recommend courses of action without prejudice to the personal discernment and decision of the faithful.

The present pastoral letters of the CBCP in response to the issue of the NBN-ZTE deal and other accusation of corruption in government perfectly abides by this discipline. The bishops, thru the CBCP had been faithful to its responsibility of guiding the faithful with regards to faith and morals. They condemned in strongest terms corruption, dishonesty, injustice, abuse of the God-given environment, illegalities, and other evil ways. Contrary to the reaction and opinion of others who interpreted the statements as weak, moderated for vested interest, and an act of cowardice, it was forceful and within the authority and responsibility of the Church. It was a solid expression of her authority with utmost respect for the sovereignty of the republic.

It should be clear that the letter is neither for nor against the call for the resignation of the president. To call for the resignation of the president or any government official for that matter is a perfect example of a political act. It is a clear intervention of religion to the state. The Church is not concerned about how governments must be run but whether it is moral or not. It is the responsibility of the Church to help the state to govern morally. The constitution guarantees the guidance of God as part of its accepted guides. The CBCP saw what were needed in order to arrive at the truth regarding the issues. They also addressed the need for a radical change in all sectors in order to effect a lasting change. The two "people powers" had helped us succeed in removing our leaders but not the very cause why they were removed. The bishops realized that the mere removal of a leader does not solve the problem. If the system remained, then replacements will also govern in the same situation, and worse, they may be worse than the previous one. The CBCP, through its letters therefore tells us that what we need is a change in people and not a change of people! No amount of People Power could effect a real change if the very people in it are not changed!

We must be happy that they were not tempted to make political decisions for us. What they had done is to encourage us to make those decisions based on our faith and convictions. The bishops never said that it is against the Gospel to call for the resignation of a leader. Nor did they declare that it is alright not to do so. What they are saying is that based on one's discernment, you can declare your position. This time, the bishops are treating the faithful as responsible people and are very capable of making intelligent, rational, and moral decisions. In political matters, the faithful can lead and should lead. In matters of salvation, the Church leaders would lead.

Unfortunately, this stand was not welcomed at least by those who expect from the CBCP a declaration calling for the resignation of the president. The opposition, some NGO's, academe, other sects, and even the religious groups were all dismayed, frustrated, or not contented. That night when the bishops were meeting, many thought that it was the best time to hear a call for resignation from the respected bishops and all will break loose for a concerted effort to join the call. Many would have gone out to the streets and cry out for the change in leadership. If the CBCP, the Church, has given an imprimatur on it, then anyone can now legitimately and without guilt act for the ouster of the president.

The Church could never be made to make pronouncements and teachings that are always popular. The norm of the faith is not whether it is acceptable or not to all. The norm is whether it is faithful to the deposits of faith. The Lord Jesus, even if it would cost His life, obeyed His Father. The Church, even if she will be abandoned by its members who disagree with her teachings, would never never change her position so as to keep or regain them. The Word of God matters most. The very essence of the existence of the Church is the faith given by the Lord. If the Church would not be faithful to it, there is no reason for her continued existence.

Hopefully, this is clear to all faithful. All of these are for their own sake. That is the will of God. And God's Will is always well for us.


So many things had happened in our country for the past two months. The scandal that rocked again our country last September 2007 (NBN-ZTE deal) had been revived because of the emergence of a new "star witness" in the name of Jun Lozada, a consultant, friend and "team mate" of half-whistle blower, Sec. Romulo Neri of the NEDA. Things happened so fast that before we know it, our country is again in the middle of a crisis. Everyone is again being challenged to be involved one way or the other.

It is a temptation to make hasty decisions on these things that are happening before us. We can not deny that what we had seen, heard, and felt would prod us to make statements and positions and consequently make corresponding actions. In fact, many had done so. All of these contributed to the situation that we now have today. Just what is the situation that we now have today?

First, again, our government is under fire from certain sectors of our citizenry to clarify the alleged corruptions happening particularly the "deals" that our government are making. The presidency had been dragged into the matter because, again, it is suspected of being party to these "shady and anomalous deals". Many are of the opinion that if anomalies seem to be happening it should be the government, led by the president and the Ombudsman, who should be putting light to these. What is interesting is that our president and her cabinet seem to be disregarding if not obstructing the truth behind all of these accusations.

Second, again, those who are against the president are combining forces and making use of this issue in order to remove her from office. The left, civil society, opposition, business community, farmers, laborers, poor, some Church groups, some military personnel and others had found a common ground and had seen a common vision to act together against a common enemy. They had set aside temporarily their agenda in order to organize and be united to proceed and succeed in achieving the common goal of ousting the president.

Third, again, the senate is at the forefront of the investigation of these matters. The senate had been active in accommodating these issues because of their mandate to make laws that will help prevent crimes and/or penalize criminals. This is even to the point of grandstanding in aid of election (to political positions including the presidency). Barring deliberate use of the hearings as opportunities for exposure and positive points, the same can not be helped. However, that is not the only point. Those who are accusing the senate of not really holding the hearings in aid of legislation and therefore should stop doing it are either missing or consciously neglecting the fact that the senate also has oversight functions. The senate has the responsibility, as provided for by the constitution, to see to it that government is doing its job. Such is the framework of our government system and should not be disregarded. (By the way, where is the House of Representatives in this?)

Fourth, again, "people power" (a la EDSA 1 and EDSA 2) is being advocated in order to achieve the purpose of ousting the president and/or forcing the government to respond to the clamor of the people for truth. Time and again, "people power", though two had been successful, had been questioned as to what it really is and what are the conditions in which it should be applied. Our constitution provided it. Its context was EDSA 1. Learning from the past, it was recognized as an option by the people against an abusive government. It is interesting that there are people now who regard it as passe, dead, waned, unconstitutional, ineffective, etc. The more painful thing is that some of those who were there in both successful "people power" were the same people who are claiming the same. (Shade of the entry of the Lord Jesus to Jerusalem in the Palm Sunday liturgy?). It is clear that vested interests matter most.

Fifth, again, the Catholic Church, is involved and being regarded as a very significant actor in this whole issue. There is no problem really when the matter is about faith and morals. In whatever situation and circumstance, whenever necessary, and wherever it happens, the Church will always dispense her responsibility of guiding her flock. Again, the leadership of the Catholic Church in the Philippines, the bishops and the archbishops, met, prayed, discerned, discussed, argued, and responded. Two pastoral letters came out only to address the situation and guide the faithful on how to respond to challenges at hand. Whereas in EDSA 1 and EDSA 2, the Church was stepping on thin ice and bordering on being political, this time, she chose to remain apolitical but vigilant. The CBCP decided, though not unanimously, not to ask for the resignation of the president, but opted for strongly challenging her government to make the necessary actions to facilitate the revelation of the truth regarding the issues. Further, the CBCP believed that change in everyone is the better course to take. We may be able to change leaders, but if we do not have changed leaders, we will be back to where we were before, maybe even worse.

There is really nothing wrong with similar things coming up again. Learning from the experience of the past, we can confidently face again "again". If we will commit the same mistakes we committed before, then "again" had overcome us. If we will correct our previous mistakes and respond well, then "again" will really be a gain. The word itself should lead us to the idea that we should have nothing to lose with it. The least we could have in "again" is a gain. Come again???

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Monday, February 4, 2008

Enjoy-dom At the Enchanted Kingdom

As a last hurrah to the Christmas celebration, our family decided to visit and enjoy the magic of the Enchanted Kingdom (EK) in Sta. Rosa. It has been years since we last went there. Many of the children were not even born yet. And those who were with us were still toddlers. So, it is a return to some and a new experience to others.

Unfortunately, not the whole family was able to make it. But majority were there. It was a raining a bit when we were on our way to the EK. We decided to bring lunch so that we have something to eat in case. It turned out to be a good decision because we were only able to secure our entrance tickets about 12 noon. So, we decided to take our lunch in the cars parked outside the EK. It was still raining and therefore it was difficult to eat.In spite of that, everybody was able to have his fill. After lunch, we swarmed the gate. Everybody was excited to experience the rides. Except for a little confusion in the gates (we were more than 20!), everything went well. No one was lost. No accidents. No one was hungry! Of all, we enjoyed so much the boat ride where we all got wet. 

Next time, saan naman kaya? Disneyland? Kahit Hongkong! He he he. It is good that none of them are reading this! But why not? God willing, it will happen! That will be the day!