Saving our children and our Christian faith

Credit to Author: FRANCISCO S. TATAD| Date: Tue, 22 Jan 2019 16:25:20 +0000


IN the face of President Rodrigo Duterte’s unrelenting attack on the Catholic Church, Manila’s Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo has called on Filipino Catholics to protect their faith, as they would their young children.

How exactly are they to do that? That is the real question. Since the children are themselves under attack, Filipino Catholics do not have to choose which comes first, their children or their faith? They must choose both.

DU30 has ridiculed Catholics for believing in the Triune God, in the Crucified Christ, in the saints, and in various dogmas of the Church; bashed them for going to Mass and giving alms for the Church’s maintenance and support; badmouthed priests, and called for the killing of “useless bishops.” Otherwise, DU30 has shown no discomfort in consorting with ministers of various religious sects, like Ka Eduardo Manalo, executive minister of the Iglesia ni Cristo, whom he has made his special envoy for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), or with Pastor Apollo Quiboloy of the so-called “Kingdom of Jesus Christ, the Name Above Every Name,” where he reigns as “the appointed son of God,” and “Owner of the Universe,” and with whom DU30 shares many worldly interests.

Killing the bishops
Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo was quick to say DU30’s rant against the bishops was just “hyperbole”—an exaggerated statement not to be taken literally—perhaps like Shakespeare’s line in Henry VI, Part 2, Act IV, Scene 2, “Let’s kill all the lawyers,” which has since become a lawyer’s joke. No one should take it seriously. You do not kill a bishop unless you are prepared to make him, like the San Salvadoran bishop Oscar Romero, a great Catholic saint.

So far, three priests, and no bishops, have been killed, thus many people will probably agree with Panelo that the rant against the bishops was just a joke. Caloocan Bishop and Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) vice president, Pablo Virgilio David, D.D., arguably the most pointed critic of DU30’s extrajudicial killings, and the other bishops who refuse to be silenced, need not lose any sleep.

The danger here, though, is that some people just might irresponsibly call for the “death” of the President, just like the communist rebels marching outside the gates of Malacañang who called for the “death of Marcos” almost daily in the 1970s, and then say, before they get arrested, “it’s all a joke!” Certain things are just not for joking about. Religious belief is one such subject. Christians are extremely liberal-minded about this, but you might end up paying with your life if you crack a joke in poor taste on Islam. Salman Rushdie, who was not joking when he wrote The Satanic Verses, learned this when he heard of his fatwah.

Frozen in fear?
DU30’s threat to the Catholic faith has not quite reached the point where every Catholic must prepare to join the ranks of St. Lorenzo Ruiz, St. Pedro Calungsod and all those who were martyred for their faith. However, DU30’s blasphemies and profanities, instead of provoking an animated response, have frozen in fear many Catholics who will bravely fight for their worldly interests. We do not expect any priest, bishop or layman to torch themselves like those Buddhist monks who lit themselves to ignite the Vietnam war or the “Arab spring.” It is not part of our tradition, but we expect Catholics to do more than merely “turn the other cheek.”

This term has biblical roots, but a rereading of the passage by a modern exegete says it doesn’t mean absorbing more blows after the first one. “In the society of the time,” he writes, “one would never have used one’s left hand for any kind of social interaction, since it was considered unclean.” So, someone would likely strike you with his right hand. If he did so, he would be hitting you on your left cheek; and if you turned the other cheek, you would be daring him to hit you, this time, with the back of his right hand, or with his left hand, either one of which would be unclean. In so doing, you would be telling your aggressor that you refuse to accept the assumptions that have made his aggression possible, and that he can hit you again, if he dares, only at the cost of his bringing himself so much lower than the moral standing of his victim. This might not only stop the violence, says the exegete, but also transform the aggressor.

No noisy debate
Without engaging DU30 in a noisy debate, Catholics should find various ways of responding to the attack. Businessmen who take their faith as seriously as their businesses should have no second thoughts about withdrawing their political and financial support for DU30’s programs. Members of the police and the armed forces should have the courage to point out that they cannot, in conscience, obey orders that violate the Constitution and the law and above all God’s commandment and the Church’s Magisterium.

No one has tried this approach before. It may be time to try it now.

Now Congress has focused its most insidious attack on children. As though children have not been victimized enough, our bumbling politicians are trying to invent new ways of making them greater victims still. As a class, children are the most violated of human beings. Worldwide, where the richest 26 individuals own as much as what is owned by the world’s 3.8 billion poor people, the children of the poor are the most disadvantaged, the most exploited, the most abused of the poor.

The threat from toddlers
In areas of conflict, they are never too young to shoot and kill, or at least carry weapons and munitions for older fighters, and end as cannon fodder. In our crime-infested cities, they are forced to participate in crimes they are too young to understand, and perform some of the most dangerous roles. This is a problem to which we need the most intelligent response. But instead of trying to protect toddlers from the invasive world of crime, our legislators seem to believe they constitute the gravest threat to society, unless they are made criminally liable no longer at the age of 15, but at nine.

The House of Representatives is reportedly trying to rush the approval of a bill lowering the age of criminal liability, from 15 to nine. This is the most stupid and most dangerous proposal ever to threaten our basic understanding of what the law is, what a human being is, and what children are. There has been no substantial and extensive discussion of this proposal, but DU30 was once heard to mention it, so the congressmen decided to railroad it, since they are congressmen and believe they can pass anything they want, even though there is no rational basis for it.

Not too many congressmen may have read St. Thomas Aquinas, but to the angelic author of Summa Theologica, Western civilization owes the definition of law as an ordinance of reason promulgated by those in authority for the common good. The current House proposal is the most outstanding proof of how far we have strayed from our understanding of the human being and children and what the law is.

Henry Sy Sr., 94
I join my friends and countrymen in paying tribute to the life and legacy of Mr. Henry Sy Sr., who joined his Maker on Jan. 19, 2019 and whose remains will be interred tomorrow, Jan. 24, 2019, at the Heritage Memorial Park in Taguig. He died on top of a list of the wealthiest Filipinos, but he remained a humble man, and always poor in spirit. I ask the gentle reader to offer a prayer for the eternal repose of his soul. Thank you very much.

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