smoke

I write better when I smoke. Don’t ask me to reduce it to a science.

This isn’t bridge building

One of the Latin titles borne by the Roman Catholic Pope is Pontifex Maximus. Today, that title is translated as Supreme Pontiff, or even High Priest. Pretty accurate, right?

But Pontifex is of much older vintage than that. The word actually comes from the ancient Roman  religion – the one where they worship Jupiter, Neptune, etc – and literally means “bridge-builder.” This was important on two levels. First, in the physical sense as it related to the worship practices of those times, it was only the priest – the pontifex – who was able to address the river god to “get his permission” for the erection of bridges. And bridges were critical to the financial and political well being of the Roman empire.

Second, on the symbolic level, it was the pontifex who was expected to “bridge” the gap between the gods and men. This is the sense of the word that prevails now and makes “Pontifex Maximus” such an apt title for the Roman Pope. He – Pope Francis today – is the one who bridges the divide between the earthly kingdom and the heavenly kingdom; he is the one who brings billions of Catholics in communion with the one God.

Breathtaking responsibility, isn’t it?

Over the last few years, however, more and more Catholics have been feeling more and more alienated from that one God who is supposed to welcome them with open arms. And the fault is often laid at the feet of the Catholic Church and its Pope – particularly the unpopular Benedict XVI – due to its policies on reproductive health, homosexuality, and child abuse by priests.

The Church’s hardline positions on these issues have been driving a deep wedge between itself and the faithful, causing the latter to drift away. Now if you were to take the hardline stance, that isn’t such a bad thing. After all, there have been bishops who have shrugged of the dwindling congregations by saying that those who remain are the true Catholics. There is a certain amount of sense in that. Religions are, by their very nature, meant to be exclusive clubs open only to those who believe in the core faith. It follows therefore that if you don’t believe, you’re welcome to leave.

But the inescapable fact is that these issues – RH, homosexuality, and child abuse – cut across religious boundaries because of the Church’s preeminence. Let me explain.

Today, the largest non-government healthcare provider in the world is the Catholic church. Considering the state of government run health facilities in many countries outside of the developed world, this means that even non-Catholics basically have no choice but to go to Catholic institutions for health services.

Now imagine going to a Catholic clinic and asking for condoms because you already have more children than you can feed? Or asking for a morning-after pill coz you’ve been raped and don’t  want to get pregnant? Nope and Nope. Condoms are prohibited, and contraception and abortion are strictly verboten. Abortion actually results in automatic excommunication.

But beyond health services, consider also the effect of 1.1 billion Catholics on public policies regarding non-discrimination against homosexuals, and the treatment of priests found to have molested minors.

These are real-world situations that, by rights, should have nothing to do with religious beliefs, and yet the very pervasiveness of the Roman Catholic Church practically define how they are professionally and officially addressed.

As a result, many people – finding their religion being used to deprive them of service and solace – end up losing their religion. Remember how I said that isn’t such a bad thing for purists? Yes, well, the Roman Catholic Church is also pragmatic and the fact is, the Church pulls down at least 4 billion US dollars a year in donations, from the American churches alone! If the number of faithful diminish, so too will the collections. It really is as simple as that.

Now this isn’t to say that it’s just a money-grubbing industry. While the Church has its share of embezzlers, much of that money still goes to funding the thousands of hospitals and missions maintained by the Church in developing countries.

Nevertheless, that’s the quandary the Church is in right now. It’s hemorrhaging believers and losing dollars. Downstream, this will mean less money for charities, hospitals, and missions. Everybody loses.

The proximate cause of this exodus of believers, everyone agrees, is the Church’s stance on reproductive health, homosexuality, and the treatment of child abuse cases. Ironically, these are the very same issues that the Church refuses to  give ground on. Again, understandable from a strictly purist point of view, but murder on the pragmatic side of the Church. In a very real sense then, the bridges of the Church to its flock are crumbling and, as a bridge builder between men and God, the Church is failing miserably.

Which is why many Catholics – and Church observers – are over the moon with Pope Francis now. This affable, selfie-taking, Argentinian has taken the world by storm with his humility and no-nonsense attitude. Many hail him as a breath of fresh air, and people are just quivering with excitement at his decidedly forward-looking statements.

In 2013, his statement “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?”  had everyone and his gay uncle jumping for joy. Here in the Philippines, formerly implacable critics of Benedict XVI were suddenly more inclined to give the Church the benefit of the doubt.

And certainly, doubt we should.

Here are the other things Pope Francis says, compiled by Salon.com

Here, a collection of his very worst quotes on the issue.

1. A Senate vote on gay marriage is a destructive pretension against the plan of God

From a letter to the Carmelite Sisters of Buenos Aires on the perils of marriage equality:

“Let’s not be naïve, we’re not talking about a simple political battle; it is a destructive pretension against the plan of God. We are not talking about a mere bill, but rather a machination of the Father of Lies that seeks to confuse and deceive the children of God.”

2. Gay marriage will destroy the family

More from the same letter to the four monasteries of Argentina:

“The Argentine people will face a situation whose outcome can seriously harm the family… At stake is the identity and survival of the family: father, mother and children.

3. Gay parenting is a rejection of God’s law engraved in our hearts

Again:

“At stake are the lives of many children who will be discriminated against in advance, and deprived of their human development given by a father and a mother and willed by God. At stake is the total rejection of God’s law engraved in our hearts.”

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4. The political struggle against marriage equality is war

And finally:

“The bill will be discussed in the Senate after July 13. Look at San Jose, Maria, Child and ask them [to] fervently defend Argentina’s family at this time. [Be reminded] what God told his people in a time of great anguish: ‘This war is not yours but God’s.’ May they succor, defend and join God in this war.”

5. Gay adoption is discrimination against children

According to the National Catholic Reporter, Francis called gay adoption a form of “discrimination against children.” A comment that resulted in a public rebuke from Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, who said that Francis’ remarks suggested “medieval times and the Inquisition.”

This isn’t bridge-building. Not in the least. And the worst part is that this dark core of anti-gay thought is now being clothed in the purest white and being sold to an adoring public, and for the most cynical of reasons – money.

 

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Filed under: church and state, international, sex, sheepage, , , ,

Temperance

It’s Christmastime, for crying out loud!

Manila Archbishop Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales has expressed what may yet be his sharpest rebuke of administration lawmakers pushing a constituent assembly (Con-ass) to amend the 1987 Constitution.

“It’s like entrusting your teenage daughter in the care of a rapist,” Rosales told reporters. “I’m sorry for the analogy, but you get the idea.”

Whatta moron. First, it was Mar Roxas. Now, it’s a prince of the fucking church descending to the gutter. WTF? 

Oh, wait.

Riiiight. THis is all GMA’s fault.

Mar Roxas’  potty mouth – as incredibly disappointing as it may have been – can prolly be attributed to his being a populist politician out to get whatever votes he can, by whatever means. Fine. But Rosales is a Cardinal of a Church that teaches, among other things, that temperance – or the avoidance of extremes – is a virtue. Where is the temperance in calling people – however obliquely – rapists? 

Jeezus Christ in a tree!

Filed under: church and state, , , , ,

B.A.D.

Seriously. People should really think abut renaming the Blog Action Day, if only to avoid the lousy acronym. 

….

Over at FV, benign0 has made something of a slogan of “It’s simple, really.” And sometimes, reading his posts, I have to wonder whether he means ‘simple’ as in ‘not complicated,’ or ‘simple’ as in ‘retarded.’

In the case of benign0’s poverty post, I daresay it’s the second one. Poverty is never a simple issue andhis textual equation (as he calls it) is a canard. He writes:

Poverty in the Philippines is a simple issue to me as it comes down to this simple textual equation:

We locked ourselves into commitments beyond any inherent ability in us to honour them.

It’s a self-evident formula that is applicable across four inescapable parameters around which our utter failure to prosper as a society can be quantified in black-and-white in a balanced scorecard:

) Population
) Consumption

( Production
( Capital

The first two, population and consumption, are relevant to the first part of the sentence, and the latter two are relevant to the second part. We laughed our way through the first two, and muddled along the latter two.

Result: POVERTY on a grand national scale.

One gets the feeling that benign0 spends the better part of everyday sitting around trying to reduce everything into pseudo-koans like that. That simplistic (in the sense of uncomplicated) reasoning is pretty attractive because it seems to put the whole problem comfortably into a nutshell. But hell. Any reasoning that fits in a nutshell belongs there. 

First off, benign0’s pseudo-koan totally ignores the fact that there are many factors that bring about poverty – especially on a ‘grand national scale’ – apart from the four he mentioned. Sure we’re over-populated, and yeah, the vast majority of Filipinos live beyond their means, but these two factors alone do not sum up the reasons why there is widespread poverty, that is to say – contrary to benign0’s sweeping generalization – Filipinos are not the only ones to blame for the widespread poverty we have now.  In fact, I would go further to say that with all these handicaps, even if the entire nation woke up one morning fitting benign0’s conception of what the perfect Filipino should be, we still wouldn’t be able to get out this quagmire within his lifetime.

Lest anyone forget, we Filipinos were doing relatively ok until the dictatorship ravaged us and left us saddled with a ginormous debt. Granted debt servicing should never have been made automatic, but the mere fact that the lion’s share of the budget goes to paying off those Marcos-era debts simply means that there’s just too little money to go around to adequately address poverty. Can you imagine just how awash in cash we would be if, for one year, we didn’t service our debts?

Can this be part of what benign0 meant when he wrote that we had ‘locked ourselves into committments …” Probably. But the thing is, even if we didn’t have autmatic debt servicing, we would still have pay our debts back. And since we started out with so much debt, it was inevitable that we would have to borrow more and more money, which really only aggravated our situation. And then too factors like the Asian financial crisis, Bush the first’s war in Iraq,  and Dubya’s war among other things have conspired to make it difficult for our country to rise above our woes.

But in his haste to pin everything on what he perceives to be the dysfunctional Filipino – hasn’t bening0 ignored all these things?

Secondly, benign0 insists that we ‘muddled along (production) and (capital). And just so we’re clear: benign0’s use of the word ‘muddled’ very clearly implies that mediocrity is what he actually means. 

Normally, I would not disagree. Most Filipinos are so besotted with small-time success that we often lose sight of the need to basically aim high. Worse, we are under the thumb of a Church that has so relentlessly pushed the message of nobility in poverty that we have entire generations lacking the motivation – the ambition – to rise beyond a certain level of comfort. And anyone who acts otherwise is often stigmatized as being too big for his britches or something similarly moronic. As a result, mediocrity is almost our default state. 

However, my disagreement with benign0 has to do with his assumption that these mediocre ones determine the fate of the nation. They do not. The prosperity of a nation ultimately lies in the hands of the ruling middle class. The people who, precisely because they are not mediocre, have managed to put up businesses that employ other people; and to end up in leadership positions where they are able to influence the growth and development of the nation. The problem with these people is, therefore, not so much mediocrity as corruption.

Our leaders, in general, are fairly competent. It’s just that they are so damned crooked. And their competence is channeled, not for the nation’s good, but for the purpose of making themselves rich. Their depradations are yet another factor that benign0 has chosen to ignore in favor of simplicity. 

I am familar with the argument that says corruption, if predictable, is not a hindrance to business. In fact, I subscribe to that belief. However, I would that for corruption to be an insignificant factor, it should not just be predicatable, it should also not be over-the-top. As one rather cynical businessman once told me, the government should strive for a 70-30 mix. 70 percent of their effort should go to serving the country; 30 percent should go to serving their own interests.

In more practical terms, it’s ok to take money from a supplier, for as long as the goods or services being supplied are not worthless. Our problem is that corrupt government usually doesn’t care how shitty the product or the service is as long as it gets its cut. That isn’t mediocrity. That’s blinding greed. And i don’t see that anywhere in benign0’s pseudo-koan.

And lastly, I take issue with benign0’s use of the word ‘inherent.’ It implies that Filipinos have some sort of limitation in terms of what we can achieve. This is bullshit. Our problem is not some glass ceiling. Our problem is that our leaders have not provided us with a ladder tall and sturdy enough to enable us to reach – and shatter – that glass ceiling. 

Poverty isn’t simple. Calling it simple … now that’s simple. And I don’t mean uncomplicated.

Filed under: church and state, Filipino, musings, politics, society, ,

We have the numbers

Rep. Janette Garin sez they have the numbers to pass the Reproductive Health Bill. Whupty-doo. I’ll believe it when the Bill passes. Y’see, it isn’t important how many Representatives support the thing in private. What matters is how they vote. Remember Imee Marcos and her last minute impeachment vote? Haha. She was one of those talking up a storm during the weeks prior to the voting, but when it came down to the wire, all she had was a mumble about how she did it for dear old mum. 

Interestingly enough, she wasn’t sent to the ethics committee for that, was she? She ought because, after all, people in her legislative district were the ones who voted her into office, not her mom. It was them she was supposed to be the voice for, not her mom.

And now, I’m afraid that all these pledges Garin seems to be counting on will come to naught. I imagine that when it comes time to man up, these Representatives will end up speaking for the interests of another mum – the Holy Mother Church – rather than for the interests of the constituents who voted for them.

Filed under: church and state, health, law and order, religion, science, sex, , ,

Paguia’s cross-ex

 

From Ducky Paredes: Alan Paguia’s cross-ex of HB 5043 proponents. 

Seriously. There was a time when I thought that Paguia might be the shit, but after reading this cross-ex, I don’t quite know anymore. I don’t even know why he would bother to put this sort of thing out unless it were to position himself as some sort of HB 5043 killer – yeah *snort*! A killer who can’t make his point without using loaded yes-or-no questions. Sheesh. When did this guy become a barangay-league un-lawyer?

Anyway, just for the exercise, let me try to be cross-examined by the redoubtable Alan Paguia.

 

On the Preamble of the Constitution

Do you believe in the sovereignty of the Filipino people?

Yes.

Do you know that under the preamble in the constitution, the Filipino people believe in almighty God?

The preamble does say that the Filipino people invoke the name of the almighty God. It is therefore safe to presume that their is a degree of belief present. Whether that belief is of a degree sufficient to actually constitute a major factor in the average FIlipino’s decision making is a different question altogether.

Do you believe in almighty God?

No. I believe in a Higher Power, but I doubt that we have the same mental image.

Do you believe in the rule of law?

Absolutely.

Do you believe the government must operate under a regime of love among the people, including the unborn?

What does that mean, a ‘regime of love’? Sounds like flower-power, old dude! What is the legal weight of a ‘regime of love?’ How do you quantify a ‘regime of love’ such that it can have true legal weight?

 

On Article II Section 12 of the constitution

Do you believe in the sanctity of family life?

Defining ‘sanctity’ as the quality of deserving respect or dedication, yes. 

Do you believe sanctity means “holiness”?

Not in this context, no. (And I resent your trying to drag religion into this issue.)

Do you believe the state must protect and strengthen the sanctity of family life?

No. While the family unit is deserving of respect and dedication, the state has no business enforcing it’s interpretation of what that ‘respect and dedication’ should manifest as, at the expense of the rights of the individuals within that family unit. 

Do you believe the family, as a basic social institution, is autonomous?

Yes.

Do you believe that autonomy of the family must be respected by the state?

Yes.

Do you believe the state must protect the life of the unborn?

Yes.

Do you believe the unborn has the right to be born?

Yes, but that there are situations when the right of the mother gains primacy.

As a general rule, would you agree the unborn is considered born if it is alive at the time it is completely delivered from the mother’s womb?

Yes.

Do you believe the state must protect the life of the unborn from its beginning until it is born?

Yes.

Do you believe almighty God’s creation of man is replicated by man’s procreation of children?

No. God didn’t fuck Eve, did He?

Would you agree the birth of a human being is preceded by a biological process?

Duh … yeah.

Would you agree that process has a beginning and an end?

Yes. Seriously. This laying-the-groundwork shit is getting mighty tedious.

Would you agree that process is either natural or artificial?

Yes already.

Would you agree the natural process is the general rule and the artificial is the exception?

Yes.

Would you agree that process, whether natural or artificial, may be generally divided into two stages, namely: (1) the unborn stage; and (2) the born stage?

Yes.

Would you agree the unborn stage has a beginning?

Yes.

Would you agree “conception” takes place within the unborn stage?

Not within. Conception is the beginning of the unborn stage (as you call it).

Would you agree “conception” cannot take place without the sperm of a male fertilizing the egg of a female?

Oh lord, Yes. But I find it strange that you seem to, considering that Jesus was conceived without anyone’s sperm. Incidentally, can the sperm of a female fertilize the egg of a male?

Would you agree conception is, generally speaking, a natural effect of a prior sexual act between a male and a female?

No. Generally speaking, conception is only one of two possible outcomes of sexual congress.

Do you believe in responsible parenthood?

Yes.

Do you believe the state should encourage sex outside the context of the “sanctity of family life”?

The state has no business encouraging or discouraging sex, except where certain reasonable strictures apply, such as the rules on rape and adultery.

Do you believe the state should discourage sex outside the context of the “sanctity of family life”?

The state has no business encouraging or discouraging sex, except where certain reasonable strictures apply, such as the rules on rape and adultery.

Do you believe in the natural and primary right and duty of parents to develop the moral character of their children?

Yes.

Do you believe the government must help develop the moral character of children?

Yes.

Do you believe the government will strengthen the moral character of the youth by promoting the use of contraceptives?

Yes. Because by emphasizing the importance of contraception, the government will teach the youth discipline. It is requires far more self-control to refrain from sex because there is no condom available than to forget that God is watching you trying to get into some girl’s pants.

 

On Article XV of the constitution

Do you believe the government will promote responsible parenthood by promoting the use of contraceptives among the youth or unmarried couples?

Yes. Abstinence is not the only form of responsible parenthood.

Do you believe the family is the foundation of the nation?

No. The individual is.

Do you believe marriage is the foundation of the family?

Not necessarily.

Do you believe the government will strengthen the nation by strengthening the family?

Not necessarily.

Do you believe the government will strengthen the family by strengthening marriage as a social institution?

Not necessarily. 

Do you believe marriage, as a social institution, is inviolable?

No. The inviolability of marriage should remain a strictly religious concept. In law, a marriage should be a contract, and a contract should be revocable with the consent of both parties.

Do you believe the government will strengthen the inviolability of marriage by promoting the use of contraceptives among the youth or unmarried couples?

First of all, a marriage – as a legal contract – should not be considered inviolable. The question, therefore, is false.

Do you believe the government will strengthen the family by promoting the use of contraceptives among the youth or unmarried couples?

Promoting the use of contraceptives will neither strengthen nor weaken the family.

Would you agree a major substance of the bill refers to the criminalization of certain acts related to reproductive health care?

Yes.

Do you believe the title of the bill, stating in part the catch-all phrase “and for other purposes”, is a fair description of the criminal acts enumerated therein?

The Bill speaks of a National Policy, and as ‘Policy’ necessarily implies that some acts will be considered considered contrary to policy and therefore subject to penalties, then yes, it is a fair description.

Filed under: church and state, law and order, religion, sex, , ,

The Two-Million Peso Man

The Senate says it has spent 2 million pesos for his security detail, but Jun Lozada has said that the religious – nuns and priests and what-not – have been paying for his expenses. Apparently, the same religious have also managed to raise 2.8 million pesos for Lozada. Isn’t that lovely?

Here, in my neighborhood, a hardworking carpenter died recently, leaving a housewife with no employable skills and no significant work-exprience, and three children, the oldest of whom is about to enroll in third year high school.

Emboldened by the local church’s very vocal support for Lozada and the Snactuary Fund, the wife pretty much begged for help.

“I don’t want to beg,” Lozada is reported to have said. “The day I beg is the day that I will be treated like a beggar.”

Well he got that right, and that was exactly how this poor woman was treated: Like a beggar. She was given 500 pesos and was asked: “Anung sasabihin mo?” The poor woman practically fell to her knees trying to express her gratitude.

I wanted to cry.

Filed under: church and state, , ,

Malthus got this one right

Heaven after Hell. That sums it up neatly for me, I think, the effect of the Roman Catholic church on Philippine society, and what it promises – especially in the context of the current rice situation.

Time to face facts: there’s too many people and too little rice. It’s not even about the cost of rice anymore (which makes that populist grandstanding about a moratorium of VAT even more stupid), but the very availability of the damned grain. From the third rice tender this year, we expected to get 500,000 metric tones of rice from international bidders, but only 325,750 metric tons was actually on offer. So how do we make up the shortfall? Even with that ludicrous rice subsidy they have going on, the supply simply isn’t there.

Worse, whatever rice is available is being snapped up at a much faster rate than normal. The idea of a looming crisis has activated the panic-buying switch in everyone. Now, it’s not just the big traders hoarding rice, it’s the small consumers. Or should I say the pseudo-small consumers?

You see, some well-off families have been gaming the system. When you reach a certain income bracket, people eat more often at restaurants than at home. For these people, the rice they buy is mostly for the house-help and the pets. Ironically, in the circles I know, these are also the largest purchasers of cheap rice. With most of these upper-income families employing at least two – up to six – house-help, they are able to buy more at those street side selling points.

First thing they do is they go quite a distance from where they actually live. When they find a selling point, the helpers line up with everyone else, only they are spaced about two-three people apart. Most of the time, they’re not noticed as strangers. But when they are, they just say they’re from so-and-so depressed community and that that place ran out of rice. They then give the sob story about having had to walk or travel far just to find rice. It’s clever, really. This story reinforces the notion that there is a shortage, and sets people a-twitter. In short order, they forget that their are strangers among them.

Once they get their quota of cheap rice, these helpers walk walk walk. Eventually, they all meet up, get in the re-conditioned van they use for going to the market and drive on home.

Last night, a friend of mine told me this story, practically beaming with pride at how canny her septuagenarian father is. Some part of me wanted to share her pride at this cultural stereotype being proven right, but a bigger part of me wanted to smack her upside the head. We’re not foreigners anymore, bitch.

But she did make one other point tho’. Part of the problem is that there are just too many people competing for a small and finite supply of rice. And for this, I blame Holy Mother Church.

Solita Monsod recently said the Church makes no difference; that people make family size decisions regardless of what the church says. I say that’s not quite accurate. While it is true that people don’t really take the Church all that seriously, the fact is the government does. And because the government is slavish to the Church it has, against all good sense, refused to make information about contraception and planned parenthood unavailable (thanks for the edit, Jeg) to the masses. Worse, condoms and IUDs are no longer given out at health centers. So, even if people actually wanted to limit the size of their families, they simply don’t know how to do it. And even if they did, they can’t get their hands on the birth control methods they need. It is this pernicious, albeit indirect, influence of the Church on the size of Filipino families that all but guarantees life on this earth can get pretty hellish.

At least in this beautiful country, it appears that Malthus was right on the money.

Filed under: church and state, education, musings, politics, society, , ,

Luxuria

Of the seven deadly sins, luxuria is my favorite. The other six – gula, avaritia, acedia, ira, invidia, and spurbia – are just too pedestrian. But deadly sins they all are. Except that it seems they are facing stiff competition from some new kids sins on the block.

In an apparent effort to address the needs of the flock in modern times, the Catholic Church has issued a decree that identifies seven “new” deadly sins.

The seven new sins are practicing birth control, biochemical experimentation, drug abuse, pollution of the environment, widening divisions between rich and poor, excessive wealth and creating poverty.

Drug abuse is certainly heinous, but whoa! So, if someone used a condom, they would go straight to hell? And what about those biochemists who are on their way to curing Alzheimer’s? Are they going to hell as well?

And what about pollution? By some lights, flicking a cigarette butt into an open drain can be considered ‘polluting the environment.’ So, if I did that, God would send me straight into the pit? And what about not using recyclable shopping bags? Or releasing methane via a fart? So, now if I fart, I go party with Beelzebub?

What the heck does “widening divisions between rich and poor” mean? The way i see it, when I work hard to earn a living, I am widening the gap between me and people who have less. I suppose this means that hard work might conceivably lead me to sin. And god forbid I win the lotto, lest I sin the sin of excessive wealth.

Oh and Gloria had better watch out too. The way her opponents are all accusing her of corruption and blaming her for rising poverty and unemployment, you can easily see that she’s the one most likely to pull off the hat trick – three new deadly sins in one fell swoop: widening the divisions between rich and poor, excessive wealth, and creating poverty.

Filed under: church and state, ,

Rosales speaks up

TOWARDS A MORALLY REBUILT NATION

(Pastoral Statement of the Archbishop, Bishops of the Ecclesiastical Province of Manila
composed of the Archdiocese of Manila, the Dioceses of Antipolo, Caloocan, Cubao, Imus,
Malolos, Novaliches, Parañaque, Pasig, San Pablo, the Apostolic Vicariates of Puerto Princesa
and Taytay, and the Military Ordinariate.)

Today we are experiencing a social and political mess. This however goes beyond the
question of truth to the search for probity. Probity is about the integrity of all, the accuser
and the accused. We are unhappy and we feel betrayed. And yet as Pope Benedict XVI
reminds us “in spite of our great disappointment our great hope can only be God who has
loved us and continues to love us to the end, until all is accomplished”, (Spe Salvi, 27).
We also know that together we have the capacity to correct and purify the nation by
starting with ourselves.

The Model for Change is the Desert.

The history of salvation teaches us that the long road to freedom inevitably passes
through the desert of purification and conversion. Having escaped from Pharaoh, via the
miraculous crossing through the Sea of Reeds, the Israelites considered themselves
liberated. But they were not yet free, because they wanted to go back to their old ways in
Egypt. “Should we not do better to go back to Egypt?” (Numbers 14:2-3).
The chosen people hesitated at the shores of the Sea and remained enslaved. So Moses
led Israel away from the Sea of Reeds, and they entered the desert of Shur. (Exodus
15:22) Believing that Pharaoh was the idolater refusing them the worship of the true God,
it was in the wilderness where the people discovered that they too were guilty worshipers
of golden idols. (Exodus 32:1-29). People were disciplined and converted from their
greed (Exodus: 17-21); and the desert which the Israelites feared to enter became for
them a place of purification, discipline and conversion, before they could enter the
promised land of freedom, forty years later. There are yet no proven easy short cuts to
conversion and renewal.

Looking back at EDSA I, euphoric and heroic as it was, it appeared that the event became
the Filipinos’ day of crossing to freedom; but that was only the first step that hardly
anyone knew. The “desert” awaited the people who would be purified and converted,
before they become fully liberated. But people preferred the convenient streets as the
easier route to an imagined freedom, and feared that the “desert experience” that awaited
conversion and new beginnings.

Corruption as the cancer of the nation.

We cannot add more to the wrath of God for lies, untruth, injustice and evil. Conscience,
as the voice of God within, already tells us what good there is to pursue and what evil to
avoid. Our people are known to be God-fearing and God-loving; sadly, they fight,
deceive and kill for money.

Shamefully, we have been known to be a nation whose prime industry has been identified
as politics simply because politics is the main route to power, which in turn, is the main
route to wealth (1). In this country people use politics to get money, and more politics to
protect more money. “Corruption radically distorts the role of representative institutions,
because they become an arena for political bartering between clients’ requests and
governmental services. In this way political choices favor the narrow objectives of those
who posses the means to influence these choices and are an obstacle to bringing the
common good of all citizens.” (Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, 411).
The subordination of the public good to individual or group interests is what corruption is
all about. In whatever form it takes, the practice of corruption is both immoral and
unjust. Corruption is worst than lies, because lies are employed only to cover it.
Whenever Government money is stolen or whenever supplier or contractors’ money is
offered as bribe to secure projects, to the disadvantage of the Government graft or
corruption is committed. Graft is the acquisition of gain by dishonest, unfair and sordid
means through the abuse of one’s position in politics, business, etc., while corruption is
the improper enrichment of politicians or civil servants or those close to them by misuse
of public power entrusted to them. [BIR, Revenue Memo Circular 12-2005]. As an
injustice to the Government and people, graft and corruption are against the Seventh
Commandment and have the added element if betraying one’s country.

The Universal and All-time Application of the Seventh Commandment.

The Seventh Commandment, “Thou shall not steal”, applies to all, as individuals or as
groups. Thus, if one holds on to money or its equivalent that is not his or hers (or theirs),
justice demands restitution of the stolen or bribe money to the owner. (CCC, 1459). If
the owner can no longer be located, then the money should be given to the poor, or to a
credible institution that will give the money for the poor or give true services for the
poor.

Restitution was the constant teaching in relation to the violation of the Seventh
Commandment in the Bible. “If anyone steals…he will pay back.” (Exodus 21:37).
“Look Lord, I am going to give half my property to the poor, and if I have cheated
anybody I will pay him back four times the amount.” With this confession, the Lord
Jesus blessed Zacchaeus with salvation. (Luke 19:8-10). The teaching of the Church on
stealing is this: No Restitution, no Absolution. In the words of Jesus: with
Restitution, there is Salvation. (Luke 19:9). An authentic conversion demands
willingness to restore what has been stolen and the resolve not to steal again.
The penitent should not be so complacent about one’s faith as to consider oneself truly
absolved before God on account of faith alone, even if one has no contrition…For faith
without penance would effect no remission of sins. (Council of Trent).

The mandate of the Seventh Commandment is also addressed to traders and ordinary
citizens in all practices of business, commerce and trading. Fraud in business, over
pricing, bribery in contracts, cheating in scales, cheating in legitimate taxes and the
smuggling of taxable goods, including also the smuggling and trafficking of substances
for abuse to damn the innocent and the weak members of society, etc. — all these are
among the many forms of violating the Seventh Commandment.

Our Response: Our desert experience.

Te old and the young, from kindergarten through high school on to the tertiary level of
education till up to the licensure exams, are all to be formed and guided towards integrity,
trained never to cheat in studies and exams. The “discipline of the desert” is to be
taught and applied, if anyone is to succeed at any level towards “the fullness of life.”
The Seventh Commandment covers not only the present corruption deals that have been
recently exposed, but also all deals, at all levels of government service, of all
administrations and governance, no matter what came out of the past or will come out of
the present or future inquiries. “Thou shalt not steal” covers also all trading of even
ordinary citizens.

We suddenly noticed that the widespread corruption we see in others is also the
corruption we detect in ourselves.

Corrupt practices and fraud prevailed in the cities, towns and even in small Barangays.
In the last two generations there had been tens of thousands of graft-ridden contracts in
Government, the biggest single controversial project ever recorded in the Philippine
history was the Westinghouse’s Bataan Nuclear Plant (2).

True liberation would mean that we enter our desert of repentance and conversion.

Change lies only at the heart of every person. Let us begin there.

Values for living justly will be preached in parishes, prayed for in the homes, re-taught in
schools, discussed in small communities and groups. Support structures will be required
for a righteous life and fair dealings. After our personal and communal “desert”
conversion, we will, please God, be ushered to the freedom we seek.

God’s Help is always needed.

We need God’s grace, if we are to encourage one another, forgive each other, pay our
debts to the justice that we all violated, and start again, not at the banks of “our Sea of
Reeds”, but beyond the streets of EDSA. Believers and lovers of God, like true
Christians do not have to hate, destroy each other even if they want to correct the
mistakes of the past or the present and of each other. Many are critical of the present
governance particularly in the areas of truth and justice. But we can restore truth and
justice without restoring to violence and hatred. A nation built on contempt is completely
unimaginable. As pastors we cannot tell you less, even if some will resent the way we
teach. It is for everybody’s good, especially the very poor among our brothers and sisters
that we now address this call for communal renewal.

We need the leaders from the highest to the lowest and their families not only to leas us,
but also to give us examples of repentance and true humble conversion. We also need
people with other ideas but with positive emotions in nation building. Given the example
and encouragement, the citizens will be inspired to follow where in the past they
hesitated to proceed — to their “desert” transformation.

Ngayon diretso na tayo sa hindi natin kaagad gustong puntahan — sa Disyerto ng ating
mga masamang karanasan at kasalanan na dapat nating baguhin! May Pag-asa ppo ang
ating Bayan at ang ating sarili. Basta’t sa pagbabago kay Kristo Hesus tayo ay
magsama sama.

In prayer let us beg Mary and Joseph to lead us back to the Christ that we had lost in the
past! God bless us all!

+GAUDENCIO B. CARDINAL ROSALES
Archbishop of Manila

BISHOP HONESTO O. ONGTIOCO BISHOP JESSE E. MERCADO
Bishop of Cubao Bishop of Parañaque

BISHOP DEOGRACIAS S. IÑIGUEZ, JR. BISHOP FRANCISCO C. SAN DIEGO
Bishop of Caloocan Bishop of Pasig

BISHOP GABRIEL V. REYES BISHOP ANTONIO R. TOBIAS
Bishop of Antipolo Bishop of Novaliches

BISHOP JOSE F. OLIVEROS BISHOP LEO M. DRONA
Bishop of Malolos Bishop of San Pablo

BISHOP LUIS ANTONIO G. TAGLE BISHOP PEDRO D. ARIGO
Bishop of Imus Vicar Apostolic of Puerto Princesa

BISHOP EDGARDO S. JUANICH BISHOP LEOPOLDO S. TUMULAK
Vicar Apostolic of Taytay (Palawan) Military Ordinariate

BISHOP FRANCISCO M. DE LEON BISHOP BRODERICK S. PABILLO
Auxiliary Bishop of Antipolo Auxiliary Bishop of Manila

BISHOP BERNARDINO C. CORTEZ
Auxiliary Bishop of Manila

Palm Sunday, March 16, 2008
(1) Samuel Huntington, Political Order in Changing Societies, p. 67.
(2) Ricardo Manapat, Some are Smarter than Others, ($1.9B in 1981 to $2B in 1982), pp.324-328;
341.

Filed under: church and state, politics, , , ,

… And from Tatooine

Not to be outdone by the bishops, evangelist Eddie Villanueva issues his call for a snap elections. Oh, come ON.

Didn’t he lose in 2004? I suppose it figures that he’s calling for a snap elections now (although its a fair bet that we can expect him to promise that he won’t run in the snaps once the re-match angle gets brought up).

But the funny part is that Eddie actually threatens Divine Retribution if no snaps are held.

Basa.

And should Arroyo refuse to heed calls for snap elections, Villanueva said joining a popular uprising would be among their considerations.

Villanueva said he was also hoping for divine intervention.

“The Lord may effectuate that great possibility if the present President remains stubborn and refuses to heed calls,” said Villanueva.

“My desire is for them not to experience the wrath of God,” said Villanueva, adding that he hopes to continue “to educate and enlighten people that the Philippines is a democratic state.”

WOOT! As if God were actually glued to ANC like the rest of us benighted fools. LOL. When will political types stop invoking God for their own petty agendas? What about “thou shalt not take the name of the lord thy god in vain,” eh, Eddie? How about that?

And what’s up with the messianic fucking complex? His desire is for us not to experience the wrath of God? Bullshit. My desire is to kick you in the ass.

Filed under: church and state, politics, ,