Sunday, July 09, 2006

Conscience or Convenience?

Reading the exchange of statements between members of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines and the Presidential Cheering Squad did seem like an apt prelude to the Pacquiao-Larrios boxing match a few days later. Heavy punches came from some Bishops while puny and fluffy jabs were sent by usual palace pugilists Bunye and Nograles. Archbishop Cruz cautioned people from swallowing the President’s convenient interpretation of the Pope’s “Well done” compliment to the President.

It was clearly in the context of the recently abolished Death Penalty Law. The Archbishop’s warning, more than a jab must have felt like a painful upper cut instantly melting the victorious smile the President beamed before international photographers after receiving the Pope’s polite and appreciative words. Instead of the President herself returning the painful punch, it was Press Secretary Bunye trying to hit Archbishop Cruz as hard as he could by saying, “Archbishop (Cruz) is not the spokesperson of the Holy See and (he) must not twist the words of the Holy Father, whose prime concerns are the plight of the poor and the full engagement of the Church in the spiritual realm, not in partisan politics,” ( Page A1, Philippine Daily Inquirer, 06/29/2006) Bunye’s punch is less effective because it lacks aim and substance. It misses the mark by hitting Archbishop Cruz’s person and more or less telling him off as having no business speaking for the Pope. Bunye’s punch even tried to draw weight from the Pope by emphasizing his concern for the “plight of the poor and the engagement of the Church in the spiritual realm instead of partisan politics.” If this were a man-to-man fight, many would have ridiculed Bunye by chiding him, “huwag kang mag-tago sa saya ng Papa” (don’t hide under the Pope’s robes).

We must not forget however, that Bunye is not really the pugilist. He is more of towel boy to the female political boxer trying to score points through her recently concluded Papal visit. In another occasion, Bishop Deogracias Iniguez of Caloocan was criticized by House Majority Leader Prospero Nograles when he added his signature to the impeachment bid against the President.

Throwing a punch ala Pacquiao at Iniguez in the form of an ironic barb, Nograles tells the Bishop to stay away from partisan politics and roots for a “stricter interpretation of the separation of Church and state.” ( Page A1, PDI, 06-29-2006) The punch became gelatinous and left no impact whatsoever. If Nograles knew how to think, he should realize how he and his fellow towel boy Bunye kept admitting that they were engaged in partisan (party and not people-centered) politics. Yes, indeed, neither Archbishop Cruz nor Bishop Iniguez play their dirty game of partisan politics. Moreover, the two Bishops also do not engage in “barabara-boxing” (unscientific, aimless and desperate boxing) always employed by the Palace towel-boys.

The weak and pathetic arguments of Press Secretary Bunye and House Majority Prospero Nograles have constantly and consistently followed the line of convenience. It was convenient for Gloria to sign the law abolishing the Death Penalty on June 24, 2006, Feast of the Beheading of John the Baptist. It was very convenient to leave for Rome the day after and to present the said law (abolishing the Death Penalty) as a gift to Pope Benedict XVI.

It was convenient to stay in Europe for awhile and come home shortly before the Pacquiao-Larrios match. Archbishop Cruz’ and Bishop Iniguez’ words and actions, to say the least are not convenient. Yet their words and deeds do carry the weight of a knock-out punch. Why? Because they do not fight for themselves but for the people…for justice and truth. Many years ago, a TV series began with a blind teacher showing David Caradine how to do Kung Fu. More and more people like Archbishop Cruz and Iniguez will learn a deeper and more effective fight…done not merely with hands, feet, eyes, ears etc…a fight from within one’s innermost self, one’s conscience….indeed, from one’s very soul.

Fr. Roberto P. Reyes
July 3, 2006


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