Carvajal: Pride or shame

Orlando Carvajal

ANOTHER group whose blips on the social radar mainstream media either ignore or handle with gloved hands is the Catholic hierarchy. It, however, is too socially influential that media should monitor what and how it does to promote ethical and moral social behavior.

This is even more important than monitoring government officials. If voters are helpless before almighty officials whom they elect and who are accountable to them, how much more helpless are Church-goers before religious leaders who claim to speak for God and are not accountable to anybody but the Pope who appointed them.

Could this sheepishness towards authority not be due to the people’s continuing subconscious belief that both church and civil officials speak for God as friars once programmed them to believe?

Recently media glowingly reported on the official launch by the Papal Nuncio of the preparations for celebrating 500 years of Christianity in 2021. Everybody seems to presume it should be celebrated. And if my hunch is right, it will most probably be celebrated in the pompous triumphalist way of a still largely medieval Philippine Catholic Church.

Nobody has taken on President Duterte’s off-the-cuff remark that there is no need to celebrate. My own considered opinion is that there is not much to celebrate with pride but a lot to be rued in shame.

There is no denying that after 500 years of Christianity we are a most corrupt country. Hence we also have one of the highest incidences of poverty in the region. Yet most of our unethical officials and most of us who unethically keep electing them are educational constructs of Catholic homes, Churches, and schools.

The Philosopher Hegel defines education as the art of making man ethical. That makes religious education the art of making man moral. But the fact we irresponsibly allow unethical and amoral officials (in business, government, and even in religion) to repeatedly (un)serve us is ample proof that something went very wrong with the way the Catholic hierarchy and clergy taught us Christian ethics and morals.

Vatican II tried to set things right by opening Church doors to the world, but the local Catholic hierarchy has generally rejected Vatican II and stayed its traditional medieval course.

Pope Francis also asked the clergy to smell like the sheep they are pasturing, live simply, and stop commercializing religion. Yet one is hard put looking for signs that these calls are heeded.

What Catholic bishops need rather badly is evaluate their performance and figure out what went wrong. But for this they need to consult also the sheep and not just the shepherds.

Otherwise, years later there will still be not much to showcase with pride but a lot to rue in shame.