Church for the Poor
Church for the poor
by: Harvey S. Keh
The Manila Times
AS much as I would like to show some sympathy to the bishops who are now being grilled by the public for receiving vehicle donations from PCSO, I believe that they are also at fault for being placed in this dire predicament. It was admirable that the CBCP issued a statement wherein they apologized on behalf of the bishops who accepted the vehicle donations from PCSO. The sad part about this is that the wrong decisions made by these 7 so called “Pajero” bishops has not only affected them but also the Roman Catholic Church as an institution. As a devout Catholic, I still believe that majority of our Church leaders are still pious and upright but it will need to be more strict in policing its own ranks if it wants to avoid similar controversies that may eventually turn off more of its followers.
Quid pro quo
One of my frustrations during the past administration was despite all the graft and corruption scandals that then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was embroiled in, many of our Church leaders chose to just stay quiet. I would always remember that the reason that they gave was the separation of the powers of Church and State but if this is so then why would some of their bishops request SUVs from our government? This has led many Filipinos to think that in exchange for their support, the Arroyo administration continued to shower these bishops with gifts. Perhaps this is also the reason why we have Butuan Bishop Juan de Dios Pueblos calling for the immediate resignation of President Noynoy Aquino because he knows that in this present administration there will no longer be “gifts” that will be bestowed upon his holiness. Our Church leaders are supposed to be our moral compass and should always take the high ground. They should never be beholden to just a few selfish and vested interests.
Church for the poor and powerless
Aside from writing for The Manila Times, I also write a regular column for Abante and one of my readers reacted to a recent column saying that it was very sad to hear that while thousands of very poor Filipinos have to line up for several days just to get medical treatment support from PCSO, we have bishops who drive around on SUVs given by PCSO worth more than a million pesos. I think this is a sentiment that is being felt by many Filipinos right now. We need a Church that will become more responsive to the needs of millions of Filipinos who live in poverty. Even Jesus Christ himself showed a preferential option for the mar-ginalized such as the poor, the sick and the sinners during his time here on earth as we can read from the Bible.
The Jesuit-run Ateneo de Manila University where I studied and am currently working in has also made it a priority to develop students with a passion for excellence and service. This can be seen in Ateneo’s involvement with public education reform initiatives such as Pathways to Higher Education, Synergeia Foundation and the Ateneo Center for Educational Development (ACED). Under the leadership of its former President, Fr. Ben Nebres, S.J., Ateneo was also very active in promoting Gawad Kalinga and has in fact helped build hundreds of homes in Payatas and Nueva Ecija.
Aside from Ateneo, there are also many Church leaders like Bishop Sofronio Bancud of the Diocese of Cabanatuan who has been at the forefront of working with civil society groups and schools in Nueva Ecija towards promoting good governance in their province.
This just shows that in any institution there are always good eggs and bad eggs but the challenge that our Church now faces is how it will be able to show Filipinos that they are an institution that is not insensitive to the plight of the poor and the powerless as they are now being perceived to be. They can start by living more simply and following the example of Jesus Christ who lived not among the rich and the powerful but among those who most needed his love, care and attention.
PNoy at Pinoy: A Year After
The Asia Society Philippines Foundation and the Asian Institute of Management (AIM) together with The Manila Times will be hosting a pre-SONA forum, PNoy at Pinoy: A Year After, on July 22, 2011 (Friday), 9:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. at the GLDC Room, AIM, Legazpi Village, Makati City. The forum aims to assess the first year in office of President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III. President Aquino will be assessed on the following, Politics and Governance by Mr. Mon Casiple of the Institute of Political and Electoral Reforms (IPER), Social issues by former Department of Education Usec. Mike Luz and Foreign policy and international relations by Mr. Roland Simbulan from the University of the Philippines-Manila. This event is open to the public and is free of charge. Seats are very limited. Those who wish to attend need to register by calling Nash Cordero of the Asia Society at (02) 752-4374.
Comments are welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org