Jesus said to his disciples, “I have come to bring fire upon the earth and how I wish it were already kindled; but I have a baptism to undergo and what anguish I feel until it is over!
Do you think that I have come to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. From now on, in one house five will be divided; three against two, and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father; mother against daughter and daughter against mother; mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law, and daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. (And bishops against bishops, if I may add!)
That Gospel passage for today from Luke 12:49-53 appears to be providentially so timely and relevant. And so to continue the first part of this blog article, yesterday I came to the conclusion that the main relevant question in the three Luzon Bishops' ( Most Reverends Antonio Tobias of Novaliches City, Deogracias Iñiguez, Jr. of Caloocan City and Quezon Bishop Emeritus Julio Labayen ) public call for the resignation of GMA, was basically a moral issue, considering the fact that voluntary or even induced resignation is explicitly provided for in our Constitution.
My thesis for today is that those three Bishops, when they called for GMA's resignation together with a large group of lay activists in the civic-political arena, were legitimately performing their episcopal duty consistent with Article 3 ( The Church, Mother and Teacher) paragraph 2032 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and I quote;
Section I: Moral Life and the Magisterium:
“ The Church, the pillar and bulwark of the truth has received this solemn covenant of Christ from the Apostles to announce the saving Truth. To the Church belongs the right always and everywhere to announce MORAL principles, including those pertaining to the social order, and to make judgments on any human affairs, to the extent that they are required by the fundamental rights of the human person or the salvation of souls.” (emphasis added)
And what were these “moral principles pertaining to the social order“ on which the three Bishops made their public judgment as required by the “fundamental rights” of (our people) or the “salvation of souls”? And whose souls were at stake for all eternity?
Reduced to its basic and generic terms, these relevant moral principles have been centered for the last three years especially the past six months, on Presidential cheating and stealing, lying and hypocrisy! And so it is obvious as to whose souls are in everlasting peril, to whom also our Bishops CORRECTLY and appropriately have made their well-considered moral judgment as their basis for asking GMA to RESIGN. And hopefully to REPENT and REFORM subsequently!
And by the way, paragraph 12 of the Prologue of the Catechism, states that it is “intended primarily for those responsible for Catechesis, first of all (for) the Bishops, as teachers of the faithful and pastors of the Church.”
And incidentally too, nowhere in the entire three sections on “Morality” covered by Article 3 “The Church, Mother and Teacher”, is there any mention at all that such mandated moral judgments by the bishops who compose the Magisterium, must first and necessarily be preceded by civil authorities' investigations and determination of the circumstantial facts underlying the moral issues involved. And thus much less, to require supporting “authentic evidence that cannot be denied”. MORAL CERTAINTY is sufficient!
In fact the reverse situation is mandatory! Thus, pronouncements on morality by the Church will trump civil authorities' factfinding processes! Civil concurrence is welcome, but NOT necessary. For elsewhere in Paragraphs 1902, 1903 and 1916 on “Participation in Social Life” it says, and I quote:
“Authority (civil) does NOT derive its moral legitimacy from itself. It must not behave in a despotic manner, but must act for the common good as a moral force, based on freedom and a sense of responsibility.” (1902)
“Authority is exercised legitimately only when it seeks the common good of the group concerned and only if it employs morally licit means to attain it . If rulers were to enact unjust laws or take measures contrary to the moral order, such arrangements would not be binding in conscience. In such a case, authority breaks down completely and results in shameful abuse.” (1903) And if I may add further to the emphasis --how accurate and prophetic these catechetical instructions are to the present situation in the Philippines!
“... Fraud and other subterfuges, by which some people evade the constraints of the law and the prescriptions of the societal obligation, must be firmly condemned because they are incompatible with the requirements of justice......” (1916) Again how accurate and prophetic!
The only stricture that the Catechism imposes on the Church Magisterium as moral teachers and prophets, is its consistent exhortation for the exercising of the four cardinal virtues of Prudence, Justice, Fortitude, Temperance and the three theological virtues of Faith , Hope and Charity above all.
Nevertheless the problem remains here and now, in the Philippines, because of the CONFUSION generated by the subsequent and public contradictory judgment made by these 18 Mindanao Bishops. It looms large and disturbs us and numerous other Catholics. Let's hope and pray that it will somehow be resolved...
How excitedly I wish that many if not all of our 18 Mindanao Bishops who publicly contradicted Bishops Tobias, Iñiguez, Jr. and Labayen were able to witness the live TV broadcast of this morning's testimonies of Joey de Venecia III and newspaper columnist Jarius Bondoc before the joint Senate investigation committees. Common sense and ordinary discernment should lead them to the conclusion that Joey de Venecia and Jarius Bondoc were SUBSTANTIALLY TELLING THE TRUTH! Especially during that part of their testimony where an even graver and more alarming presidential moral issue came into the picture -- “Thou shall not kill!”
And thus I hope that some if not all of those 18 Mindanao Bishops after listening to the courageous witness accounts of “Joey and Jarius”, will publicly retract their dissenting statements against their three Luzon bishop-colleagues and their own CBCP President as well. Thereby they will certainly refurbish the MORAL CREDIBILITY of the Catholic Bishops of the Philippines.
I'll end up this long and last minute addendum with these scriptural messages on admonishment of sinners and warnings against scandal.
“If your brother or sister has sinned against you, go and point the fault when the two of you are in private, and if he listens to you, you have won your brother. If you are not listened to, take with you one or two others so that the case may be decided by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he still refuses to listen to them, tell it to the assembled church. But if he (still) does not listen to the Church, then regard such a one as a pagan or a publican.” (Matthew 18:15-17)
“If any of you should cause one of these little ones who believe in me to stumble and fall, it would be better for you to be thrown into the depths of the sea with a great millstone around your neck.
Woe to the world because of so many scandals. Scandals necessarily come but woe to the one who has brought it about.” (Matthew 18:6-7)