The call by the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) to fellow Catholics to be “peacemakers” and to sow love amid troubled times in the country may just be what the doctor ordered and we hope it results in a longer reprieve before yet another row with loyalists of the Duterte administration.
That President Rodrigo Duterte agreed to a moratorium on his statements against the Church and their God after a meeting with CBCP head and Davao Archbishop Romulo Valles may be a temporary breather but it is a palliative step nonetheless that would ease tensions between Church and State.
That still doesn’t account for the murders of priests that remain fully unresolved but it is a positive first step towards ending for now this rift between Catholics critical of the incumbent administration and Catholics who count themselves as such yet remain fiercely loyal to the President and downplayed his recent tirades against the Church and their God whom he called “stupid.”
If anything, the President didn’t have to resort to attacking God or badmouthing Catholicism in order to drive home his message that there are some in the clergy that have committed sexual abuse and other crimes against their fellow Filipinos.
Do we really need a lecture about it from the President who has bigger concerns in his plate i.e. the runaway inflation rate, the costs of TRAIN and traffic congestion that needs resolution?
Whether or not he did this to test the limits of loyalty of his followers who count themselves as Catholic is a matter of perspective. Filipinos can be quite flexible and can compartamentalize their faith separate from their wordly concerns.
What is clear is that there are Filipinos that consider themselves Catholics that will not countenance unjustified and unprovoked attacks to their faith, even from a popularly elected leader.
This even the President recognized as he sought to explain his rash, unprovoked and ultimately unnecessary tirades against the Church, some of whose leaders like Valles are supportive of his administration.
Who doesn’t want peace? But peace should not come at the cost of subjugating and imposing one’s will and beliefs to another. Duterte loyalists should recognize and accept this truth even as they seek to dominate national discourse and debate through bullying and insulting others’s beliefs and principles.
But the call to be peacemakers doesn’t equate to blind obedience and unquestioning loyalty from Filipino Catholics who should continually engage and point out abuses and excesses committed by this administration and demand accountability and action from its President and his officials.
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