The good Catholic

By: Raymund Fernandez January 31,2017 - 09:04 PM
FERNANDEZ

FERNANDEZ

Surely, we have come to a time when we have to define for ourselves — and once again — what it means to be a good Catholic. The president has called the Philippine Catholic bishops corrupt sons of bitches. And we must have to make sense of that. And it is not easy.

I did not vote for the current president. I voted against him. And I thank God for that. My job is at least easier than if I did. I cannot imagine how I might feel right now if I were a good Catholic and helped put the man into office. It is not because he has criticized the bishops. Bishops are people in power. People in power should always be criticized if only to put them morally on their toes, so to speak. And indeed, we have been told, “sons of bitches” does not really mean sons of bitches anymore. The term is allegedly used not in the biblical sense but rather in the sense of Dirty Harry. And quite a number have pointed to the cultural idiosyncrasies of the term. It is supposed to mean just bad; not evil bad, but just bad in a benign sort of way. Or bad in the cute sense of Hollywood. Just so our children can just throw the term around without supposedly bothering us all that much. And so, okay. They are all or mostly sons of bitches. And corrupt: having no “moral ascendancy” whatsoever. They have wives — not one but two — and children. They keep it secret. They are no better than him. Which he takes to mean that, and therefore, they have no right to criticize him, least of all for 7,000 bloody EJK deaths.

And the bishops know how the running count of deaths — not at all mysterious unless one is stupid and more than 7,000 right now — must eventually have to be answered for in the run of history, if not in the Book of Life. And they must have to be answered for by every responsible citizen right now.

And all the more so, if that responsible citizen is in any position of authority. As in, for example, if the citizen is a Catholic bishop. For that is exactly what history does or is supposed to do when it is written correctly. It holds people accountable; not just bishops and presidents, but everyone. And it is not hard to imagine that one day, someday soon, we might have some grade-schooler child ask us: “Sir, while all those deaths were happening, what were you doing? Did you go to church and receive the grace of sacraments as in normal times? Did not the bishops say anything at all? What did you say for those who died?”

And so, one must understand why the Philippine bishops are a little listless nowadays as quite a number of us are. Those are not easy questions to answer. And one imagines that what a bishop must do now is to make his position over these things clear and unambiguous. Their words must be taken to be the position of the church. Because whether or not one is merely an okay Catholic or a bad or good one, whether singly or collectively, we are all called to bear witness to our faith. Christ speaks through us. All the more so if we are bishops and shepherds of the flock.

And who are the flock? Well, of course, the flock is us. But not just us. Ironically, the flock includes everyone, especially those stray, whether or not they are okay Catholics, good Catholics or bad ones. They include drug users and drug addicts. Especially those who are imprisoned, or get killed, or are getting killed, with neither the grace of Catholic Sacraments, or even the grace of their day in court. What should a corrupt son of a bitch Philippine Catholic bishop do in the light of all these?

A president can always resign or be removed from office. A citizen can always move to another country. He can always change religions like that boxer guy. But a bishop? A bishop is a priest. And a priest is, as it is written, “a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek.” His position is a sacramental appointment from God, from which position he can neither resign nor be removed from, nor feign a lack of responsibility for.

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TAGS: Catholic, deaths, drugs, drugs war, drugsw, Duterte, EJK, extrajudicial killings, history, President, President Rodrigo Duterte, war
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