Did CBCP fail to connect with the poor?

By: Atty. Ruphil F. Bañoc February 09,2017 - 09:19 PM



The recent pastoral letter of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) concerning the campaign against prohibited drugs was reportedly read during the Masses of Catholic churches nationwide last Sunday.

Admittedly, however, I only knew of the pastoral letter through the news which prompted me to ask our CCTN news director, Dennis Tabar, whether he heard it being read in the Holy Mass last Sunday, and he answered yes.

Personally, I did not hear a similar reading in the Holy Mass that I attended. But I am not alone in this experience. Out of curiosity, I asked my colleagues, CCTN co-anchor, Atty. Divine Marcial-Flores, IFM Station Manager, Raul Credo and many others who also went to separate churches, if they heard the pastoral letter being read. They answered no.

So how many priests did not read the pastoral letter last Sunday? Did some of them just forget that there is such a pastoral letter that is supposed to be read during the Mass? Did they belittle or not give value to it? Or did they simply not agree with the bishops, specifically Bishop Soc Villegas, CBCP president, who is reportedly close to the Aquinos?

While the stand of CBCP merits respect, I think every person with a correct frame of mind agrees that the enormous drug problem in this country needs to be solved. What remains debatable is the way the said problem should be solved.

Part of the CBCP pastoral letter said: “We, your bishops, are deeply concerned due to many deaths and killings in the campaign against prohibited drugs. This traffic in illegal drugs needs to be stopped and overcome. But the solution does not lie in the killing of suspected drug users and pushers.

We are concerned not only for those who have been killed. The situation of the families of those killed is also cause of concern…”

So how should it be solved? The CBCP further states, “Every person has the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty. Society has ways and process to catch, prove guilty and punish perpetrators of crime. This process must be followed, especially by agents of the law.”

I agree with the CBCP that killing is against our laws and the commandment of God. But it is not absolute, depending on the circumstances like self-defense and during legitimate police operations when criminals or drug suspects put the lives of the police in real danger. In fact, little guy David killed giant Goliath who caused fear to the people of Israel (1 Samuel 17: 1–50).

Moreover, is it not a fact that the way of solving the problem as suggested by the bishops had been utilized long before Duterte was elected as President? Did it solve the problem? Or did it not worsen the situation? Drug users, pushers, drug lords are hard to be put in prison following the process mentioned by the bishops because of staggering picture corruption. And granting they are convicted, they still continue their business from inside jail. People are already frustrated as to how the problem is being dealt with. The people have been longing for a leader who could fight the worsening drug problem.

From the very start, Duterte has been very vocal about his way of solving the drug problem. The people want his way hence they voted him with a margin far higher than previous presidents. In fact, while the war on drugs is ongoing, the president has garnered the highest trust rating among government officials as reflected in the latest surveys.

When CBCP said, “An additional cause of concern is the reign of terror in many places of the poor,” we can see that the bishops, except the sincere ones, are out of touch with reality. The poor, good and law-abiding people are not afraid of Duterte’s way of solving the drug problem which decreases the crime index. They are afraid of the drug addicts and drug syndicates who are like giant Goliath bullies — reigning in many places of the poor!

The only specific challenge of Du30 in his war on drugs is to double time in cleansing the PNP from the scalawags who tarnish the reputation of his campaign. But generally, such war has the poor peoples’ support as per survey results.

The bishops who are residing in isolated palaces with wide and well-manicured verdant lawns, concrete long walls, beautifully gated compound and with luxury service cars should sometimes join the poor who are residing right at the back of their concrete fences to feel the reality. Remember that no less than Pope Francis said, “Be shepherds with the smell of the sheep.”

It is a fact that many priests last Sunday did not read the pastoral letter of CBCP. Is it not because they know and can connect with the poor people better than some bishops?

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TAGS: Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, CBCP, CCTN, Duterte, God

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