While Ricky Carandang thinks Cha-Cha is dead, because the President’s ultimate objective is to wangle some kind of assurance that she can retire comfortably and safely in 2010, statements to the effect that the Pope has blessed constitutional amendments, and that the President has now replaced the Apostolic Nuncio as conduit of papal instructions to the Philippine hierarchy, makes me wonder if Carandang should be so confident.
The President claims the Papal Encyclical, Deus Caritas Est, is an injunction against “meddling in politics.” Was she, or those interpreting her interpretation of the Pope, right?
Read the text of Deus Caritas Est, which seems to me an injunction for lay Catholics not to keep relying on their bishops to do their fighting for them. The Pope does spell out, in the following passages, his views on the role of the Catholic Church in politics. It is clear, and makes some cardinal distinctions while insisting, properly, that laymen should take the lead in applying Christian values to political life:
a) The just ordering of society and the State is a central responsibility of politics. As Augustine once said, a State which is not governed according to justice would be just a bunch of thieves:… Fundamental to Christianity is the distinction between what belongs to Caesar and what belongs to God (cf. Mt 22:21), in other words, the distinction between Church and State, or, as the Second Vatican Council puts it, the autonomy of the temporal sphere. The State may not impose religion, yet it must guarantee religious freedom and harmony between the followers of different religions. For her part, the Church, as the social expression of Christian faith, has a proper independence and is structured on the basis of her faith as a community which the State must recognize. The two spheres are distinct, yet always interrelated.
Justice is both the aim and the intrinsic criterion of all politics. Politics is more than a mere mechanism for defining the rules of public life: its origin and its goal are found in justice, which by its very nature has to do with ethics. The State must inevitably face the question of how justice can be achieved here and now. But this presupposes an even more radical question: what is justice? The problem is one of practical reason; but if reason is to be exercised properly, it must undergo constant purification, since it can never be completely free of the danger of a certain ethical blindness caused by the dazzling effect of power and special interests.
Here politics and faith meet. Faith by its specific nature is an encounter with the living GodÃ¢â‚¬â€an encounter opening up new horizons extending beyond the sphere of reason. But it is also a purifying force for reason itself. …
The Church’s social teaching argues on the basis of reason and natural law, namely, on the basis of what is in accord with the nature of every human being. It recognizes that it is not the Church’s responsibility to make this teaching prevail in political life. Rather, the Church wishes to help form consciences in political life and to stimulate greater insight into the authentic requirements of justice as well as greater readiness to act accordingly, even when this might involve conflict with situations of personal interest. Building a just social and civil order, wherein each person receives what is his or her due, is an essential task which every generation must take up anew. As a political task, this cannot be the Church’s immediate responsibility. Yet, since it is also a most important human responsibility, the Church is duty-bound to offer, through the purification of reason and through ethical formation, her own specific contribution towards understanding the requirements of justice and achieving them politically.
The Church cannot and must not take upon herself the political battle to bring about the most just society possible. She cannot and must not replace the State. Yet at the same time she cannot and must not remain on the sidelines in the fight for justice. She has to play her part through rational argument and she has to reawaken the spiritual energy without which justice, which always demands sacrifice, cannot prevail and prosper. A just society must be the achievement of politics, not of the Church. Yet the promotion of justice through efforts to bring about openness of mind and will to the demands of the common good is something which concerns the Church deeply…
29. We can now determine more precisely, in the life of the Church, the relationship between commitment to the just ordering of the State and society on the one hand, and organized charitable activity on the other. We have seen that the formation of just structures is not directly the duty of the Church, but belongs to the world of politics, the sphere of the autonomous use of reason. The Church has an indirect duty here, in that she is called to contribute to the purification of reason and to the reawakening of those moral forces without which just structures are neither established nor prove effective in the long run.
The direct duty to work for a just ordering of society, on the other hand, is proper to the lay faithful. As citizens of the State, they are called to take part in public life in a personal capacity. So they cannot relinquish their participation Ã¢â‚¬Å“in the many different economic, social, legislative, administrative and cultural areas, which are intended to promote organically and institutionally the common good.Ã¢â‚¬Â  The mission of the lay faithful is therefore to configure social life correctly, respecting its legitimate autonomy and cooperating with other citizens according to their respective competences and fulfilling their own responsibility. Even if the specific expressions of ecclesial charity can never be confused with the activity of the State, it still remains true that charity must animate the entire lives of the lay faithful and therefore also their political activity, lived as Ã¢â‚¬Å“social charityÃ¢â‚¬Â…
The President’s statements, as amplified by the Palace, seriously distorts the substance and even particulars of the papal letter. As this explanation of the encyclical is in Wikipedia puts it, “Summary on justice and charity, and the Church’s role. The Church cannot and must not take upon herself the political battle to bring about the most just society possible. She cannot and must not replace the State. Yet at the same time she cannot and must not remain on the sidelines in the fight for justice. She has to play her part through rational argument and she has to reawaken the spiritual energy without which justice, which always demands sacrifice, cannot prevail and prosper. A just society must be the achievement of politics, not of the Church. Yet the promotion of justice through efforts to bring about openness of mind and will to the demands of the common good is something which concerns the Church deeply… The Church’s charitable organizations, on the other hand, constitute an opus proprium, a task agreeable to her, in which she does not cooperate collaterally, but acts as a subject with direct responsibility, doing what corresponds to her nature. (Ã‚Â§28-29, italics added).” Therefore, the recent CBCP statement on Charter Change, which indeed quotes this encyclical, demonstrated complete fealty to papal policy.
Defensor: President was bamboozled into apologizing.
In case you were wondering, an announcement: rebellious officers might be punished. Maybe. Perhaps.
In case you wondered if he was still alive, former President Ramos says he has an opinion on insurgency.
My Arab News column for this week is, One Voice Wants to Expand Democracy, Not Restrict It (this might answer some questions raised by Julio Rey B. Hidalgo). Incidentally, One Voice is prepared to challenge the so-called “people’s initiative” before the Comelec and the courts.
The Inquirer editorial points out impeachment should be easier to achieve by one vote. Amando Doronila reiterates his belief the original impeachment should have reached the senate, and says the present impeachment is doomed. Conrado de Quiros on assuming leaders recognize the same limits as their peers.
A fascinating column by Bong Austero on matching what schools teach and what job markets want.
Greg Macabenta says Filipinos overseas have political clout -if only they exercised it.
Cocktales reveals that if the Manila Daily Bulletin’s published earnings are any guide, Philippine broadsheets are decreasing in profits.
Iloilo City Boy takes a look at the Arroyos. I think in this case, his view of how thinks work does not reflect how people really decide how to fight issues.