Ricky Carandang reproduces a letter by the Bishop Emeritus (meaning, retired) of San Carlos, Negros Occidental, Nicholas Mondejar. It is both a startling and unsurprising document.
Personally, what I found intriguing was Mondejar’s extensive quotation from the late Redemptorist priest, Bernard Haring:
Once a usurper has actually obtained firm control of power in the state, the legitimate authority previously in control is not allowed to resort to violent measure to regain power unless there is a well-founded hope of success and true furtherance of the common good. The mere personal or ancestral claims to authority must ultimately cede to considerations of the welfare of the people as a whole. The common good-in its broadest aspects-is also the decisive factor, the standard by which the people themselves should judge whether to accept the regime of the usurper or not. (Pg.150, the Law of Christ, Bernard Haring, CSSR)
This lecture helps put Haring, his views, and life, in context. Apparently the book quoted above represents a specific (though influential) point in Haring’s evolution, intellectually. And while he has his supporters, apparently from a mainstream Catholic point of view, Haring is doctrinally suspect today.
I wish my father were still alive, because philosophy, including moral philosophy, was his area of competence. But from what I understand of Haring and his writings (as summarized above, anyway), they were provoked by his being appalled over how an instinct for obedience cowed Catholics during the Nazi era in his home country, Germany. What concerned Haring, and put him at odds with the hierarchy, was his quest to find ways to reconcile the Church’s authority and one’s conscience.
For example, the extract above is a reflection on a dilemma faced by occupied peoples everywhere, and the citizens of a state run by a dictatorship: would disobedience, or rebellion, if engaged in only by a tiny minority, accomplish anything more than the quicker extermination of opposition, and even greater repression?
The resistance to the Japanese was subject to the same debate: attack the Imperial Japanese forces all the time, everywhere, regardless of reprisals, or hold back, gathering only intelligence in preparation for the final offensive against the enemy? In France, the same debate took place. In the German context, a similar debate took place over whether to resist Hitler and mount a coup to topple him.
Note also, from the above, that one of the solutions, it seems, Haring looked at was to ensure that resistance even to tyranny should remain non-violent.
And I tend not to have much patience for people who quote St. Paul to justify total obedience to governments. After all, St. Paul was executed for defying the state, though he was given the privilege, as a Roman citizen, of being beheaded and not crucified. Which I think is the larger lesson when it comes to the state power, any state power, and people of faith: the state will have the nasty habit of insisting you die for your religion.
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