Interdicts, faith, Cardinals, and morals

The Catholic Church has its system of laws, under an Apostolic Constitution known as the Code of Canon Law, and while my preference is for a society that is secular,I am not opposed, in principle, to religion, just as I am not opposed to the expression of Catholic principles in politics. Most of all, in the political sphere I do believe that Catholic principles should be understood, even by non-Catholics, so that as Catholics and non-Catholics alike work out a healthy relationship between individual faith and political action, non-Catholics or the secularly-inclined can understand where Catholics are coming from.

Catholicism is a hierarchical religion, and administratively, organized under imperial Roman lines, one of the Pope’s titles being that of Supreme Pontiff (Pontifex Maximus), one of the titles of the emperors of Rome; archbishops and bishops rule of over dioceses, a term borrowed from the administrative setup of the Roman empire. Spiritually, it is organized on both a hierarchical and collegial lines, as bishops are successors of the Apostles, of whom the first among equals was Peter:

And I say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock will my church be based, and the doors of hell will not overcome it.

As a religion that happens to have a government, the governing power of Catholicism is exercised by the Pope in a political sense (as sovereign of the Vatican City state), and in a spiritual sense, by the Pope together with the bishops. In matters of faith and morals, the Pope is infallible when proclaiming dogma: for example, Pius XII’s proclamation of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin as dogma; infallibility is also granted the hierarchy of the Church when they gather in Ecumenical Council for the same purpose, for example, most recently, Vatican II. Within their dioceses, bishops, too, have the supreme authority when it comes to matters of faith and morals. Much of Canon Law is devoted to maintaining the authority and privileges of hierarchy, and in enumerating both the powers and responsibilities of the governing authorities of Catholicism as well as accompanying grievance mechanisms (appeals, tribunals, punishments and so forth).

The question of Cardinal Vidal’s instructions to the clergy of his diocese, should then be viewed in the context of the Cardinal’s powers as Archbishop of Cebu, the justifications for wielding those powers, and whether they were an abuse or within his authority to order; and its implications for Catholics.

Because of the cultivation of the episcopacy by the administration (an unprecedented religious affairs office, with presidential assistants ministering to the needs of the hierarchy), a partisan and not just political dimension has emerged in the goings-on among the hierarchy. See God and Gloria in the Asia Times:

That’s in part because Arroyo has deftly played the religion card. The Philippines is a predominantly Catholic country and senior bishops have in the past flexed their moral authority to affect political outcomes, including elections and crucial laws and legislation.
But a series of controversial incidents, many involving financial links to Arroyo’s administration, has called the clergy’s own legitimacy into question. Nueva Vizcaya Bishop Ramon Villena recently admitted in a newspaper report that the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO), the lottery run by the Office of the President, had given him 1.6 million pesos (US$39,000) to build a hospital for the poor in his home province. However, the total assistance given to Villena’s province, according to the report, was 3.2 million pesos.
The report also showed that the Catholic Church-run Radio Veritas received more than 2 million pesos in ad placements from the PCSO, which while not necessarily a new development, represented a huge increase in the amount of government funds doled out for similar initiatives in the past.
“That gifts or money would blind the eyes of bishops and seal their lips to gross corruption when solidly proven would be a tragic contradiction to their experience as pastors at Edsa I and Edsa II,” said Cotabato Archbishop Orlando Quevedo, a former CBCP president, referring to the clergy’s participation in past people’s power movements which overthrew corrupt governments.
The CBCP’s current president, Lagdameo, while quiet on previous scandals involving Arroyo and despite the issuance of carefully worded joint CBCP statements, has personally attacked the embattled premier since the ZTE scandal broke out. Two of his statements called on the people to engage in “communal action” and get involved in a “brand new people power”, which was interpreted by many as calling for a new people’s power movement. Lagdameo’s statements were strongly criticized by pro-Arroyo bishops.
Before Lagdameo took the CBCP’s helm, its previous leader, Fernando Capalla, was a personal friend to Arroyo. Church insiders say that Capalla, who also sat as one of the government’s peace negotiators in talks with Muslim secessionists, was frequently escorted by presidential guards from the airport whenever he flew into Manila.
It was thus notable, some say, that during Capalla’s tenure when explosive vote-rigging charges against Arroyo broke that the bishops did not support calls for her resignation or impeachment. When a government agent who claimed responsibility for wiretapping a conversation between Arroyo and a senior election official in 2004 in which the two appear to have predetermined vote counts for various constituencies across the country took refuge at a Manila seminary, Cardinal Gaudencio Rosales ordered that he be turned over to the military.
Rosales, who is a relative to one of Arroyo’s closest aides, has admitted in press interviews that he has received a 1 million peso donation from the Presidential Palace for his various livelihood projects targeting Manila’s poor populations. As successor to the incorruptible Cardinal Sin, many Filipinos have looked on Rosales to be a strong voice against government abuse.
Cebu Archbishop Ricardo Cardinal Vidal, who was the CBCP’s president when the clergy called for a civil disobedience campaign after Marcos rigged the results of 1986 snap elections against Corazon Aquino, has likewise shot down calls for the clergy to endorse Arroyo’s resignation. Despite his key role in orchestrating Marcos’ ouster, the senior clergyman has said a declaration against Arroyo is beyond the clergy’s authority and should be left to the political opposition.

The Cardinal Archbishop of Cebu’s moderate statements have put him in the line of fire. Cardinal Vidal faced questioning (see Vidal-GMA ‘secret meet’: Public asked not to make conclusion and Cardinal explains ‘secret meeting’) on whether he met the President at Wack-Wack and His Eminence told the press,

But in an interview with reporters yesterday, Cardinal Vidal narrated that he went to Tagaytay from a meeting in Rome. He then came home to Cebu but had to go again to Manila the following day to officiate at the marriage of “a big benefactor” of the Alliance of Two Hearts Parish.

“It just so happened that I was there. The house (I stayed in) is overlooking Wack-Wack. There’s a balcony there. While waiting for a (fellow archbishop) to join me for a mass, I was there (on the balcony). From afar, I could be seen easily but I did not notice them (the First Couple). Beyond the fence, there is a road and it seems that she (Arroyo) saw me but I didn’t see her,” said Vidal.

He added that President Arroyo, who was golfing with her husband, called the house and told him that she would be passing by to say hello.

“Imagine, the President of the Philippines visiting me. But I didn’t give her any spiritual advice. It was not the proper time to do so. She (President Arroyo) did not stay long. It was not a business meeting. Otherwise, I would not say anything about it,” the archbishop explained.

However, he did manage to grab the opportunity to tell the President about the plight of public school teachers, for fear that he might forget to do so in the future.

“I told her that I remembered she once asked me for some programs for the poor. (I told her) to please help our teachers and their transactions with the Government Service Insurance System. Do something about it so that our teachers will not be forced to moonlight. She promised she will check on it. According to her, there are half a million teachers from all over the country. Help them because they are among the poor employees of the government,” Cardinal Vidal said.

He added that cardinals also passed by Malacañang and when asked what they talked about, “We just said hi, hello and goodbye.”

The “hi, hello and goodbye” in what some prelates how come to call “The Diocese of Malacañang,” didn’t amuse bloggers like The Mount Balatucan Monitor:

First, Cardinal Vidal prohibit the priest in his diocese to join in a signature campaign by the Dilaab Foundation in search for truth. Second, after a concelebrated mass, Cardinal Vidal said Lozada is no hero. “Why do we have to make him a hero?” he said in an interview with reporters. Third, the priest who is supposed to celebrate a mass for truth for Jun Lozada in Cebu today backed out. According to Sr. Estrella Castalone, executive secretary of the Association of Major Religious Superiors (AMRSP), “the priest has received orders not to celebrate the Mass, so we had to resort to an interfaith prayer.” Now who ordered the priest to back out? Who is the highest Catholic Church official in the Archdiocese of Cebu where the buck would stop?

In contrast, Cardinal Vidal allowed Presidential Management Staff Chief Cerge Remonde to attend the recollection of the priest in his diocese. He even allowed Cerge to discuss the NBN/ZTE controversy during the recollection and distribute a primer on the issue. Recently, Cardinal Vidal was reported to have met with the First Couple in Wack Wack early this month…

Which brings us to the point of whether the Cardinal Archbishop of Cebu, from a Catholic point of view, was using his powers in a proper way, for the good of his flock.

Ostensibly, the concern of bishops is that the Mass is being used for partisan political purposes. A Philippine Star report puts it this way:

Speaking over Catholic Church-run Radyo Veritas, Archbishop of Nueva Caceres Leonardo Legaspi said he had prohibited priests in his archdiocese from allowing churches to be used as venue for political discussions.

“I don’t have a problem if they want to stage a rally since it’s the right of every Catholic to express his or her chosen political decision,” he said.

“What I don’t want is for Masses to be used for that. I also don’t allow that here.”

Legaspi said he had issued the order to priests in the Archdiocese of Nueva Caceres so they would not allow themselves to be used in political rallies.

“For me, they should not use Masses to attract crowds for their cause,” he said.

“Masses are not meant for that. You are degrading the solemnity of Masses. It’s really painful to see the Mass, priests and nuns, and even bishops being used for that.”

Legaspi said Church law prohibits the use of the Mass to attract crowds in advancing political interests.

“The level of politics is way below the reason for holding Mass,” he said. “If you allow Mass to be used in politicking, you degrade its value and solemnity.”

Legaspi said he has the prerogative to impose disciplinary action on priests and nuns who would violate his order.

“That is the prerogative of the bishop since he is the pastor of the faithful in his diocese,” he said.

As Archbishop Leonardo Legaspi goes, so goes Cardinal Archbishop Vidal: they are concerned over the “politicizing” of the Mass, and don’t shrink from exercising their pastoral authority (see Lozada runs into trouble with Catholic prelates). Except that while the worst that can be said of Legaspi is that his insistence on awaiting the truth will be an eternal one, Vidal’s non-partisanship is seriously in doubt. And there is the corresponding example of (not my favorite prelate, either)Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales, who lets priests say mass for the President, her family and the Lakas-Kampi coalition, and for anyone else on the other side of the political divide. The Catholic hierarchy prefers to be nebulous rather than risk being active political players (see Patricio P. Diaz’s summary of episcopal opinions). By so doing, as Amando Doronila points out, the hierarchy makes itself vulnerable to divide-and-conquer tactics:

The lack of solidarity in the hierarchy and an authoritative direction from the highest ecclesiastical leadership, represented by the Archbishop of Manila, Cardinal Rosales, on the question of whether to support street campaigns to remove the President has allowed the government to deepen the divisions in the hierarchy to play the opposing tendencies against one another and has caused administration critics to charge the hierarchy with being soft on the government, with its series of pastoral letters straddling the fence on what political action to take on the issues raised by the corruption scandals.

But with regards to the individual decisions of individual prelates, in denying permission for Masses for Lozada, have they then imposed spiritual sanctions on Lozada and his supporters?

Oddly enough, the Vatican (and thus, definitive) online version of the Code of Canon Law has no links to the section that I believe is relevant, but another site has it, so here it is: Code of Canon Law, Book VI Part II: Penalties for Particular Offenses.

Under its provisions, the Church first of all, states it has the right to punish members of the faith who commit violations of the principles of the Church. The list of offenses is meant to serve as a deterrent to breaches of faith,and corresponding penalties for offenses as well as their remedies, to bring back erring members of the flock back into the fold.

In general, a penalty is not binding until someone actually commits a crime under Canon Law; but it is binding the moment the crime is committed, regardless of whether anyone witnesses it or states that a violation has taken place. At the same time, the Code of Canon Law is replete with exhortations to those holding authority not to be too free and easy about handing down penalties, and lists many exceptions to the rules, or what we would call mitigating circumstances that ought to be taken into account in determining the committing of crimes and corresponding punishments.

The gravest punishment under Canon Law, is excommunication, followed by interdict. An excommunication forbids the sacraments to a Catholic; an interdict can apply both to an individual or a group of Catholics.

When Nun questions priests’ refusal to celebrate Mass for Lozada, a legitimate question was being asked of the authorities. Basically, even if Canon Law isn’t being brought up, the question is whether Lozada has been effectively excommunicated or an interdict imposed on his person or wherever he may be -or when he is within the limits of a particular diocese. And then the question arises whether such sanctions have been imposed in defense of the faith or as a last ditch effort to preserve the authority of prelates whose own clergy and flocks have turned against them or stopped looking to them for guidance in terms of faith and morals.

I can think of one blogger who could give a definitive answer to these questions –Scriptorium– but alas, he is on indefinite leave from blogging. But maybe he’ll take a look at this entry and sort out the real issues from a Catholic point of view.

Let me close by republishing a recent editorial from The Forward, the school newspaper of San Jose Recoletos Cebu (I have been very impressed by these kids, as I’ve mentioned before: see my column, The future’s bright):

Young Moves?

Editorial (Edited)
FORWARD 2nd Semester 2007-2008 (released March 13)

The young are not indifferent. This is the message we can draw from the rallies of some schools in Manila (University of the Philippines, Ateneo de Manila University, De La Salle University, etc.) in the fight against moral bankruptcy of the Philippine government. On this picture, one might ponder:are the actions of the young from Manila or Luzon enough manifestation that they are really hard at work for change?

This is no issue of regionalism but an assessment of whether or not the totality of the new breed of Filipinos has gone a notch more radical. In the EDSA 1, we witnessed (in our history books,etc.) the involvement of the young in Luzon, Visayas, or MIndanao. Notably, it was because of the shocks of the imposition of Martial Law that everyone felt curtailed and pushed to their limits.

Then, Erap’s administration came with excessive corruption and ‘ended’ with the controversial unopened during the impeachment proceeding. The young took in ferreting out the truth and had it exposed in the open.

Here in Cebu and some parts of the Visayas, there were rallies. Mindanao for sure had also echoed their cries. And as expected, EDSA 2 overtook in liberating the country again from the hands of a corrupt president. Among the frontliners in EDSA 2 were the young in Manila.

Now, it is Arroyo’s administration that is emperiled. This latest scandal hounding her administration fits well as a sequel to “Hello Garci”, “fertilizer scam”, “cash gifts” to politicians – episodes that have become box office operas on TV.

Now, public’s attention is focused on the ZTE scandal and the “heroic” end of ZTE NBN deal star witness Rodolfo Noel “Jun” Lozada.

Lozada is well supported by the civil society, religious sectors, youth groups, etc. He was a close friend of former National Economic Development Authority Director General Romulo Neri. Neri, on the other hand, first answered the queries of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee about the ZTE scandal but the public was dismayed when he invoked Executive Order 164 (requiring “all heads of departments of the Executive Branch of the government” to “secure the consent of the President prior to appearing before House of Congress”).

With the fearless Lozada and the reserved Neri, the country – including the young – calls for a probable people power to know the truth again.

FORWARD wants to passionately reply to the query of PDI columnist Mr. Manuel L. Quezon III through SMS, regarding what the public feels and how it reacts to Lozada’s revelation. But Cebuanos seem to take on the issue in a different way.

So, we say in this piece, that the Cebuanos, particularly the young, respond through freedom of expression make manifest in the campus press, debates, and classroom discussions. But the question is: does it effect change? On the other hand, we ask: does people power really provide us a better change?

Arroyo is a by-product of people power. If she would be ousted by the same force that made her president, the message is clear: people power wields power more than the due process does. Whether this idea is something good or bad, it’s the people who must be able to figure it out.

We say the young Cebuanos’ physical silence may mean two things:they are discerning on what proper actions to take or the choose not to take part at all.

Incidentally, concerning “those who choose not to take part at all”, Thirtysomething v4.3 has an interesting entry on Dante’s Inferno, and the place in Hell reserved for those who profess neutrality “at a time of great moral decision”:

In relation to the subject, I tried to verify it it was indeed Dante who once said that “The hottest places in Hell are reserved for those who in time of moral crisis preserve their neutrality.”

I found out that it was not a direct quote, but rather, the late U.S. President John F. Kennedy’s interpretation of one of the passages of the “Divine Comedy.”

In the Inferno, Dante and his guide Virgil, on their way to Hell, pass by a group of dead souls outside the entrance to Hell. These individuals, when alive, remained neutral at a time of great moral decision. Virgil explains to Dante that these souls cannot enter either Heaven or Hell because they did not choose one side or another.

They are therefore worse than the greatest sinners in Hell because they are repugnant to both God and Satan alike, and have been left to mourn their fate as insignificant beings neither hailed nor cursed in life or death, endlessly travailing below Heaven but outside of Hell.

This scene occurs in the third canto of the Inferno…

Contrasting views in the blogosphere: In support of Cardinal Vidal, from Lost in Oblivion and An Angel Lost in Hell. Critical commentary from Ipadayag! and After All and The Mount Balutacan Monitor. On the other hand, simply pays tribute to the alma mater.

Returning to Scriptorium, an excellent explanation of the difference between the corruption of the old days and the corruption of today (highlighted in similar terms in the Inquirer editorial Hacenderos). In 1953 when Magsaysay ran for president, his campaign song had the lyrics “no more graft or ten percent, if Magsaysay’s president!” while by 2006, the “acceptable limits” of graft, according to Romulo Neri, was twenty percent. As Scriptorium points out in Why I miss old-fashioned corruption (a Philippine satire), and which reminds readers its satirical but the best satire is built on truth (hence, a non-satirical piece but one full of truths, the supreme apologia of the pragmatic politician, George Washington Plunkitt’s explanation of the difference between Honest Graft and Dishonest Graft):

In the past month, the Philippines has been convulsed again by the scandal over the ZTE-NBN contract. The controversy has pitted the Arroyo Dictatorship against a motley alliance of the idealist intelligentsia and “reformed” sinners, with bishops uncertainly in the middle trying to counsel accountability to the former and moderation to the latter. It’s all somewhat surreal, but I think the controversy merely manifests the presence of a far more massive iceberg beneath.

That iceberg is sometimes called the collapse of public ethics in the Philippines. In some ways related to the concurrent decline of private ethics, it is characterized by the systemic removal of all the controls of decency and propriety that once held corruption in check. However, it’s not my intention here to delve into the higher ethics of the matter, but only into its lower ethical dimension of practicality; for the problem, pragmatically speaking, is the rampant inflation, even the hyperinflation, of the cost of government bribery. In short, to use Friedman’s dangerous generalizations, we are ceasing to be an “Asian-type” crony-state, and are becoming a predatory state on the “African” model.

We see this most starkly when we compare the present with the past, what we might call Contemporary and Historic Philippines.

Historic Philippines was characterized by customary controls on abuse and rapacity. No one begrudged an official the act of skimming a little money off the common weal, since a public servant deserved a little bonus for serving the common good. What’s more, his poorest constituents saw him not only as administrator but as surrogate father, the parens of their many little patriae, and they depended on him to feed their hungry and to pay for their funerals, celebrations, medical treatments, emergencies, housing and whatnot. Woe to the official who did not honor his duties as patron; and since this was a staggering personal obligation for his pocket, it was understood that he would necessarily borrow from the public treasury to thus serve the public need.

What we might now call graft and corruption was, therefore, in those days not merely inevitable, but necessary. It was also honorable, for the dominance of quasi-ethical concepts like amor proprio (personal honor), patronazgo (responsibility to the needy), delicadeza (decorum), and palabra de honor (inviolability of promises) meant that bribery had to be hidden from view, moderate in amount, stable in value, and calculated to not radically prejudice public service. Also, the formal morality that was honored by law and canonized by religion militated against selfish profit, which thus had to be moderated lest it reach scandalous proportions. This was hypocrisy as a fine art; for if it trysted with the occasional corruption, hypocrisy at least honored morality as a revered spouse, and feared social ostracism for its abandonment.

In Contemporary Philippines, on the other hand, the customary controls are lost, and the moderating influence of hypocrisy and hellfire is but a dim memory. When a certain First Lady allegedly demanded 10% for public contracts it was an earthshaking affront to the customary laws; but with today’s breathtaking 100+% kickbacks, society scarcely yawns, and feels content to buy peace by letting the bribing go on till 2010. And this is not a mere phenomenon at the summit; it rears its evil head at every level of social government, even to the barangays that will not renew a permit without compounded gifts. And the opportunities are multiplying, with the grant of massive revenue-making powers to local executives, and nullity for psychological incapacity enacted as a bonanza for judges and prosecutors.

The decay is shocking. Whereas hypocrisy once honored delicadeza by keeping bribes low and quiet, today’s corruption is garapalan, reaching dizzying heights of rates and ostentation. The idealized model of a Magsaysay, who reimbursed the government for meals served to his friends, has been replaced by that of officials serving Petrus to allies and flying their extended families on junkets to Europe; and nobody cares who notices that expensive suites are hired in Las Vegas for Manny Pacquiao’s fights by moderately paid officials and/or their spouses. On lower levels, a judge and his sheriff won’t issue TROs for less than half-a-million; and a mayor in Southern Luzon demands 20% of the gross capitalization of a project before he approves it, the good of his constituents be damned.

Gone too is hypocrisy’s respect for palabra de honor. In the good old days, officials had the decency to stay bribed, and their promises once sold were durable, but today a judge or commissioner will abandon a side in a case at the mere hint of a better offer, and the PBACs of the several agencies are become unreliable. Hence, getting contracts and favorable rulings are increasingly a matter of continuous competitive bidding, forcing the client to pay more for bribe security, which even then is rarely absolute. A member of a powerful commission changes his already sold vote upon getting a brown valise; and a prosecutor who gets a bribe for himself and his boss pockets all the money with nary a care. Such is treachery, such is dishonor!

At least in non-adversarial proceedings like those before the revenue agencies, there remains some stability: the going rate for examiners, collectors, and revenue district officers is fixed by custom, and investors in big contracts can preemptively get favorable Rulings or Orders for a mere P100,000.00. Even there, however, costs are rising, especially in licensing: The average building permit today costs twice what it did merely 10 years ago, and franchises for transport are so expensive that it’s cheaper to just go colorum (illegal) and pay off the policeman. If you’re in Manila, however, pray that it’s a policeman who arrests you: cops are reasonable and will lower their demands if you show good cause, but MMDA enforcers show little mercy, and won’t even honor the time-honored custom of haggling.

Where has decency gone? Some mayors at least still provide exemplary social services, and their old-fashioned corruption is seen as a forgivable continuation of the old ways of patronage, but many executives now treat their constituents not as clients to be cared for but as cash cows to be brutally squeezed. Few still care for the obligations of patronazgo, or for the old partnership of public good and private gain; now the Philippines is becoming an materialist-individualist paradise where religious sanction and social shame mean almost nothing. Hypocrisy for the sake of amor proprio is overthrown; our republic is now the openly rapacious kingdom of sin verguenza.

All this has resulted in a hyperinflation in the corruption market, as demand for bribes outstrips diminishing supply, forcing officials to have recourse to foreign government suppliers. The macroeconomic effects would no doubt be shocking if they are quantified. Foreign direct investment is fleeing to countries with lower corruption rates, where bribes are low enough the escape the half-lidded eye of the FCPA, and the field is left to crony capitalists insulated by their influence from the inflation, and legitimate investors and wage-earners who must bear all of the burden. The cost of business is spiking, and it may soon become so high as to make profit, and therefore salaries to proletariat and salariat alike, impossible.

The bull of the bribe market must therefore be brought under control, for it has indulged its exuberance too irrationally and too long. It is the task of leaders to regulate corruption and temper selfishness, and they must do so by restoring the customary controls. Is it any surprise that the opposition is now led by advocates of the old order of decently decorous corruption, calling on leaders to moderate their greed? A few choice convictions of dispensable allies would be a good start, provided they are not later stoppered with cynical pardons, since they would at least discourage outright pillage, and show that the customary laws are still respected. That would suffice to tell officials: No more! Too much! (I won’t add “Get out!” lest I be accused of sedition.)

But we must act soon. Let the overheated bribe market continue and it will destroy the customary controls entirely: hyperinflation destroyed the general economy of Weimar, and look what that did to the rule of law? Public ethics must be restored to its ancient equilibrium between gain and service, decency and hypocrisy, for if not, then we will see in the Philippines the same events that followed the replacement of the ancien regime and its customary controls with the all-corrupt Directory, or of the Manchus with the Kuomintang: specifically, the rule of military tyrants (as prophesied by Edmund Burke in the case of France). The freedom to bribe must therefore become once again an ordered freedom, lest all freedom be completely lost.

The thing is, I have heard similar views expressed, in all seriousness, by expats who find no difference between the cupidity of Filipino and say, Malaysian or Indonesian, Vietnamese or African officials except the lack of tidiness and predictability when it comes to the Filipino officials (except in Cebu, where the bribery is methodical: everything gets done, but your choice is whether to pay a premium to expedite the processing of licenses, etc., a system such expats hold superior to the rapaciousness and inefficiency they encounter down the line everywhere else, it seems).

Then, the Inquirer editorial today. Trivial pursuits, focuses on the Commission on Appointments and the controversies concerning its rules. As in all things, ever wondered why the phrase, “moderate the greed,” has resonated so much with people from all walks of life?

It’s the cornerstone of our traditional culture: the idea that human vices must, at least, be moderated.


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    • anthony scalia on March 19, 2008 at 11:33 am

    The CBCP may be an organization of the heads of archdioceses nationwide, but strictly speaking, the CBCP is not the Catholic Church.

    The whole Philippines is not one diocese. There is no archbishop for the whole country

    • cvj on March 19, 2008 at 12:01 pm

    In short, to use Friedman’s dangerous generalizations, we are ceasing to be an “Asian-type” crony-state, and are becoming a predatory state on the “African” model. – George Washington Plunkitt

    I have a hunch that in terms of foreign policy treatment, China lumps us together with the African countries. BTW, as i pointed out in my blog, in terms of development models, as per Dani Rodrik, we also resemble Africa more than Asia:

    Maybe lack of local productive capacity and increasing remittances are part of what is destroying the previous orderly scheme of corruption.

    Public ethics must be restored to its ancient equilibrium between gain and service, decency and hypocrisy, for if not, then we will see in the Philippines the same events that followed the replacement of the ancien regime and its customary controls with the all-corrupt Directory, or of the Manchus with the Kuomintang: specifically, the rule of military tyrants (as prophesied by Edmund Burke in the case of France). The freedom to bribe must therefore become once again an ordered freedom, lest all freedom be completely lost.- George Washington Plunkitt

    The question is whether moderate greed aka Plunkitt’s ordered freedom to bribe as a feature of the system was a stable configuration to begin with.

    In any case, Plunkitt’s warning on the breakdown of equilibrium and the role ethics plays (in defending against an outside morality) is echoed by Niklas Luhman:

    The effects Luhmann fears can be elucidated historically by listing the countless crusades, wars, inquisitions, and persecutions that moral discourse has fueled. By acting as mediator between morality and society, ethics is charged with minimizing the devastation morality is capable of unleashing…morality, with its code of approval/disapproval, attempts to limit the choice it cannot help but automatically engender. It attempts to impose its means of reducing complexity on the systems it inhabits, i.e., it attempts to replace a ‘legitimate’, system-specific means of generating and processing information with an ‘illegitimate’, totalizing and parasitic one…Ethics, therefore, described from this systemic perspective, is seen as a kind of immune system or on/off switch, and we are advised that “perhaps the most pressing task of ethics is to warn against morality” – William Rasch, Immanent Systems in Observing Complexity

    The second to the last paragraph of the ‘Young Moves’ editorial you quoted above also warns against this alien morality in the form of People Power.

  1. MLQ3,
    You are struggling with and dancing around a FACT that perhaps we all refuse to recognize: that the Catholic Church is in fact the fount of clerico fascism, the very inspiration of Benito Mussolini’s right wing movement in Italy. As you know my own opinion of the church in politics is that it is just another NGO, and so entitled to all the rights and freedoms the Constitution guarantees.

    However, as an institution you need to take off the kid gloves with the Men in Skirts Manolo, because they are more totalitarian internally than the CPP, more dogmatic and backward, more prone to the wiles of power, which once they owned and can never forget.

    Neither should we!

  2. BTW, however you feel now about this Ricardo Cardinal Vidal, I don’t mind telling you I felt exactly the same way (if not more murderously) the year you were born, towards a certain Jaime Cardinal Sin, who, for twenty years less one week in 1986, was Marcos’ co-conspirator, the main ribbon cutter for Imelda’s Edifice Complex, the Champion of People Power! Yecch.

  3. deej, it wasn’t fvr who saved arroyo back in 2005, but the cbcp.

    • salud on March 19, 2008 at 12:55 pm

    When these bishops die, they will be judged by God. We can only pray for their enlightenment. Remember for whatever sin you do, there must be restitution. Just like whatever you steal, you must pay back with interest.

    • benign0 on March 19, 2008 at 1:05 pm

    Again what makes this thing UNNECESSARILY complicated is the lack of understanding of the fundamental difference between being spiritual and being religious.

    Pinoys, in our infinite capacity for vacuousness, cannot seem to fathom the spirit behind being an ethical individual and instead delegate our thinking and sense of morality to the dogmatic quaintness of organised religion.

    Thus instead of understanding simple ethical principles that would otherwise easily resolve these convoluted conflicts, we instead try to resolve these dilemmas by READING INTO the moronic behaviours of people and events surrounding these cretins.

    Except that while the worst that can be said of Legaspi is that his insistence on awaiting the truth will be an eternal one, Vidal’s non-partisanship is seriously in doubt. And there is the corresponding example of (not my favorite prelate, either)Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales, who lets priests say mass for the President, her family and the Lakas-Kampi coalition, and for anyone else on the other side of the political divide.

    I mean, what’s the point in evaluating — no, speculating — on what motivates Bishop What’s-his-face’s or Cardinal Whatever’s actions or pronouncements?

    So what if Cardinal Heng Hong is in bed with President Whoever and therefore “allows” masses to be held for Whoever’s minions’ roadshows?

    So what?

    The principles at stake here are VERY SIMPLE.

    (1) In the eyes of the State, the Cahtolic Church is a citizen just like any other Pinoy individual or corporate entity (albeit a non-taxpayer, I might highlight).

    (2) Just like all citizens, it is subject to conventional channels when exercising its right to PARTICIPATE in the affairs of the State.

    (3) When it chooses to exercise its influence over Government officials BEYOND these conventional channels (brokering favours and deals on an individual basis with said officials), it itself becomes a political player (in contrast with being a mere political participant via conventional democratic channels).

    BUT, its avowed core business is to provide SPIRITUAL SERVICES to its customers.

    THEREFORE, that it would use one of its business operations — The “Holy” Sacrifice of the Mass — as a channel for influencing the political sentiments of its customers (“pastoral letters” read out during what’s supposed to be the “homily” section of this ceremony) constitutes a breach of the scope of its core service.

    It’s like ABS-CBN — a supposedly avowed champion of “balanced” news reporting services — being found to be using its news program Bandila to deliver subtle or subliminal political messages to its viewers.

    It’s simple, really. 😀

  4. I think our “religious” attitude as far as evil deeds are concerned revolves on our notion of eternal salvation as we understand or interpret Christian teachings. I could be wrong because I am not a Catholic, but I base this opinion on my observation of many religious people I know some of them close to me: salvation is attained by believing in Christ as the Savior not by doing good. Make hay then while there is time. You can always make amends afterward pag puno na ‘yung bank account. Jesus is always forgiving, you know…

    Hindi ko naman nilalahat, in fact I feel bad thinking that way. I just have to say that I think many have that kind of attitude.

    • cvj on March 19, 2008 at 1:28 pm

    Ricelander, salvation via believing in Christ as a savior and not by doing good is not a Catholic, but rather a Protestant or Evangelical belief.

    • BrianB on March 19, 2008 at 1:36 pm

    Catholic salvation is based on the sacraments.

    • BrianB on March 19, 2008 at 2:27 pm

    This was from the last post:


    before making a comment, make sure you know what you’re talking about. the rules and procedures on truth-seeking in a civilized society are accepted, not for “peace of mind”, but because they are the only ones which can ensure “human truth”, as distinguished from “divine truth”, the latter being beyond the realm of human understanding

    An inferior mind always thinks most people are too stupid to understand him. Procedures, Bencard, rely on people doing these procedures. Relying on procedures in this country is like asking the police, the lawyers like you and the judges to be completely ethical in their work.

    The best example of this is the “Hello Garci” tapes. Truth: Gloria cheated. procedure: tape is inadmissible. Understand what I mean?

    • frombelow on March 19, 2008 at 2:29 pm

    The fallacy that confront those who want to Oust GMA is that they always consider the Catholic bishops as vital component in whatever political movement in this country.
    could it be that the overrated importance of the Bihops was only the result of the effort of some civil society groups, politicians, and business elites to deodorize their EDSA 1 and 2 to make their obvious power grabs more morally acceptable.
    Strategically speaking they are correct. The trouble starts when they (civil society groups ) begin to believe their own propaganda.

    • BrianB on March 19, 2008 at 2:42 pm


    What I really mean about irredeemable is that sticking to procedures despite obvious truths is a little conniving. To me.

    • cvj on March 19, 2008 at 2:55 pm

    Brianb, what i understand from Bencard is that in these matters, there are (or there should be) no ‘obvious truths’ that are unfiltered by the legal process. I disagree with him on this and believe that truth can be obtained from varied sources as long as it passes the process of authentication. Society is now more complex as compared to the days of St. Thomas More who was willing to give the Devil the benefit of the law.

    • Jeg on March 19, 2008 at 2:57 pm

    MLQ3: …while my preference is for a society that is secular,I am not opposed, in principle, to religion, just as I am not opposed to the expression of Catholic principles in politics.

    This expression of Catholic principles in politics is the reason People Power worked in the Philippines in 1986, and in Poland in 1989. The people massed against the government and those armed soldiers arrayed against them were steeped in Catholic morality. The soldiers will not shoot at unarmed civilians. Contrast that with Burma or China. I am all for the secular state such as what we have been striving for, but we must not forget that this country traditionally recognizes a higher power. In the preamble to our constitution it states:

    We, the sovereign Filipino people, imploring the aid of Almighty God…

    The biggest atrocities in history have been perpetrated by people and societies who have traditionally believed in a higher power but rejected it in favor of the ultimate authority of the State.

    • Mita on March 19, 2008 at 3:13 pm

    benigno, confused talaga. in the 1987 constitution, it’s a state policy to promote and protect the youth’s physical, moral, SPIRITUAL, intellectual and social well-being. can you tell who requested that one word be inserted into the constitution?

    no church should meddle in matters of state and vice versa. one glaring reason why – it’s another point of “gulo” between citizens…especially if we don’t like what they say or do.

    about neutrality. i wish there were more in the country who believe in and practise political neutrality. non-politicians, the “religious” and even those serving in government would do this country a lot of good if they could stay politically neutral.

    • BrianB on March 19, 2008 at 3:17 pm


    He believes “human truth” is encapsulated in the legal. Though it is always a good philosophical assumption that every thing human or with respects to bencard “truthfully human” can be integrated in the law, this is simply not the case in our current legal system.

    He prefers to think that legals procedures have been perfected and that a normal human being’s thinking is simply inferior to what has been established by the best legal minds (who really only plagiarize their american counterparts). He calls people like me who distrust lawyers and dislikes legal procedures Philistines. This is what makes Philippine lawyers different from their American or European counterparts, that they believe they are intellectually superior.

    What a laugh. Writers prefer to make the complicated simple. Lawyer like to do the opposite and make the simple complicated. Who is the Philistine? Let me put it another way: who of the two is lacking in sophistication?

    • Marcelo on March 19, 2008 at 3:27 pm

    Dear Friends:

    Some thoughts –

    (1) The earthly representatives of our Holy Mother Church are probably both (repeat both) divided and playing a game whose end moves they see far beyond our own horizon (2010 or the next massive street protest, take your pick). But then again, the Vatican has a millennium-and-a-half of statecraft under its belt, so this may just be par for the course.

    (2) Part of that statecraft has always been concerned with timing and taking sides. That’s why the earthly representatives of our Holy Mother Church are on both (all) sides of our current controversy. Realpolitik at its shining best! On more moral grounds, since neither (none) of the sides can claim to be the Sole Exemplar of the Whole Unvarnished Truth, our Holy Mother Church is simply following the odds, to make sure that the moral balance ends up right in the end…heh heh. (But maybe the Church will eventually place a hidden finger on the scales?)

    (3)On “moderate greed”: there’s a line by the head slave spoken to his Roman master in the Broadway musical comedy “Something Funny Happened on the Way to the Forum” that goes something like this: “I will, of course, steal from you, but only within reason. You will ,of course, beat me, but also only within reason.” I am not going to stand on some soapbox and pontificate on what constitutes “moderate greed,” but I will observe that some actions are system-breaking while others are not.

    (4) On the difference between Catholics and Protestants: which side says “By Grace Alone”?

    (5) On ABS-CBN delivering “subtle or subliminal political messages”…ha ha..HAH HAH HAH HAH!

    • Willy on March 19, 2008 at 3:33 pm

    The clergy guides its flock through faith and morals.
    It is the supposed demarcation line between religious morals and secular morals that brings a tension between Church and State. This brings with it an implied assumption that the relativist or pluralist notion of morality should be irrespective of the “religious” morality as seen by the Church. The Church meanwhile holds on to an objective morality consistent with its Magisterium regardless of relativist/populist views. By the principle of subsidiarity, the bishopric in their specific locales exercises a wide discretion over matters of discipline and pastoral care in their own dioceses, while avoiding the prescription of specific plans of action as it is best left to the lay people. Thus there is a wide diversion of views as to the role of the clergy, it is either too much or too little. It all depends on one’s views on the demarcation line, together with one’s view of morality.

    • BrianB on March 19, 2008 at 3:49 pm


    The bishops pounced on Erap even before he won the presidential election and he actually won it.

    • Mike on March 19, 2008 at 5:20 pm

    The question of sin is one that the Church has concerned itself with from the beginning–perhaps even before, as when the Old Testament prophets called on the people to repent to avoid God’s wrath. Kings were not exempt from this call, and many prophets were put to death when they challenged temporal powers.

    Of course, not all prophets were always faithful to God–Jonah and Jeremiah were reluctant prophets. So perhaps some of their spiritual descendants today (I’m not naming names…ROSALES!!!!!) have trouble calling David on Bathsheba. That’s a personal decision. Every baptized person has the mark of a prophet on his soul, so the rest of us should call it as best we hear God calling it.

    • benign0 on March 19, 2008 at 5:20 pm

    confused talaga. in the 1987 constitution, it’s a state policy to promote and protect the youth’s physical, moral, SPIRITUAL, intellectual and social well-being. can you tell who requested that one word be inserted into the constitution? – Mita

    Jeez, it’s a no-brainer.

    Actually if you think about it, that clause in the Constitution gives the State the right to have a say in any religious organisation’s approach to delivering spiritual services. Kung baga they can exert some form of governance over how religious organisations deliver their services.

    Interesting… 😉

    • Chabeli on March 19, 2008 at 5:53 pm

    Lino Lebron, a businessman, is the constant companion of Cardinal Vidal. The house Cardinal Vidal describes as “The house (I stayed in) is overlooking Wack-Wack”, is a house built for him courtesy of Lebron (for the Cardinal). I can’t remember now whether this house is next to Lebrons’, & I also don’t remember now whether the title of the Wack-Wack house is under the Cardinals’ name. It was also Lebron who arranged the meeting between Gloria & Cardinal Vidal.

    • nash on March 19, 2008 at 6:10 pm

    I agree.
    Let the Catholics be.
    Let everyone have freedom of religion.

    Unfortunately, there are some things our powerful majority Catholic church should not be doing.

    First, what does the Catholic Church NOT do?:

    1. The Catholic Church does not provide us pension
    2. The Catholic Church does not build roads and infrastructure
    3. The Catholic Church does not provide free universities or schools
    4. The Catholic Church does not provide cheap mass housing
    5. The Catholic Church does not provide does give us access to calamity loans to help us get back on our feet after a god-made disaster.

    The above (and more) are provided by our state (no matter how corrupt or inefficient) with money from Taxpayers.

    Taxpayers who come in all shapes, sizes, colours, and faiths.

    So the Catholic Church has NO BUSINESS pushing its fat weight around and interfering with government programs on population control and right to information.

    (And this should be the same in some parts of Mindanao where Islam is the dominant religion.)

    • Jeg on March 19, 2008 at 6:17 pm

    So the Catholic Church has NO BUSINESS pushing its fat weight around and interfering with government programs on population control and right to information.

    If by ‘no business’ here you mean ‘no right’, then I have to disagree. I agree with DJB. The Church is just an ubergigantic NGO and as such they do have a right to say what they think. The onus is solely on the state on whether it decides to act independently of this NGO and not pander to it. We keep blaming the Church for this and that when in fact it is the State that allows itself to be dominated. Probably because they find it useful to do so.

    • WillyJ on March 19, 2008 at 6:37 pm

    The Church has citizenship status, agree with DJB and Jeg.
    With respect to the Church’s active opposition to population control programs (translated: artificial birth control), it should be understandable because that is expected as a minimum, as it falls under non-negotiables.

    Pope Benedict XVI, in his address to the members of the European people’s party, enumerates the 3 non-negotiables:

    – protection of life in all its stages, from the first moment of conception until natural death;

    – recognition and promotion of the natural structure of the family – as a union between a man and a woman based on marriage – and its defence from attempts to make it juridically equivalent to radically different forms of union which in reality harm it and contribute to its destabilization, obscuring its particular character and its irreplaceable social role;

    – the protection of the right of parents to educate their children.

    • Mike on March 19, 2008 at 6:38 pm


    The Church, through its charitable organizations and religious orders, DOES in fact provide cheap education (think mission schools instead of DLSU, Ateneo, et al.), housing (GK), and calamity relief. These are things it should not be doing? Perhaps, but the word of its Master is to do them anyway.

    • Jeg on March 19, 2008 at 6:45 pm

    – the protection of the right of parents to educate their children.

    Im glad we’re not as fascist as California.

    A three-judge panel of the California Court of Appeal has determined parents in that state have no legal right to home school.


    • nash on March 19, 2008 at 7:23 pm


    I agree that the Catholic Church HAS the Right to express its opinion. And I agree with you and DJB completely on their rights. Yes, It’s not so much the state, but the politicians who need the church endorsement.

    I should be more specific actually and say that Church LAWs (which have no value if you are not a member of that church) should not be Secular Laws…


    “The Church, through its charitable organizations and religious orders, DOES in fact provide cheap education (think mission schools instead of DLSU, Ateneo, et al.)”

    Yes, I’m aware of these. They are all over the cordilleras. However, take note of the operative word “mission”. You have to convert! I went to Catholic School which does not accept you if you are not baptised.

    I would like the Catholic Church to open the same schools in Basilan and accept everyone….I would also like them to use their money and open a free hospital similar to PGH….


    • WillyJ on March 19, 2008 at 7:47 pm

    The Church’s application of social doctrine, and supposedly secular laws, both work for the common good. In that respect they should not be in conflict. It is in the approaches that judgments differ.

    The Catholic Church should certainly help everyone. GK for instance, went on a mission to our Muslim brothers in Datu Paglas, Maguindanao. They built homes but did not convert them. check

    • nash on March 19, 2008 at 7:58 pm

    Yes, thank god for GK. They are doing a lot of good. that canot be denied.

    Now, if only we can open the sprawling Villa San Miguel to house the poor and for Cathedrals to be OPEN AT NIGHT for the homeless to take shelter, that would be really good.

    • vic on March 19, 2008 at 9:03 pm

    To me I’d like to see the Church, the Catholic Church in Particular as one Big Charitable Organization. It will do much more good doing such…

    • jakcast on March 19, 2008 at 9:16 pm

    In Italy and Spain, long the bastion of Catholicism, you will find sparsely filled churches on Sundays and where divorce is allowed. I suppose the modern day Europeans have regarded religion as contributing less and less to their overall human development. Especially after numerous wars have been fought in the name of religion.

    In contrast, in the Philippines and in Latin American countries, the Catholic Church continue to be a dominant factor in the lives of the people, especially among the rural folks.

    Is this the difference between being religious and being spiritual? Or are these remnants of colonialism?

    • UP n student on March 19, 2008 at 9:37 pm

    GK is a Charitable Organization, isn’t it?

    Or is GK a proselytizer?

    • UP n student on March 19, 2008 at 9:43 pm

    For a view of how a demonstration can be hijacked by provocateurs, look at this one. New York City.

    • UP n student on March 19, 2008 at 9:48 pm

    A YouTube of the pro-Tibet demonstration, as intended.

  5. Catholics really do not need the imperial clerico-fascist hierarchy that runs their Church, any more than they Kings and Dictators. As a corporate citizen, of course it has the rights and freedoms due everyone. But if “people power” ought to be exercised anywhere (and I do mean “direct democracy” in this case, it should be in the Church of Medievalism, superstition and idiocy hiding under holy cassocks.

    After all, even in Benign0’s simplistic view of things, the Freedom of Religion, as such, cannot possibly square with a serious search for the Truth. For though I have the right to believe in the Great Spaghetti Monster, neither It nor the Men in Skirts and Funny Hats can seriously persuade me that they are serious about searching for the truth.

    What they want everyone to find and imbibe is THEIR truth, to which they have every right, but do we have to believe them if we want to serve God and our fellow men?

  6. A great institution like the Catholic Church, deserves to be led not by a secret cabal of mediocre mumblers (like, most of the Bishops are fairly stupid, unsophisticated goatherds if you ever try talking to one of them. The lowliest bloggers are smarter, even if they know no Latin, because the learning of these men is vacuous though pompous, and hardly worth rebutting for their silliness.

    Now when they dabble in politics, all that can’t show because of costuming and makeup, the posturing and most of all, the hypnosis of 400 years of culture.

    Catholics ought to be more forthright about fighting the evil system that is the hierarchy. There is a great deal of good this NGO could do, if it harkened back to the great Teacher whose lessons have been lost in the fog of Empire and Dogma and Pagcor payslips. El Shaddai? Dios ko day!

    The Church is corrupt because it basks in the ignorance of the people and likes the situation just fine, for how else can their own mediocre abracadabra shine when Mike Velarde wears only slightly less outrageous outfits?

  7. DJB,
    Great Spaghetti Monster, hmm a nice name for a rock band don’t you think. Men in Skirts, meron na yata yan.

    • supremo on March 19, 2008 at 11:02 pm

    ‘GK is a Charitable Organization, isn’t it?

    Or is GK a proselytizer?’

    GK is a Habitat for Humanity wannabe with religion mingled in. It is no different from Singles for Christ which mingles speed dating and religion. They both engage in blasphemous behavior.

    • rego on March 20, 2008 at 12:08 am

    Oh yeah we just love to intermingle everything that makes the whole situation deceitfully complicated. Mixed politic with religion, with showbiz and everything we can mixed with. We dont want to use Rule of Law, we also want the court of public opinion to settle teh debate. Result aneverending argument on which one is is teh best court. A simple senate investigation and testimony become a canonization of the star witness complete with masses in all teh churches around the country as possible. A simple disagreement in the military becomes the chance for Cory to grab her rosary and call for people power…..

    • UP n student on March 20, 2008 at 12:13 am

    Jeg says : “We keep blaming the Church for this and that when in fact it is the State that allows itself to be dominated. Probably because they find it useful to do so.

    The State, or more specifically, it is because the CBCP is a vote-machine — able to deliver votes — that the Executive and the Legislative branches assent to CBCP point-of-view. Add memories of the surge-against-Marcos-in-Malacanang, then all the more the intimidation.

    And right there is a message. Any group that demonstrates the ability to deliver votes — evidence that your platform is shared by a lot of voting-age Filipinos — and Malacanang and Congress will be quite attentive.

  8. The Philippine “Church” is part of the Latin Church. First of all we are not a national church.In Catholicism it is the Eastern Catholic Churches that can be considered “National Churches” If we want a Philippine National Church then that is no less than the Iglesia Filipina Independiente.

    Since we aren’t a National Church, we don’t have a Primate. The Cardinal Archbishop isn’t our primate. Bishops are directly responsible to Rome. The CBCP cannot pass legislation that can bind the sees of Manila or Cebu.

    In a National Church, a synodical form of governance is followed. The IFI, the Episcopal Church have this kind of government. The Eastern Catholic Churches have preserved the synodical system. But CBCP isn’t a synod. It represents the bishops and their dioceses but theoretically not the Philippine church.

    Benedict XVI isn’t really keen on considering the national bishops conferences as legally representing the Latin Rite national churches.

    This is the context by which MLQ3’s discussion on Cardinal Vidal’s powers to order his clergy must be discussed.

    • BrianB on March 20, 2008 at 12:37 am

    I believe homeschooling for very young kids should be banned too. It poses a danger to civic society and may spell trouble for the socialization of young people. Education is the primary business of the government. It is not as idealistic as you think, especially in the primary and secondary level. In the tertiary level, education can take a more idealistic form. The objective is socialization, equipping young citizens to participate and prosper in their country.

    That is why it is compulsory on primary and tertiary levels, and the raison d’etre of its being compulsory is also the raison d’etre of banning homeschooling.

    • BrianB on March 20, 2008 at 12:48 am

    I mean compulsory in primary and “secondary” levels.

    • Bencard on March 20, 2008 at 1:45 am

    mlq3, i wonder if you would be as critical of the church if it allowed lozada and his admirers to continue using it’s pulpits, and take advantage of the faithful, who are just there to hear mass and pray, to disseminate his versions of “truth”. i never heard you say anything against the church when lozada was making the rounds of catholic schools, chapels and churches in metro manila, poisoning the minds of students too young to understand the ways of adult politics, with all its prejudices, intrigues, misinformation and sheer hypocrisy.

    i agree with the notion that, politically speaking, the church is just another ngo with its own interests to protect. while its members don’t vote as solidly, as apparently the iglesia ni kristo, el shaddai, villanueva’s jil, or the muslim groups, i don’t think you can fault any politician, including an incumbent president, who tries to keep in good graces of these religious groups. the president’s practice of coursing some community aids and projects through a particular archdiocese is, i believe, not an attempt to politicize them (they are already politicized as ngos) but done in her belief that it’s more efficient to do so being that the church directly interacts with the intended beneficiaries, and has existing systems and facilities already in place for the distribution of government aid in the diocese.

    as far as the lozada brouhaha is concerned, i think the church did the right thing by choosing to be neutral and not allow lozada and his handlers to ran roughshod on churchgoers who do not believe him and not interested in what he is trying to propagate, i.e., the condemnation of “gloria” and her family. praying for peace, unity, progress and prosperity is one thing. praying for the “success” of a partisan political agenda is another. the former is laudable, the latter, reprehensible, and could lead to further erosion of faith and of the catholic church’s influence in society.

    brianb, you have posted some comments, while i was asleep, in response to mine in the preceding thread. i don’t know what you do for a living but i see you really have a talent for stating obscure nonsense posing as words of wisdom.

    example: “an inferior mind always thinks most people are too stupid to understand him”. fallacy: therefore, a science teacher who thinks most of his freshman students don’t understand his teaching of the theory of relativity is of an inferior mind.

    example: “procedures, bencard, rely on the people doing those procedures”. wrong. procedures don’t depend on those who are supposed to follow them for their validity. they are not rendered ineffective by their being violated. violators are punished, later if not sooner.

    example: “truth: gloria cheated”. wrong. where in the tape did it say that?

    example: “procedure: tape is inadmissible”. wrong. inadmissibility of wiretapped tape is SUBSTANTIVE LAW, not procedural (if you know what that means).

    you cannot, brianb, go through life being simplistic. some “writers” think they can simplify matters by writing misleading nonsense, and in the process, complicate things even more for the uninitiated and less discerning.

    • nash on March 20, 2008 at 1:54 am


    Singles for Christ = Pangit kasi


    • nash on March 20, 2008 at 1:55 am

    “example: “truth: gloria cheated”. wrong. where in the tape did it say that?”

    Another case of Bill Clinton’s “I did not have sexual relations with….”

    • nash on March 20, 2008 at 2:01 am

    “……they are not rendered ineffective by their being violated”

    Eh kaya siguro na-violate dahil ineffective in the first place. ano ba.

    • Madonna on March 20, 2008 at 2:07 am

    “an inferior mind always thinks most people are too stupid to understand him”.

    And a superior mind will always make sure that most people will understand him.

    “truth: gloria cheated”.

    Kailangan bang i-memorize yan?

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