Dear Prudence

I believe the word of the day for the Catholic bishops will be prudence.

The word prudence has a Catholic interpretation to it, one worth bearing in mind. A meditation on prudence might, indeed, an important group activity for the bishops.

The Catholic definition of prudence includes how prudence is demonstrated, since it is one of the four cardinal virtues::

According to St. Thomas (II-II, Q. xlvii, a. 8) it [a moral agent] is its function to do three things: to take counsel, i.e. to cast about for the means suited in the particular case under consideration to reach the end of any one moral virtue; to judge soundly of the fitness of the means suggested; and, finally, to command their employment. If these are to be done well they necessarily exclude remissness and lack of concern; they demand the use of such diligence and care that the resultant act can be described as prudent, in spite of whatever speculative error may have been at the bottom of the process. Readiness in finding out and ability in adapting means to an end does not always imply prudence. If the end happens to be a vicious one, a certain adroitness or sagacity may be exhibited in its pursuit. This, however, according to St. Thomas, will only deserve to be called false prudence and is identical with that referred to in Rom., viii, 6, “the wisdom of the flesh is death”.

I wish my father, who went to the seminary, were still alive to explain to me how, precisely, bishops would attempt to make a prudent call in the wake of the current crisis.

Let me suggest, however, that the prudent thing for the majority of them to do, would be to call for an impeachment. Doing so would define a common stand; it would be a stand neither the President, nor her opponents seeking to stick to the constitution realm, could oppose. It is one the minority in the House should welcome, and all the senators will enjoy. It would be a challenge to the President’s enemies to prove their accusations, the President, to prove her innocence. And it would certainly afford the country a better opportunity to understand the issues involved.

There will be bishops, I’m sure, who are arguing, right now, that to make a call for impeachment would be “false prudence,” as quoted above. But they are a minority in a heirarchy that profoundly respects the provincial bigwigs, who, after all, are more important to local dioceses than national officials. All politics, even the politics of faith, is local, as they say.


Cesar Purisima will be having a press conference at the Ateneo de Manila at 4 p.m. That should be interesting.

Scuttlebutt: Media was banned from the Assumption College during the Mass for Cory Aquino and alumni because the nuns got word Cory wanted to make her announcement there. They firmly declined and instructed the San Lorenzo Village guards not to permit the press inside the village. Theory of the day, from a colleague: Mayor Binay, perhaps, only likes 2-3 hour rallies because otherwise, there’d be too much garbage to clean up in his city.

Manuel L. Quezon III.

15 thoughts on “Dear Prudence

  1. MLQ3,

    I eagerly await the bishops’ voice but with so many different voices in these confusing times, it is very hard to discern who among those voices is not after their own selfish interests.

    Who truly puts the nation’s interests first? Everyone it seems is after their own agenda. Short of genocide (getting rid of each and every living Filipino on this planet so a new breed of Filipinos can blossom), I can not think of anymore solutions (Obviously,I know nothing :> and obviously, this is not a very “prudent” thing to suggest. :>) I hope there is some Filipino out there (smarter than all of us) who can get us out of this rut.

    Jose Andres

  2. how will we know which of these holy ones are truly guided by the hand of God? Even our priests do not have singularity in their voice.

    My prudent opinion is to take the legal path, and let democracy and the law take over. Because, after all, that is the main reason we elect a leader — to protect these freedoms.

  3. ojse, is it that people are generally good, or often bad? can bad bishops do good things, or good bishops do bad things? how many angels can dance on the head of a pin? that’s why i hate philosophy (or, to be precise, have no patience for it). but i do believe there’s often a collective wisdom in these things; if they have a group decision, and since they reflect both local and national opinion, it’s the closest reflection we can get at this time to a national consensus.

    joachim -i think that’s where we’re headed. personally, i think having made deals to stay in power, people will see the effects of that, impeachment or not; and hopoefully, the impeachment can result in a conviction. if not, well, when life gives you lemons…

  4. it seems impeachment will be the solution. if she says, “bring it on!” i say “damn straight we will”.

    i just hope (wishful thinking i fear) that the process will be fair and that all our lawmaker will have an epiphany of sorts to help them make the right decision. whatever that might be.

  5. The victim here are the filipino people, and we dont deserve whats goin on in our country. People are dying of hunger, doing all sorts of things just for them to have food on their table. The Government is not doing its job in offering a decent life. The Urgency for change has always been there. Whats going on right now is another theatrical act for self preservation. The core of peoples trust was already tainted by the president therefore she can no longer continue to govern. and for the same reason the right thing to do is to give way to next in line by resigning. FVRs proposal is not timely. JV/Jinggoy camp wants a comeback,taking advantage of the situation. I hope the next in line, which is the VP will act on his duty that if the President can no longer fulfill her duty as President, He should take over to regain stability of the country because he ought it to the people.

  6. I dont trust the church anymore. I dont even trust my church about politics. History shows us that following the church for the reason of politics can get us into trouble. There is such a thing as separation of the church and the state. BUT

    The church is a powerful entity. Use it to your advantage but in reality the church is using you to their advantage. waiting for their go signal will also mean we will return to the original system that plague us. Yes we need the church.

    As a man told me long ago You can never beat the house.

  7. Nobody is preparing for the impeachment. It’s going to be a circus.The oppositioon will bungle the case and lose on a technicality, and then the people will take the streets.

  8. I hope they are not prudent.
    If there is not a strong condemnation, it would be anticlimactic after yesterday’s
    Hurricane Cory.

  9. Sun Tzu recognized five virtues and first of these is also prudence or wisdom. When is an act wise? Here’s how I understand it. When something principled is done at the right season and at the right moment, such an act is called wise. Especially if it doesn’t end in one’s martyrdom or destruction. So I’ll be asking myself at least three questions: What is the right thing to do? Is it the right time to do it? Will I live through the aftermath of my decision? This dovetails well, I think, with Baltasar Gracian’s ideas on prudence (the art of worldly wisdom).

  10. In chess, an interesting reply to the Queens Gambit is called Nimzo-Indian Defense. This defense involves a Bishop attack by black that tries to weaken the pawn structure of the Queenside white.

    This defense wins if the Bishop (or bishops) are successful. Otherwise, it’s a party by the White Queen as her pawns take center stage and rally with her.

    The bishops methinks, will be playing a similar strategy. Games with this opening can be long and drawn, specially if the Queen ignores the bishop’s threats and counter attacks with “bishops” of her own.

    If a coordinated attack by the bishops however (black) and knights impede white’s pawn advance, then the Queen is slowly fried with such an open game.

    Will the bishops attack? or accept the queen’s gambit?

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