Siegheil for Haring?

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.

Technorati Tags: , ,

Manuel L. Quezon III.

23 thoughts on “Siegheil for Haring?

  1. The good bishop Mondejar hangs his miter on this nail –

    “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 bishop makes the mistake of reading the word “immediate” into the phrase “well-founded hope of success”.

    Hope has no time constraints. It is not limited to immediate success. Some struggles are seemingly impossible and can take decades but we must not lose hope.

    No one should preach against hope because it is an endorsement of living in despair.

    I share the bishop’s views against violence. I too would choose acute infectious diarrhea over violent overthrow. Although I’ve heard those nasty amoebas can cause quite a stir. And leave a mess. But it’s still better than blood on the floor.

  2. “Haring likes terms such as ‘creative fidelity’ and ‘creative liberty.’ ” Reminds me of ‘constructive resignation’ that justified a usurpers to “actually obtained firm control of power in the state,”

  3. Judging Haring’s quoted pronouncements on violent reprisal/action, I personally find quite congruent with the Church’s moral theology on just wars, as initially articulated by Augustine and enhanced by Aquinas.

    On the first criterion, the justification to take violent action or go to war, the following questions are asked and have to be resolved in the affirmative:

    a. Is the cause a just one?
    b. Will the war be conducted by a responsible public authority?
    c. Is there a right intention? (Which among other things, precludes acts of vengeance or reprisal)
    d. Is the contemplated action “proportionate”, i.e., appropriate to the just cause?
    e. Is the good to be accomplished likely to be greater than the evil that would be suffered if nothing were done?
    f. Or if the use of armed force were avoided for the sake of other types of measures?
    g. Have other remedies been tried and found wanting?
    h. Or Are other remedies prima facie unlikely to be effective?
    i. Is there a reasonable chance of success?

    It is quite evident that behind all this restraint over and above the careful avoidance of violence, is the greater solicitude over the common good.

  4. Haring’s moral philosophy as quoted by Mondejar favors the strong and deceitful over the just. If this principle is allowed to prevail, those who resort to brute force and deceit will multiply and life will again revert to being ‘nasty, brutish and short’. That is why the more advanced nations have moved on and started to take political legitimacy seriously. For a more well thought out (and effective) take on the principle of non-violence, Gandhi would be the better guide.

    Juanmakabayan, i’m afraid that one of the worries i mentioned in one of our previous exchanges has come to pass:

    That Arroyo was convent-bred does seem to still be a factor in the eyes of some within the clergy.

  5. I will paste below, what I posted on Ricky’s blog about the letter of Mondejar.

    Sa mga typo at grammatical errors ng letter na ito, akala ko ako ang nagsulat.

    The Jacob and Esau story shows how flawed the blessing of the eldest son,by the father is.

    I was amazed that birthright can be bypassed just by the touch of the head.

    Well, there are more traditions and cultures that I do not understand anyways.

    They say that morality encompasses all authorities even ethical and legal authorities.

    With our supposedly people with authority on morality saying stuff like those and with other all encompassing authorities doing money laundering,paying revolutionary taxes,etc….

    then DJB is correct ,any organization even organized religion should have duties and responsibilities of an NGO.

    Maybe the idea that
    there should be no encompassing authorities,is the one that brought up the separation of church and state and the separation of powers issues.

  6. Startling and unsurprising indeed. Mondejar managed to invoke “the Father’s blessing” not only for Gloria’s illegal occupation of Malacanang but also Israel’s colonial oppression of the Palestinian people.

    But I guess his right-wing views are typical of many if not most of the prelates who make up the CBCP. It takes an extraordinary set of circumstances ((e.g., in the last years of the Marcos era, when the mass movement was in an upsurge, the anti-Marcos reactionaries had consolidated, and there was growing realization within the Reagan administration of the need to “switch horses”) for the views of the minorty of progressives in the Church hierarchy to gain the upper hand.

  7. cvj,
    re Church hierarchy comfortable with convent-bred GMA.

    That exchange is indeed very relevant to what we have now, your take played out. GMA has formed target-specific political-special operations clusters that are effectively able to pro-actively counter-strategize any movement against the Palace.

    re the Church vis a vis the Gov’t: I hope the CBCP adjusts to attain balance.

  8. Another Bishop wrote a ‘return to sender’ letter and sent it to Malacanang with the tainted money. I wish I can also read it to balance out Bishop Mondejar’s letter.

  9. Juan,

    I think Spiderman Saludo wrote the letter for Bishop Mondejar. With added ungrammatical flair to make it look authentic.

  10. Juanmakabayan, as far as i can tell, GMA’s strategy consists of direct appeals to prejudice by exploiting stereotypes added to a mix of confusion and fear that comes from uncertainty about what comes next. To overcome prejudice, we have to get over stereotypes and we can only start doing this by trying to achieve a degree of clarity. Fear resulting from uncertainty can only be overcome by faith – in ourselves, in each other or some higher power. Unfortunately, the former strategy is easier to execute than the latter.

  11. While it may be arguable(depending on which side of the clerical divide you’re on) that the Palace by the stinky pasig has engaged in envelopmental diplomacy to influence the CBCP stand, I am amused by Saludo’s implied assertion that bishops and cardinals are above earthly temptation and are not subject to whoring(my choice of words –appropriate in my view).

    Anyway, anybody notice Saludo’s hairline gaining lost ground?


  12. I guess we can safely say that even moral values has double standards and that the “cloth” cannot shield you from all immoralities.

  13. The thing about those “bribes”. If they didn’t come right around the time when the CBCP was holding their plenary, it would be just another charitable donation to NGOs.

    It’s the timing, the place and the number of people who received donations that gave away the motive and made a charitable act truly ugly.

  14. Phil,
    Some say Bishop Mondejar’s is a clergy version of Bong Austero’s classic cop-out crap.

    Sadly, GMA seems to be succeeding. CBCP and San Juan let downs dampen popular movement’s momentum.

  15. juan makabayan, and with that the list of accomplices grows longer, although i would refrain from judging San Juan as i cannot appreciate the circumstances he is subjected to. his brothers in the military would be in a better position to do that.

  16. Juan M.,
    Latest news is that the bishops are going to hold another meeting. This time to discuss the “bribes”. What? And issue another pastoral letter on it? Ho humm.

  17. these prelates should put up or…

    They assume unto themselves a strong moral voice but how many times must we be subjected to their watered-down reprimands.

    grow some cojones padres.


  18. I will copy-paste below, my comments on Bishop Mondejar’s letter in Ricky Carandang’s blog which I have sent also to Bishop Lagdameo, Ellen Tordesillas and others:


    Your Excellency,

    In mass today, I couldn’t help but shed a tear, because I lost my respect for the bishops who accepted the “envelope”, I didn’t place money in the offertory, and instead will give the money to the “Alms for the Poor” box tutal if the priests need money, I thought, they can go to GMA. It’s a painful reality that we were “sold” by bishops who took the “envelope.” It’s like how Judas sold Christ for pieces of silver. All the more, the statement issued by the CBCP, in my humble opinion, was tainted. I’m sorry, but from my view, GMA is JUDAS.

    However, I will continue to go to church because that is God’s house.

  19. Ooops, I meant to say, “I’m sorry, but from my view, GMA is SATAN.” (last line in the first paragraph).

  20. everybody’s got a price.

    From local governments to the lower house of congress..the church.

    I believe that government apologist Secretary Rick Saludo’s attempts to deny accusations of bribery made by no less than members of the CBCP themselves are’s either his naivete is showing or he just holds a totally indefensible position that men of the cloth can do no wrong.

    As far as I know, bishops of the catholic church and even the pope himself are not infallible and do in fact and indeed commit sin as anyone born human.

    What if the CBCP stand had been less than charitable on this administration?

    Would they cry foul and invoke the overused “separation of church and state”?

    And that cranky attack dog over at the DOJ has accused some prelates of being “dirty-minded” for raising the allegations of bribery.

    Hmm..dirty-minded prelates?

    Yes Raul..I’ll give you that. They do exist.

    But that does run counter to Saludo’s perception that the CBCP across the board, is beyond any sort of ethical shortcoming.

  21. It worked! Game plan: Bribe the bishops and make the act of some of them taint the whole organization. Then Malacanang would say quite correctly: “Hayan, pare-pareho na lang tayo!”

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.