THE CROSS AND THE SWORD
Erick San Juan
Like legions of concerned Filipinos, the scene we witnessed on television a few days ago gave many of us the impression that some “men of the cloth” are out to replay the episodes in the aftermath of the colonization of the Philippine archipelago by Fernando Magallanes in 1521.
Surely, every Filipino is morally obliged to resist corruption and to correct any societal situation that may be detrimental to the national interest.
But the existence of a Constitutional principle of separation of the church and state should be enough to remind the descendants of Padre Damaso that they should not dip their dirty fingers into the broth of governance. They should allow everybody who would want to do it, but the clergy. Beside, these prelates are not united in their advocacy which could divide more our beleaguered nation.
Because of what they do, it makes me throw up each time I hear clerics (whose political loyalty is towards the Vatican ) virtually calling upon every Filipino to rise in open defiance to civil authority and to topple the government.
I also nearly choked when, recently, 5 catholic bishops started talking about “replacing” the government and naming some public personalities with whom they want to replace the current tenants of Malacanang. Although they are right in some of their chosen one.
Certainly, the casts in that recent press conference of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) had an agenda. In fact, some of my friends are tempted to say that the Bishops are - in the guise of advocating moral theology - actually out to supplant people in government with those who they perceive would lick their behind. We should learn from the mistakes of the late Cardinal Sin.
As if what the Filipinos experienced at the hands of the clergy for three centuries before the Americans took over the role played by the Crown of Spain over the “Pearl of the Orient Seas” was not enough, the firing-line scene recently portrayed by the so-called “politicians in white apparel” led by archbishops especially Socrates Villegas of Bataan, a known protege of Sin could be the demonstration of their quest for clerical dominance.
The Church has been given a chance to show its wares. But they blew it.
With that at the back draft, we should not be surprised if one day, we will all wake up to find that the likes of Pampanga Governor Among Panlilio, himself a member of the clergy, is already issuing presidential fiats. Panlilio is a subject of a recall petition for gross incompetence.
Specifically, it reminded us of the role portrayed by the likes of El Frayle, Padre Damaso. In those times, the clergy dictated upon the Spanish civilian government and made life very miserable for so many Filipinos. In the guise of providing the indios the path to eternal spiritual salvation, they sowed terror upon the townsfolk; amassed wealth; took liberties with women and sired most of the ancestors of the present day mestizos y mestizas ala Maria Clara.
The modern day Padres Damaso ought to be reminded that the role they are supposed to play in modern Filipino society is focused on saving the soul of their respective congregations, by purifying them with values from the Holy Bible, rather from their own whim and caprices. Population issues in relation to reproductive health and on taxation must, at all times, be left to the civilian authorities.
It is about time for Filipinos get rid of the culture of being placed before the carrot and stick. We must recall that if the Americans subdued us with the use of the book and the gun, the Spanish crown, earlier, conquered the Philippines with the cross on one hand and the sword on the other.
Filipinos do not deserve being placed under the gun of these disunited and politicized clergies. No, never again.