Sensibilities, particularly those where Church and State are involved, are easy to offend.

On the one hand, you can’t consider a battered Nissan Pathfinder or a Mitsubishi L-300 to be a “luxury car.”  Compared to the vehicles some of our “public servants” are driving, the vehicles attributed to – and returned by – the embattled monsignors of the CBCP are austere, and not exactly in top condition.  Who are we to deny them vehicles like these if their functions in their missions depend on them?

On the other hand, in a religion founded on the humility of charity, bishops don’t ask for sports-utility vehicles as birthday gifts in return for unwavering support.  Bishop Pueblos’ “lapse in judgment” may be well-intentioned, but the road to Hell is paved by precisely those things.  What we have here is a case of a lack of discretion that erodes people’s faith in their religious organizations.

On the one hand, you would need more than a jeepney to traverse the terrain of far-flung missions.  Let’s face it: an expensive SUV can get the job done better than an old utility vehicle.  It’s not even a necessary evil: cars of that build and quality are necessary for transporting medicines and goods and supplies to the poor and indigent.

On the other hand, money made from fund-raising, Church properties, and collection plates all over the country should be more than enough to purchase vehicles for that purpose.  One can imagine that the generosity of the faithful, the donations solicited from churchgoers, and the enterprises of the diocese would be enough to meet the ends of a vehicle without having to curry favor from the State, or contradict teachings of taking things from gambling money.

On the one hand, the PCSO is, based on the hearings we see every day on TV, is damaged before the public.  It is, by and large, mismanaged, in need of an overhaul, and based on Senator Miriam Santiago’s statement, it may even need to be repealed.  After all, there were no Pajeros returned anyway, and the benefits to the Bishop and the Diocese are incidental.

On the other hand, it’s not the business of government to donate public money to the Church.  The difference is that while the benefits are incidental, the intentions may be different.  The basic purposes, as they stand, meant that this favor was granted (with apparent admission) only to the Catholic Church, which attacks the basic purpose, the establishment clause, and makes it unconstitutional anyway.

On the one hand, the Church already apologized.  The basic acts of forgiveness and contrition have already been done.  The bishops have, apparently, prostrated themselves before the people and asked for understanding and forgiveness.

On the other hand, returning the vehicles doesn’t strike the act out from the record.  That while we may forgive and insist that the bishops keep the vehicles (which they should), this is a black eye that can’t be healed with a simple “Sorry.”

Again: sensibilities, particularly those where Church and State are involved, are easy to offend.  Not because they stand contrary to each other (they, in fact, don’t), but because this whole fiasco attacks the sensibilities of the faithful in the way they see government and the Church.