From the Chair
There is something very off-putting about the way the Philippine Roman Catholic Church frames the “right to life,” even more so after failing to defeat the Reproductive Health Law. For Daet Bishop Gilbert Garcera, for example, the huge Philippine population is “part of God’s plan:” one that includes a divine mission to become the world’s caregivers and domestics, and for Filipino women to become “good wives” for foreigners.
It’s either a slip of the tongue, or Garcera pretty much says that the Philippine Roman Catholic Church endorses anti-development policies and white slavery. And for the wrath of God just this month: according to the chronicles of Broderick Pabillo, Manila Auxiliary Bishop, the casualties and damages of Typhoon Pablo were warnings from God against the passage of the RH Bill.
Truth be told, the Philippine Roman Catholic Church can be the “conscience vote” that it proclaims itself to be when necessary. When the Church leaders take a stand against mining, the injustices of sharecropping, and other issues that run counter to decent and productive living, it becomes a very powerful voice in the debate. But with the RH bill, the Church leaders ran counter to the very principles they fight for in the struggle for decent and productive living. The arguments aren’t made from the flock, but from the chair. They are arguments devoid of reality, detached from experience. In his statements, it was as if Msgr. Garcera takes the right to life as separate and distincts from the rights of the living.
In his statements, Garcera inadvertently – perhaps even intentionally – belittled the abuses delivered upon domestics and sacrifices of caregivers as part of a “divine mission.” He trivializes the unity of the family, using exceptions as rules. It was as if marriage – perhaps the most sacred institution to Christians – may be nothing more than utility, in the name of “Filipinizing the world” (read: mail-order brides, Internet wives, name it). To follow Garcera’s logic, it was as if poverty is the instrument of the faith he leads to strengthen itself and to evangelize its word.
He must be the first to realize that it the wealthy Church he leads that benefits the most from the collections in the pew, mostly occupied by the poor.
I believe that if there’s any blame as to why the anti-RH lobby failed, it should be shifted upon the shoulders of its most vocal champions. Reasonable voices – the initial stand taken by Sen. Ralph Recto, as an example – were drowned out in wrath of God polemic that came with added threats of denying communion, excommunication, and allusions to the Newtown Massacre. Now, even with the passage of the RH Law, the vehement opposition of the Church somewhat betrays them as the modern-day cura paroko; the Catholic Bishops Copying Pharisees, at that.
There are doubts to be cast on leaders of a Church that, at one point, have asked for luxury SUVs from no less than the President. There are doubts to be cast on leaders of a Church who, at one point, deliberately obfuscate their roles in perpetuating a system of political dependence, like dynasties and corruption. There are doubts to be cast on leaders of a Church who coddle and cradle the wolves amongst its ranks for crimes made half a world away. Most of all, there are doubts to be cast on leaders of a Church that have become so detached from the realities experienced by their flock – and alienated by its responsibilities to their flock – to defend doctrine more than faith. Doctrine that is as responsible for death and hardship as it is for life and salvation. Doctrine that is as much for life, as it is for living.
There are doubts to be cast on leaders of a Church that make their stand from the chair, instead of from the flock gathered around it.