AS Filipinos observe Holy Week, the Catholic Church in the Philippines issues a most awaited Pastoral Letter about the present political crisis.
Since the resurgence of the ZTE-NBN scandal with the revelations of Jun Lozada, the Church has yet to come up with a definitive official statement. A few weeks ago, the Catholic Bishop Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) was scored by anti-Arroyo forces for issuing a statement that fell short of joining the call for the President to resign. The CBCP condemned corruption (who would support it anyway) but did not see it, as the opposition does, as the root that emanates from Malacañang.
The nation has been thirsting for spiritual guidance from Manila Cardinal Gaudencio Rosales since the start of the scandal because he is perceived to be untrusting of the present political landscape. True enough, when the letter was leaked out to the media, some were quick to brand this pastoral as the first real ‘scathing statement’ from the Cardinal. In summary, Manila Cardinal Gaudencio Rosales, co-author of the letter together with several bishops, sees the current political crisis as a mere “power struggle between the corrupt and the corrupt.”
The pastoral goes on to relate the experience of the Israelites in the desert after having escaped the Pharaoh in the Old Testament (Numbers). Particularly, the letter shows the similarities between the Filipinos after EDSA 1 in 1986 and the Israelites; that many Filipinos were under the impression that liberation was already achieved after Marcos was deposed when in fact, it was just the beginning of a new struggle to rebuild a nation. In short, the letter suggests that the Filipinos are in the ‘desert’ right now and that we should be patient and learn from the experience.
Ultimately, the pastoral urges corrupt leaders to repent because Filipinos look to them, not only for leadership, but also for that humble transformation from the evils of corruption.
Many might find the pastoral not just uninspired but also uninspiring. It’s basically a reiteration of what Filipinos already know – the corruption is at the heart of our country’s woes. Many Filipinos agree that, indeed, this latest scandal is a squabble among thieves. In Tagalog we say, Ang magnanakaw, galit sa kapwa magnanakaw.
Sadly, this fact is the major stumbling block of any movement for change. The people are already tired of mass movements, corrupt leaders. Filipinos are already tired of being used as pawns by opposing political forces hence, they tend to veer away and not be party to any political endeavor. In any case, Filipinos still look up to the Church for enlightenment. Perhaps a clearer message is in order soon. (AJ)