First, priests were accused of involvement in sexual abuses and indiscretions. Then came financial scandals and political meddling. Now, acts of violence have been added to the growing list of priestly misbehavior.
To say that these incidents have shaken the very foundations of respect for these erring shepherds of the flock is an understatement. One has only to look around at the remarkable growth of other Christian denominations and one begins to understand the depths of the shaking.
There can only be one source of warm bodies for the surging populations of these suddenly vibrant religions — the disillusioned and the disappointed from among the ranks of the country’s dominant Roman Catholics.
Pillars of the Roman Catholic Church cannot remain oblivious and impervious to these dynamic changes taking place in the religious landscape. Spanking brand new churches are sprouting everywhere and it is time they take a long and hard look and ask themselves why.
Actually, it is not the sins of priests that drive many of the faithful away to seek solace elsewhere for their disappointment and disillusionment. Priests, as other priests would love to say in their defense, are only human and are therefore also capable of sinning.
What is eating away at the spirits of a growing number of Roman Catholics is the seeming inability, even downright refusal, of the Church heirarchy to do something palpable about these sins.
The Church cannot demand openness and transparency of other people, especially those in government, if it cannot exercise the same openness and transparency when it comes to its own self.
The Church must force itself to acknowledge that openness and transparency are essential elements to build trust and respect around its relationship with the community it is bound to serve in the name of God.
There is however a ray of hope in the new leadership at the Archdiocese of Cebu, with the latest pronouncements of new Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma regarding priestly transgressions providing a sharp contrast to previous positions taken by his predecessor.