The Good Cardinal, The Great Stabilizer

() - May 4, 2010 - 12:00am

Ever since Cardinal Gaudencio Rosales was officially appointed to the College of Cardinals by Pope Benedict XVI in 2006, I have watched how this great man of God has had a sobering effect on this nation. In one of the few masses I attended that His Eminence has officiated, his homilies were delivered in a soft-spoken manner, always full of wisdom and very reassuring. Which is probably why his dismayed reaction over suggestions of another people power uprising – which he described as “crazy and irresponsible” – was welcomed by many businessmen at this time since it gives a calming effect on the political situation in the country.

The business climate in the country is beginning to look good, particularly with the International Monetary Fund’s recent upgrade of its economic outlook on the Philippines. A lot of opportunities especially in the business process and outsourcing sector, plus the areas of agriculture and tourism are starting to open up. Businessmen, both foreign and local, are anticipating better growth prospects – and this despite concerns about an election failure. As a matter of fact, a foreign investor has already prepared a large amount of capital regardless of the winner, believing that finally, the Philippines will have credible elections with the conduct of the automated polls on May 10.

Although some business groups are not happy with the Comelec’s decision to reject a proposed parallel manual count, a lot more businessmen, like members of the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry, hail the move, saying the manual counting will only promote confusion and ultimately, unrest which could lead to other “undesirable” consequences like street protests for instance. As some colleagues pointed out, it’s time to move forward and embrace the future – which the automated elections can help provide.

Cardinal Rosales believes the use of the PCOS (precinct count optical scan) machines would limit the possibility of cheating in the May polls. Instead of propagating fear-mongering and floating all kinds of grim scenarios, people should look at themselves, and rather than direct their ire at the Comelec or the machines, they should be angry at “Filipinos who sell their country for P5,000,” lamented the church leader.

Filipinos have a tendency to become very emotional and go overboard, which is why the sobering statement coming from the good Cardinal is like a cool glass of water doused on those who easily get hot-headed, hysterical and irrational when things do not go the way they expect or want. More often than not, Filipinos prefer “quick fixes” – an observation echoed by the Catholic prelate when he remarked that “We are always in a hurry,” and because the people forget to grow in citizenship, it will really take time before the Philippines develops into a credible nation with a mature citizenry.

As the good Cardinal has reiterated, there is no reason to call for a mass movement at this time because the situation is entirely different from the conditions in 1986. There is no dictatorship, we have the Constitution and there is Congress, he said, calling on the people to have a more open and optimistic perspective towards the elections, rather than letting cynicism and suspicion prevail.

Those who have known Cardinal Rosales for a long time aver that indeed, this man of God has always been “a voice of moderation,” mindful that as the shepherd of the Catholic flock in the Philippines, he has the great responsibility to lead them in such a way that would change their lives, values and character according to the teachings of Jesus. 

During critical junctures in the country’s political history, he has always called for calm and sobriety – like what happened in 2005 when calls for the removal of GMA as president were starting to mount. That is not to say however that the 77-year-old Prince of the Catholic Church is averse to giving counsel to his flock regarding the elections. But rather than directly engaging in the country’s political affairs, Cardinal Rosales encourages Filipino Catholics to think for themselves, helping them arrive at decisions by giving guidelines to the faithful in examining candidates.

Time and again, he has expressed disappointment that important issues seem to take a backseat since the campaign has focused more on personalities, with mudslinging and muckraking to boot. He also laments against the tendency of politicians to scrap even the good plans or programs of their predecessors, assuming that “if it was not their idea, then it must be a bad idea.”

Interestingly, in a talk he delivered sometime in March at a Catholic School in Manila, where he also delved on hatred and prejudice being the bad signs of some of the world’s most tragic leaderships, he quoted a portion of the book Understanding Politics by Thomas Magstadt wherein a political scientist said: “Hate and prejudice rather than love and high principle are seemingly the most effective forces in bringing people together in a common cause. The deliberate cultivation of a hate object not only serves to focus blame for the injustices of the past but also helps to mobilize the masses against the alleged cause of the miseries of the present.”

As we all know, the Catholic Church plays a big role in the affairs of this country. The wise words of Cardinal Gaudencio Rosales – the man responsible for the spiritual and moral wellbeing of the Catholic faithful who compose the majority of the people – gives sanity to the situation in the country today. In my opinion, the good Cardinal is the great stabilizer this country has ever had in many years – with his reassuring words that ring with reason, calm and sobriety.

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Email: babe_tcb@yahoo.com

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