Teamwork between the State and Church
WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus B. Jimenez (The Freeman) - September 22, 2019 - 12:00am

Today is the twenty-fifth Sunday in ordinary time. As we reflect on the readings today, we come to contemplation on the relationship between the government and the church. In the national level, we are glad to observe that there has been a tacit ceasefire between the president and the Catholic hierarchy. Of course, the two institutions are not really in the best and warmest of relationships. But, at least, for the last many weeks now, the president has not attacked the Church, and the latter has been silent on many presidential decisions, actions and words. This is a good sign, and we hope that this can be and will be sustained.

In our town in Ronda, we have a new and young mayor, Terence Mariano Y Blanco, as well as a new and young parish priest, Reverend Father Amador Bacotot. I have closely observed them when I immersed for five days in Ronda, and attended most of the activities in connection with the 106th founding anniversary of our town, and also the fiesta celebration in honor of our Lady of Sorrows. So far, everything is fine in the teamwork between Mayor Terence and Father Madz. The very significant thing about the new parish priest is the fact that he is really from Ronda, a native son who has returned to serve his town and people.

And Mayor Terence is very humble, very soft-spoken and very gentle in his ways. He is very different from his older brother, the former mayor Mariano Y Blanco III (who was murdered inside the municipal building last year, a few days before fiesta), who was quite very strict and uncompromising. Mayor Terence would often say in his speeches that he is open to being criticized and he is willing to learn from whatever mistakes he might commit. This is a very good sign and that I cannot imagine how this mayor would meet a problem in coordinating with the parish priest.

Father Madz is a very serious pastor and shepherd to the people of Ronda. He has a booming voice and can sing well. His sermons are well-prepared and well-delivered. In so short a time, he has gained the respect and admiration of the parishioners. He has a special mission however, which is to recover some Church properties that are supposedly occupied by some people. An old cemetery comprising a large tract of land along the coastline in the northwestern side of the town has more than one hundred families occupying. I am afraid that this issue may put pressure on the relationship between the parish priest and the town mayor.

I hope that the Holy spirit will guide these two leaders to find a mutually-acceptable solution to this problem. I can be a mediator and a conciliator. As a former DOLE Undersecretary, I have some affiliations with government. As a lay minister, Knight of Columbus and parish formator, I have connections with the Church. I can be a bridge to a fair and just agreement. I can be the bridge if there be any troubled waters. It will be for our peoples' benefit if their two leaders would be above to forge a ''modus vivendi''. I do hope and pray.

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