Sad commentary of our times

TO THE QUICK - Jerry Tundag - The Freeman

It is indeed a sad commentary of our times that Caloocan Bishop Virgilio David would be described in newspaper reports detailing his election as the next president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines as someone who was a staunch critic of President Rodrigo Duterte, instead of as someone who was a staunch defender or promoter of anything related to his being a man of God.

I am sure Catholics, of which there are tens of millions in the Philippines, would have wanted to read about the person who was to lead them for the next four years on matters of faith some information that was closer to that faith, perhaps something to inspire and guide them through these very difficult and challenging times.

The times call for strength and hope and it would have been great if some anecdotes about how David himself met and overcame the challenges and difficulties he certainly must have faced in his own life were reported as part of the story of his ascension to the top post of the CBCP. That would have been most inspirational.

Or perhaps some background information could have been provided as to where the doctrinal strengths of David lie, what are his advocacies with regard to his public ministry, where he intends to take the CBCP as a matter of religious policy. In short the public would have wanted and needed to know what his position was with regard to the many issues confronting the church.

But no, the story about David and his election as the next CBCP president dwelt on his being a staunch critic of Duterte. If I still know where certain distinctions lie, I think the story was written with more political twist to it than was necessary. The sad part is that I cannot blame the reporters for writing it that way, and for the editors to let it go at that. For that appears to be exactly how David comes across to them, just another political animal.

It is tragic when ranking members of the church lose their credibility over what they did in politics instead of being respected and honored for doing exceptionally well in their chosen vocation. It is alarming when the number of those who lose their credibility in such an ignominious matter rise faster than the losses can be recouped and replaced.

I can still recall with great disdain how Dagupan-Lingayen archbishop Socrates Villegas openly campaigned against Rodrigo Duterte in the presidential election of 2016, shamelessly using a pastoral letter for his political purposes. To me that was sacrilege. And if he did that for no other reason than his political loyalty to Corazon Aquino, to whom he was political adviser, then I would say in faith and in politics Villegas is a cheap shot.

There is no problem with clerics blasting away at dirty politics from the sacred authority of the pulpit. That is part of their job, to help the faithful discern right from wrong. But when they start peddling their political views in press statements or press conferences, that is already playing into the hands of the devil and the evil games he plays.

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