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San Juan Gossip Mills Outlet

A veritable fanatic of the Internet. His avocation is teaching while his main vocation is practicing the much maligned law profession. Currently teaching Constitutional Law at the FEU Institute of Law and a guest lecturer at the De La Salle University teaching "Freedom and Regulation in Cyberspace" in the Graduate Program of the Department of Communication. He is married to his beautiful Ateneo law school classmate and is blessed with a daughter and a son.

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Location: San Juan, Metro Manila, Philippines

Monday, October 10, 2005

The Shepherds

The Sinag movement is a breath of fresh air within the Church. They do not carry any political baggage. They just called spade a spade.

It is very disconcerting that the bishops could not have been more forthright in their initial and subsequent declarations. The issue that confronted them was quite simple enough: “Did the president commit immoral acts in the last presidential elections?”

Unlike lawyers, bishops are not bound by the rigid strictures of evidence. What were merely needed were a decent modicum of intelligence, a sense of justice, an ear devoid of intrigue, and an eye in search of truth. Surprisingly, in their declarations, the bishops waxed rhetoric, refused to walk the extra mile, and stopped short of condemning an obvious moral wrong.

In direct, though not admittedly, affront to the bishops, these priests, nuns, and brothers, who banded together with their fellow Protestant laborers in the field, have, after a contemplative process or in the mellifluous Tagalog word “pagninilay-nilay”, came out with a pastoral statement urging the president to cut and cut cleanly. One is constrained to ask: “Who is the real shepherd?”

This question is asked not because of preference. It is asked based on the actions and the judgment call of the so-called shepherds of the flock. If the bishops, the successors of apostles through the ages, cannot bring themselves to cleanse the temple or refuse to delve into the hardness of hearts of our leaders, what consolation can we gain from their sermons from the altar?

Couched in Christian jargon, their statements evidently fell on deaf ears but despite that, they have adamantly maintained the same inutile stance. Where is the power in their spoken word? Where is their righteous anger?

On the other hand, we see the priests and nuns, foot soldiers of Christ’s Army armed with the breastplate of righteousness, pondering the same dilemma in their hearts. Yet, they are able to divine evil and call upon the people of God to respond in righteous indignation.

Have the bishops forgotten their pastoral role? Their role is not to weigh the political consequences of their statements. Their role is to be voices in the wilderness, unafraid like their Master to accuse Pharisees and Scribes broods of vipers. Their role is not to call for appeasement especially when their subject claims to have a direct line to God.

Their role is to draw the line in the sand, to speak out as Moses did against Pharaoh, to confront the powers-that-be that leaders who have abandoned pretensions to moral fitness have no right to claim the helm of leadership. The bishops of Poland never requested the Communist government to form a truth commission when a priest was murdered. They countered evil with cries of justice from the pulpit. SOLIDARNOSC. Solidarity with the people. That is what it should be all about.

No longer can the sufferance of the governed be invoked to justify continued rule when their will have been subverted, when the entire machinery of government was employed to hollow out a victory, when the military chain of command in the South was manipulated to engineer a defeat against Mr. Poe, not the teletubby, but her favored foe.

All these, the bishops chose not to judge perhaps because they prefer the forest to the trees. But from their twin ivory towers of power and apathy, how can they see the ground cover being slowly decimated by maggots of corruption and the seeds of freedom being suffocated to death by the stench of oppression?

It is good that the church has no E. O. 464 to stifle freedom. The priests and nuns who have nothing to lose but their celibate lives have once again taken up the cudgels, hammers and tongs, to move the indifferent, the compromised, the apathetic among us. That the question to be posed is not: “What is the alternative?” but “Did she cheat, lie and steal?” And if the answer is yes, there is no reason to remain indifferent, compromised or apathetic.

It is reassuring that there are good shepherds still among us, and as the storm clouds gather and as we near the valley of the shadow of death, we shall fear no evil for our priests and nuns are with us, their rods and their staffs, they comfort us.

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.

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