“On the Burning Issues”
When the CBCP gathered in conference to discuss their Pastoral Letter, especially on the “burning issues,” the hottest of which was about the impeachment, the bishops knew that their guidance would not sit well with all sectors. But they must proclaim the message “whether favorable or unfavorable…to itching ears” (2Tim. 4, 2-3). The Pastoral Letter needs to be read in its entirety especially the paragraphs on the hottest issue. When we were discussing the issue of the impeachment, the bishops were concerned with proclaiming a message which would serve the country best according to the light of their discernment, prayer and discussion.
Tough problems can be solved neither by force nor by the force of number nor by offering just one solution as if that were the only solution. Tough problems are a challenge for all parties—pro, con, and center—to think, talk and act together, to see new realities and create meaningful change. Each party or sector holds in part the solution to tough problems.
The Pastoral Letter “Shepherding and Prophesying in Hope” is meant to give some guidance to the lay faithful on the subject of social issues and on the burning issues. How this guidance is to be followed or put into effect is beyond the intention of the Letter. Whatever each individual or group decides to do, by God, do it well and don’t sacrifice the common good.
On the question of envelopes or gifts allegedly being distributed and of dinners offered by Malacañang to some bishops, since these were privately done, there was no consensus among the bishops whether to accept or not, whether to go for the dinner or not. Each bishop was completely free.
Truth to tell, the bishops did not have any knowledge of the alleged plan of Malacañang to use these gifts or envelops for political ends. It was only later that they realized the implication of the offer. Some, we know, returned their envelopes.
The bishops were told that the envelopes were for the poor. But how must the poor be help institutionally? On the one hand, bishops with the limited resources of their dioceses are already trying to respond to the needs of the poor, v.g., through their social action programs. On the other hand, must not the government use better its powerful institutions to help the poor? If the powerful institutions are not effective and efficient in the work of poverty alleviation, the question that must be asked is “WHY?” But must it be channeled to the bishops at this time?
+Angel N. Lagdameo
Archbishop of Jaro
July 14, 2006