WE who write most of the editorials in this space have never before written for publication a criticism of a priest or a bishop’s person, action or decision. This is because we struggle hard to do only acts that pass the strictest test of rectitude of intention. We do not write anything for publication unless we have brought the matter to Our Lord in solemn mental prayer. We only do what we believe He has given us to discern in our conscience during our meditation.
It pains us to write this editorial.
Yesterday’s CBCP News online carried the headline story “PNoy’s resignation ‘more urgent’—religious leaders.” The author of the report is Raymond A. Sebastián/CBCP News.
Here are some of the paragraphs of the report:
“MANILA, Feb. 14, 2015—A group of religious leaders from the Catholic Church and other Christian denominations, has renewed its call for the resignation of President Benigno S. Aquino III, implying that the ‘Mamasapano massacre’ and its aftermath have made it even ‘more urgent and imperative.’
“We, bishops of the Catholic and other Christian churches, have often been asked if there is moral basis to this growing demand. Even long before the unfortunate events, the National Transformation Council (NTC) has strongly articulated that the President step down. Recent developments have made the call even more urgent and imperative,” says NTC in a joint statement issued February 13.
“NTC demands the whole government to step down in order for the country to transform through a new and fresh start.
“The group’s members further call the January 25 incident the summit of Pnoy’s mishandling of many obligations, which allegedly reveals the ‘subterfuge of illegal, unconstitutional and immoral foundation’ of his regime, adding that their plea for his and his cohorts’ resignation echoes the general feeling of the people.
‘According to them, Aquino’s misrule clearly indicates his illegitimate claim to the position and that his continuing stay endangers the lives of Filipinos and adversely affects the moral landscape of the nation.
“Citing ‘Gaudium et Spes’ (Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World), NTC shares that ‘at all times and in all places, the Church should have the freedom to teach her doctrine and to pass moral judgment in those matters which regard the common good and fundamental rights and freedoms.’
“It adds, ‘The Church and her pastors must never abandon their duty to denounce evil and to guide men, women and children in their active search for the truth and the good. Moral evil must be removed from the political and social system. This task, the Church and the political community cannot just leave them in the hands of politicians, no matter how virtuous they might be.’
“Amid the challenges modern society faces, the group points out it is ‘now, more than ever, necessary’ that political leaders be outstanding for honesty, integrity, and commitment to the common good.
“NTC explains this is the way officials can preserve the rich human and natural resources with which God has blessed the country; marshal the moral resources needed to face the demands of the present; and pass on to coming generations a society of authentic justice, solidarity and peace.
“Moreover, the religious leaders underscore that theirs is the challenge to answer the ‘call of our Christian faith and life,’ urging Filipinos to let go of their comfort zones, go to the peripheries, and find the poor, the powerless, the marginalized and the neglected.
“ ‘With courage, we confront the seat of power and privilege. No doubt, the call on Mr. Aquino to step down is profoundly a moral issue that can no longer be ignored,’ they add.
“The joint statement was made by the following Catholic leaders: Cebu Archbishop Emeritus Ricardo Cardinal Vidal, Davao Archbishop Emeritus Fernando Capalla, Zamboanga Archbishop Romulo de la Cruz, Lipa Archbishop Ramon Arguelles, Naval Bishop Filomeno Bactol, Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma, Fr. Carlito Clase on behalf of Butuan Bishop Juan de Dios Pueblos.
“Non-Catholic Christian communities were represented by Bishop Butch Belgica of the Christian Bishops of the Philippines and Pastor Arthur Corpus of the United Church of Manila.
“Meanwhile, CBCP as an institutional body has yet to make its own official, collective position on a call for presidential resignation.
“In a letter issued Feb. 4, CBCP head Archbishop Socrates B. Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan states that whether or not Aquino should resign and ‘yield the powers of his high office to a lawful successor is a judgment that he must make, after prayerful discernment, and in all humility and judiciousness.’
“The CBCP chief, however, endorses the creation of a credible Truth Commission or a fact-finding body, believing any inquiry by a police body like a Board of Inquiry, ‘no matter how veridical its findings,’ will compromise the objectivity of the investigation.
“ ‘Before we have all the facts, however, the CBCP cannot morally join in the calls for his resignation, leaving this decision to his humble and prayerful discernment of his capacity to lead and the support his has not only from officials of government but from members of Philippine society,’ Villegas adds. (Raymond A. Sebastián/CBCP News)” (End of reproduced CBCP news report).
We sadly to notice that, apart from his call for BS Aquino to humbly pray, His Excellency Archbishop Villegas’ words rejecting the call for the PCOS-created president’s resignation sound like those spoken by Malacañang spokesmen.
But Archbishop Soc wrote those words on February 4 or 11 days ago. We pray that he has been led by his own meditations to now join his fellow prelates in imploring BS Aquino—for the common good—to resign.