• Neither theocracy nor clericalism, just a sound Christian moral order

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    FRANCISCO S. TATAD

    FRANCISCO S. TATAD

    My last piece drew some objections from a friend for suggesting that a Christian nation should have a Christian government. The word Christian, he said, cannot possibly be used to describe “government” because it is not a human being. A word or two seems in order. He is absolutely right if by Christian government I meant a theocratic or clerical regime. But I didn’t. I was merely referring to a sound Christian moral order as the necessary foundation of a democratic government. If we are a Christian nation and a democracy at the same time, then we should be governed by men and women who adhere to the truths of Christ, rather than men and women who do not. That seems logical and fair enough.

    I do not mean a rule by theocrats or clerics, but simply a rule by secular Christians faithful to the rule of law, sound ethical and moral principles, and human rights. There should be no confusion between politics and religion, even though both are in the service of the same human person. The state cannot be prejudiced for, or against, the establishment of any particular religion, but God’s supreme authority is, and ought to be, the first given. Above the sovereignty of the state is the sovereignty of God. This is abundantly clear in the Preamble of our Constitution.

    Death as a political weapon
    But this is precisely what is at risk now. The government’s most visible and persistent action these last six months has been the unhindered killing of suspected drug dealers, which now number more than 6,000. It is not grounded on any legal process, rule of law or moral or ethical principle. It is merely supported by the President’s extravagant rhetoric on the need to kill criminals who should be killed. Philippine National Police Command Memo Circular 16-2016 orders the “neutralization” of all illegal drug personalities, premised on the need to clean up the country of street crime.

    The police have attributed to unknown and unidentified “vigilantes” the killings they themselves could not own, but the killings as a rule have erased the distinction between law enforcement and crime. And we have lost sight of the other issues that should concern a government confronted with a welter of challenges on various fronts. For President Rodrigo Duterte, drug-dealing was preeminently the crime that must be addressed; this was quickly replaced though with the summary killings of those suspected of committing the crime. State crime has thus become the principal weapon to solve street crime.

    The question is fundamentally moral, before it is legal or constitutional. It confronts us not only as citizens but above all as human beings. And yet the government, which savages its critics with violent and offensive language, expects us to suppress any kind of moral outrage, suggesting that the issue is not about the rightness or wrongness of the killings, but about the popular standing of our “populist President.” None of the notorious polling firms ever ask how many citizens think the unhindered killings are right; all they bother to ask is whether or not the unknown respondents are still “satisfied” with the President.

    How many brave Roman citizens would have found fault with Nero or Diocletian while the Emperor entertained crowds by feeding Christians to the lions, I wonder? I do not equate the martyrs of the Christian faith with DU30’s drug suspects, but there seems an obvious similarity in how the imperial authorities acted then and how the authoritarian authorities are acting now. Death has become a primary weapon of political power, there are no moral qualms.

    For the better part of DU30’s first six months, none but the extremely reckless and apparently suicidal dared to speak, sotto voce, against the kilings. Even our moral and spiritual leaders were reduced to silence and prayer. After the foreign “interlopers” —-Barack Obama, the US State Department, US Ambassador Philip Goldberg, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, UN Special Rapporteur Agnes Calamard, the leaders of the European Union—-have all been “fuck youed,” called “sons of bitches” and shown the middle finger for daring to raise their concern, no one below their ranks dared to say anything anymore, except in praise of the “still popular President.”

    The churches react
    But Christian consciences have been disturbed, and one by one, the Catholic dioceses and religious congregations have begun speaking out, denouncing the killings. They concede that illegal drugs ruin lives, but killing drug suspects without due process amounts to exterminating sinners in the fight against sin. It is a far greater evil. Perhaps even the least courageous of them have decided it is time for martyrdom.

    What is the President’s or the government’s legitimate role? This is where the question of “Christian government” comes in. My own view of government—-especially of democratic government—-is one that should bring about the best in us to become not only law-abiding citizens, but above all virtuous human beings. The perfection of society is the constant labor of its citizens, even though they never fully achieve it. The government cannot be indifferent to this effort, otherwise there is very little sense in making it the center of political life of the humblest citizen.

    Christianity is not an ideology in competition with any form of government. Democracy and Christian culture are not antithetical, both are suitably situated to work together for the same ends. The Christian worldview, based on the word of God and the objective moral law, allows man to reach out beyond the material and temporal into the spiritual and eternal realms. Democracy can draw strength from this worldview to understand not only the limits of power, but also the unlimited possibilities for man. It is not for the state and the statesman to construct a perfect social order, but with their help, society could attain the highest levels of perfection.

    Reaching for the eternal
    As the British philosopher Alfred Edward Taylor (1869-1945) puts it in his work on Plato, man is born a creature of temporality and mutability in a temporal and mutable environment. But in virtue of the fact that there is something divine in him, he cannot but aspire to a good which is above time and mutability; thus the right life is, from first to last, a process by which the merely secular and temporal self is re-made in the likeness of the eternal…A creature whose wellbeing consists in living for an ‘eternal’ good cannot be a mere thing of time and change, he writes.

    In the Christian tradition, Taylor continues, this remaking is effected by the grace of God in Christ, i.e. by the power and pardon of God. It requires repentance on the part of the individual and a reorientation of his thoughts and actions from self to God. It requires the submission of his will to the will and purpose of God—-not to destroy it but rather to perfect it. The Church exists as the political institution through which the grace of God is mediated to man, through the sacraments and Scripture. The “remaking” of human nature is not a political task but a spiritual one, the responsibility not of the state but of the Church.

    Governments can observe the constitutionally guaranteed principle of “separation” of Church and State by trying not to usurp the authority of the Church or obstruct or interfere in its work. The statesman has his work cut out for him. His genuine task is to inspire right action through principles of conduct which will promote the perfection of human nature and the environment that enhances those principles. He does not have to act as a petty dictator and impose anything against everybody’s will.

    Not for despots
    I would like to relearn the basics from Duke University Professor John H. Hallowell when he writes in “The Moral Foundation of Democracy,” that the state has its origin in the rational and social nature of man, and should never be used by the individuals who happen to control it for their own purposes. Its purpose is dictated not by the subjective desires of particular individuals but by the nature of man and the end for which he is destined. The state exists to promote justice among men, to help men to become better human beings, to unleash their creative capacities for good, and to restrain their propensity to do evil.

    Plato believed that in the ideal state political power and love of the good would be combined in the same individuals, writes Hallowell. Thus, in the ideal state philosophers will be kings, and kings philosophers. But we have traveled far beyond Plato, and have produced strong leaders who have no need for ideas except their own, unexamined and undeveloped and delivered in crude sound bites, without need of study, analysis, apology or explanation. They demand obedience because compulsion has replaced consent in every sphere of human undertaking. We have lapsed into despotism.

    The despotic man and the despotic state, according to Plato as Hallowell reminds his readers, are but the end-products of a progressive degeneration that begins when ambition usurps the rule of reason. Like a lunatic, the despot dreams that he can lord it over all mankind and heaven besides. And he has installed himself not only among us, but above us.

    “No authority exists to which an appeal can be taken. The will of the tyrant is the final court of appeal, and that will is a purely arbitrary one. It is useless to appeal to the tyrant’s reason or sense of justice, for the tyrant denies that he must justify his actions in terms of reason or justice. It is enough that he has commanded the action—-the rightfulness of his command is not subject to debate, and it may not be questioned…If there is no justice transcending the state, then the state can declare anything it likes to be law; there is no limit set to its arbitrariness save its actual power to give force to its will.”

    The Christian’s weapon
    This is what we must try to prevent at all costs. As citizens, patriotism is our first weapon. This is the better version of nationalism, which has made the last century the bloodiest in all of our history; but even much better is our charity and self-giving as Christians. We have been bought at a great price, says St. Paul; in the service of the good, we must be prepared to offer all that we are, if we are so privileged, as martyrs. But first of all, we must know what the good is, and have the will to choose it at all costs as soon as we know it. Human life is the greatest good from which all other goods come; this we know by natural reason and by our very nature; as Christians we must be prepared to defend it, even as others are prepared to defend it without being Christians.

    In the fight for human life, and all the good things that flow from it (marriage, the family, etc.) we must ever be prepared to obey God rather than men, to see the face of God in the least and most wretched of our brethren. We need a new intelligence and a new courage to reenter and reaffirm this truth once and for all. “The real problem at this moment of our history,” Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI has said, “is that God is disappearing from the human horizon.” This is not God’s fault. Man, as a creature of God, has decided to remove himself from God’s presence in order to banish God from the human horizon.

    We cannot want this said of us Filipinos as we prepare to mark the first 500 years of Christianity in the Philippines.

    fstatad@gmail.com

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    8 Comments

    1. The innocent has always been the savior of the guilty by having him serves as ransom for their crimes. Just like Christ who was offered as ransom by the devils for their own sins. The innocent Christ dying for the devils to appease them.

      The criminally-minded have been harping about extra-judicial killings , and have been crucifying the innocent leader with their devilish repertoire.
      Subtle as they are , these evil men flaunt their feigned innocence by having the president carry the cross of ignominy of which , they themselves prepared and invented.
      Let the president carry our crime in his shoulders and let him be crucified with it—SO THEY THINK AND SO THEY DID!

      The full light of truth will finally bring to naught the undertaking of these blood-thirsty men.
      Everyone should ask himself this question—EXTRA-JUDICIAL KILLING , whose crime is it? Does this crime belong to the one being accused , or does this crime belong to the one who accuses?
      Between the two protagonists , who has the hidden motive to do it?

      Take note that the word extra-judicial has the appearance of a government property because of the presence of the word judicial in it , and so appearing as government-owned.
      Enhanced further by the word extra which prefixes the word judicial , all the more fortifying the government hold on it.

      You must be as clever as the serpent to unmask the devil. You see very clearly that even before the president took office , the crime of extra-judicial killing has already been in existence. And when he assumed the leadership , whether he likes it or not , he has to inherit the sin for the naive reason that it is named and defined after the government.

      And so they say—extra-judicial killing is the killing of a person by governmental authorities without the sanction of any judicial proceeding or legal process.
      So the new leader have to unwillingly inherit the crime which exist even before he came into power.
      And to go even deeper backward , even still in his mother’s womb , the would-be sixteenth president of the nation has already inherited the sin of extra-judicial killing being the highest official of the government today.
      It looks like an “original sin” which according to the high priests is inherited—of course not by everyone but by would-be presidents only.

      So how could the now-president of the nation hide his crime in which he is being accused of—when in reality it does not provide him any hiding place because the word does not provide anonymity to hide him because it is connected to the government.
      Therefore , the accusation of extra-judicial killing thrown upon him is as the sunlight that will liberate him.

      Now the crime , as you can see very lucidly , is a crime forced and forged into the name of the government. There is no way to escape from this predicament as the term itself clings forcibly to the leader. It follows therefore that even if the president has nothing to do with it—he already has inherited a crime , done by his nemesis , the true culprits.

      How can a ruler hide under the guise of extra-judicial killing , when the term itself is self-incriminating? Will any man among you , in his right mind kill and hide himself under the cloak of extra-judicial when the name itself exposes you?
      How can you hide when you are exposed?

      Now , it is therefore very conclusive that the perpetrators of this crime are the very self-same persons who are angry at the president. They are the criminals who are hiding and riding at the back of extra-judicial killings , forming a tandem with human rights who love to defend the evil.
      Who are those partial to evil but the devils themselves?

      Now who is hiding , the one who is exposed or the one who exposes?…the one who is accused or the one who accuses?

      Take a second look at the deceptive word , extra-judicial killing—the word is government-owned and a government property , and as such , it is doubly self-incriminating.
      How can you hide under it when you are already exposed—even before you think on hiding?
      There is no room to hide your crime if you are the president for the word extra-judicial killing is a crime in itself. IT KILLS BEFORE YOU DO IT!
      Will you still drink it despite its self-inflicting poison?

      Bear in mind that only the true criminals do the hiding when there is available place to hide. The word extra-judicial killing does not provide such favorable benefits for the government ruler.
      On the contrary , the word itself , being self-incriminating is a very strong deterrent for the President not to execute the crime. So he cannot , and will never ever do it!
      I repeat—IT KILLS BEFORE YOU DO IT!

      Therefore , the real criminals and the perpetrators of the killings are the very same ones who are making the accusation , because they want the president to be crucified for their own crimes—conjuring up their occult behavior. And so they attest and affirmed : Christ crucified for their own sins—the innocent serves as ransom for the sinners.

      This is how sinners and criminals think and this occult wisdom is embedded in their genes , and am not at all perplexed why drug criminals and their protectors are doing the same thing for the president. I could therefore write this thing : the president serves as ransom for the drug lords just as much as Christ was to the sinners!

    2. When the good and evil forces are at peace with each other , nothing happens. If both opposite forces are living with each other in accord , typifying the christian doctrine that both good and evil should be living peacefully without barriers—then nothing really happens.

      Now someone should take his move to “destabilize” them in order to agitate them , and thereby create movement from within them to divide and separate , the good and the evil.
      When this division occurs , it is harvest time for the good and the evil.

      And when further destabilization is introduced , the more the separation between them widens.
      The evil can no longer hide itself under the cloak of goodness when it is now utterly exposed. Then it is easier for the evil to be exterminated.

      This is what Duterte is doing to exterminate the evil forces—he need to divide and destabilize them. And in so doing he conjures up the mission of Christ why he is coming a second time to earth.

      It is testified , Luke 12:49-52 (ESV)
      Not Peace, but Division
      49 “I came to cast fire on the earth, and would that it were already kindled!
      50 I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how great is my distress until it is accomplished!
      51 Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.
      52 For from now on in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three.

      Christ returns to earth to create division , and so with Duterte just following his master’s projected mission.
      You professed christians from all over the world—what’s evil with that?

      You see Duterte is more christian than anybody else in the world. These people who call themselves christians are ignorant of the other self of Christ , his alter-ego. Did you know that the return of Christ will herald the coming of Christ to his “other self”?

      Ponder deeply on the words of Christ above—what is depicted there is Christ’s alter-ego , his other self. If you know him as a peace-loving emissary , and that is all you know about your Christ , then you are a lost soul.
      A true christian cannot be a true christian , if he cannot accept the alter-ego of Christ , which by all indication , is contrary to conventional belief.

      And his other self is certainly not lovable because in his own words , he will be the one to wreak havoc to a unified family—casting fire on the earth which creates hatred and division among the people of the world.
      Is this not his own prophecy concerning his coming , and it sure would be a bad taste in the mouth of all feigned christians?

      Duterte creates hatred among the lawless enemies by declaring a war on illegal drugs and corruption in the government. That is the way to divide—sow hatred among the world of criminals. And by so doing , he follows the blueprint laid out by Christ himself in his prophecy—TO CAST FIRE ON THE EARTH!

    3. A Government cannot be mixed with the Church| they are far two different institutions.

      I suggest the the religious avoids meddling with the Government| and the Government respects the religions of all.

      At the end of the day, as a Christian| it is only Jesus Christ who can SAVE souls on Judgement Day.

    4. Is this aspiration even possible in the real world? Aren’t the Jesuits the ones egging the hukayin-si-Marcos warriors ? Isn’t the Church solidly behind the clerico-fascist puppet Mrs. Robredo even if her ascension to the vice-presidency is questionable? Aren’t these actions very polarizing of society ? Isn’t consistency in actions a requirement to prove sincerity, and Isn’t sincerity a requirement to prove that one is truly Christian? If the Church cannot prove that she is truly Christian, why expect more from the government? Remember that we are only talking of today, and not the 2,000 year history of the Church.

    5. Sir Vinsensius Gutawa on

      What Du30 wants to promote so far is to establish a society with no God, that all depends on their innate capabilities rather than to their belief in the Supreme Being, ergo, an atheistic society. With the growing number of lives shattered by the bullets thrown out by the police and unidentified “partners for change,” killing may become a growing culture in this portion of the world that values the essence of life as taught to us by our Lord Jesus. Yes, they have a “justifiable” reason to do so but the manner what they are doing is totally a flaw. We need not only a Christian government, to be fair to our Muslim and INC brethren, but a God-centered but unity government that promotes fair treatment of justice to innocents or offenders, to educate everyone the self-rejection of the culture of crime, and to build a clean but humane society that could benefit everyone.

    6. Yonkers, New York
      27 December 2016

      I would seriously suggest that Little Tyrant Rodrigo Duterte and his Cabinet, his head of Departments and Bureaus, the Senators and Members of the House of Representatives, as well as all members of the Clergy,carefully read, understand and absorb this brief Treatise on Christianity and Government, “NEITHER THEOCRACY NOR CLERICALISM, JUST A SOUND CHRISTIAN MORAL ORDER,”by Francisco S. Tatad in the Manila Times of December 28.

      Doing that, I would further suggest that they all ponder the critical question whether or not this Government now led by RODRIGO DUTERTE as President meets the criteria of a “sound Christian moral order,” given the fact that Duterte has inflicted a REIGN OF TERROR on the Filipino people by engaging in the warrantless genocidal extrajudicial mass-murder of those SUSPECTED of being involved in his blood-thirsty Drug War, a lawless and brutal drive which has netted for him, so far, some 6,000 hapless victims.

      I wonder why the head of the Roman Catholic Church in the Philippines, ANTONIO LUIS CARDINAL TAGLE, has remained completely silent on Duterte’s Reign of Terror, when most of the 6,000 whom Duterte has prematurely dispatched to either heaven or hell are CHRISTIANS, Roman Catholics in particular.

      I am sure that his Roman Catholic flock of at least 80 million Filipinos expect him to denounce what Little Tyrant Duterte is doing–long before Duterte achieves his macabre goal of murdering 3 MILLION! But his silence, so far, has been “deafening!” Is he personally afraid that if he denounces Duterte’s Reign of Terror,one of “Bato’s killers will go to his cardinal’s mansion and there simply murder him in cold blood?

      MARIANO PATALINJUG
      patalinjugmar@gmail.com

      • From the fact that former Minister of Information and Senator Tatad had been a part of the Philippine government – to be clear – two administrations, he could not deny that his wisdom and all his ideas and capabilities were not enough to contribute to the attainment of what he has written about. Far from it, for the reality is that previous administrations have progressively mastered the acts of greed, corruption, dirty politics like vote buying to the highest bidder and lately narco-politics. Pity that we now judge as if these basic ills of Philippine society and politics were none existent. If we judge without getting all the facts and the proper perspective, we are doomed as a nation.

        If Tatad’s wisdom failed to flourish in the administration from Marcos to Aquino II, can one expect DU30 to excell at it with all the resultant monstrous problems he has to confront which were the result of the past failures. My humble suggestion is critical support for the present administration and offer your best shot and ideas.

      • Archbishop Tagle is a sane, Christian person. He is a noble and fitting head of the church. As such, he has no business interfering with the government’s affairs.Ir’s unconstitutional, for your information. Unlike Villegas who keeps himself an interventionist to protect his billions of pesos of investments and trades while poor people are nary a food in their table. Greed drives Villegas while Tagle is driven by christian principles.