Why corruption is Christianity’s no. 1 enemy

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Corruption is the one nationwide scourge impacting major tenets and goals of Christianity in the Philippines. Hence, it is respectfully proposed that fighting graft be the leading social issue for the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines Plenary held yesterday to Monday. Here are big reasons why:

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First, sleaze undermines honesty, justice and integrity, which Christianity espouses as reflections of God’s truth and righteousness. Grafters employing connections, bribes and favors subvert the rule of law for personal gain, getting around the DOs and DON’Ts everyone should follow.

If what’s right and just isn’t universally enforced, as the CBCP lamented in deploring “selective prosecution” of pork barrel anomalies, then the Kingdom of God is undermined. Rather than divine justice for all, self-serving influence peddling reigns.

Second, as Pope Francis repeatedly admonishes, corruption robs the poor of resources they need. Or worse: as the horrible Metro Rail Transit maintenance contract demonstrates, anomalies hurt ordinary folk, including penny-pinching workers and students, with immense pains and even life-threatening perils.

The latest headline-making scheme exploiting and endangering the needy are the fraudulent claims for some P2 billion in Philhealth funding purportedly for medical treatment of the indigent.

As victims told senators, unscrupulous clinics and doctors prescribed and performed eye operations on low-income patients covered by Philhealth, which may not have been necessary and were done with substandard and unsanitary facilities. The sad results: infections, vision impairment and even blindness.

Plainly, corruption leads to un-Christian rule, which disadvantage “the least of your brethren,” with whom Christ identified Himself, and favor the moneyed and influential. In this Year of the Poor, fighting graft has to be a centerpiece intiative in making the Church’s preferential option for the poor more widely realized and felt in the nation.

Graft wrecks morality, harmony and ecology
Third, graft weakens law enforcement and enables crime, vice, abuse, and immorality to take root and take over swathes of the country. Then drugs proliferate and destroy lives, prostitution and gambling flourish and break up families, petty thieves prey on defenseless folk, and human traffickers turn innocents into sex slaves and narcotics mules. Those resisting are maimed or murdered.

If crime syndicates spawning these enormities are to be stopped, the criminal justice system, from police and detectives to prosecutors and judges, must be rid of corruption. Otherwise, these scourges will keep eroding law and order, public morals, and family life, despite all the priestly preaching and Christian charity.

Fourth, corruption undermines peace and harmony in society, core elements of the Kingdom of God on earth. In the social doctrine of the Catholic Church, these goals are incorporated into the tenets of solidarity and subsidiarity.

The former trait calls for cooperation and unity for the common good, and compassion for one another. And under subsidiarity, the dignity, rights and welfare of individuals and small groups are safeguarded and advanced, not sacrificed for the many.

Self-serving corruption, however, spawns ruthless competition for connections and clout, bereft of harmony and collaboration, with no concern for the poor and powerless who lose out in the scramble for advantage and gain.

In sum, sleaze kills Christian charity, solidarity, and concern for every human being. Nowhere is this lamentable state more dishearteningly depicted than in the wholesale bribery of lawmakers to railroad legislation, setting aside the national good as well as the interests and even the lives of the weak and helpless, including the unborn.

Fifth, corruption has also allowed the wanton despoilation of nature, another silent victim like aborted children, as the Holy Father’s new encyclical, Laudato Si, decried. Among several passages lamenting how graft blocks environmental protection, Pope Francis declared:

“Because the enforcement of laws is at times inadequate due to corruption, public pressure has to be exerted in order to bring about decisive political action. Society, through non-governmental organizations and intermediate groups, must put pressure on governments to develop more rigorous regulations, procedures and controls. Unless citizens control political power – national, regional and municipal – it will not be possible to control damage to the environment.”

In protecting the planet entrusted by God for the benefit of all creatures, past, present and future, corruption is as much the enemy as pollution and avaricious exploitation.

Mammon dethrones God
The last reason for the CBCP to give top priority to anti-corruption strikes at the very core of what being Christian is all about. As Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI explained in his writings over the decades, every believer is called to evangelize the world — himself, his loved ones, his fellowmen, and the community, institutions, and society he belongs to.

Jesus Christ and His Gospel must be imparted to all, so that everyone shall have the chance to respond to God’s Word and embrace His Way, His Truth and His Life. And among the biggest obstacles to this call to faith, hope and charity is the public’s shrugging acceptance of graft.

When man sees a pernicious sin like corruption as something to be tolerated or even celebrated, then clearly, his conscience — the voice of God within him — has been stilled, if not supplanted by the devil’s unscrupulous promptings. And most tragically, countless Filipinos have learned to accept corruption as normal and necessary.

Thus, we go to mass and receive communion, then proceed to take or pay bribes, without even a pinprick of guilt. What’s worse, this perverted ethics is passed on to family, friends, and populace. In effect, the Kingdom of God ends where personal expediency and material wishes begin.

Beloved Cardinals, Archbishops and Bishops, we must restore the revulsion toward graft, which so many of the faithful have lost, dethroning God and establishing the rule of mammon in our hearts. Let a resolute nationwide battle against corruption in our society and within our souls be a paramount goal for the 500th anniversary of Christianity in the Philippines. So help us God.

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16 Comments

  1. Justaskingseriously on

    While we grapple with the reality of corruption, we tend to shy away from the concrete and just go right to the abstract. It is ironic that in a christian country, corruption is rampant. That is an abstraction that implies another abstraction is to blame: christianity or the church or the christian schools. Even making corruption the number one enemy is itself an abstraction. How can anyone fight an abstraction? With another abstraction? Fighting evil with good? Sounds very correct. And all are happy for being right and correct. That is the Filipino trait of pakikisama: do not confront persons to preserve camaraderie; join the club and have fun together. In this sense, “it is more fun in the Philippines.”

    Let us be concrete about it. Who is at the top of the totem pole that sets the tone for corruption? Yes, that is correct. A guy from Ateneo de Manila. Blame the Ateneo. Blame the Jesuits who run Ateneo. But everybody says that the guy is incorruptible. That is more reason to blame the Church. The church is another abstraction. How convenient! People of no faith are ecstatic and they send Stephen Sackur to show the world of BBC how corrupt the Church in R(I)P is. Keep the whole world believing that the guy at the political top is incorruptible; just gloss over his accomplishments that turned him into a lawgiver who is above the law. Best yet, make sure he is not in Manila when you go to grill the Church. Orchestrated. Structured.

    Structures. The structures of power. Limited power = limited corruption. Absolute power = absolute corruption.

    This Atenean must have been enamored by “The Prince.” Niccolo di Bernardo del Machiavelli, a historian, politician, diplomat, philosopher, humanist, and writer (Wiki) wrote it. For Machiavelli, statesmanship is the art of being cunning and duplicitous. It is summed up with “the end justifies the means.” No, sir. The Church teaches that the end never justifies means. But Machiavelli was an Italian, a Roman Catholic! Well, Adolf Hitler must have been raised a christian too. Change the structures of power by whatever means, and anybody with cunning and duplicity can become The Prince (of darkness).

    Solution to end corruption? Look at the faces of corrupt people and use your cell phone to record corrupt incidents. “Hiya” is another Filipino trait. The Manila Times, I am sure, will be happy with your whistle blowing. But use other social media too. Our world has turned digital. Time for crooks to get digitalized.

  2. Sori, kung paulit-ulit na binabangit ko ang bigong pagtuturo ng mga pari sa lahat tungkol sa Christianismo,dahil ito ang realidad na nakikita mo sa lahat ng official ng gobyerno,na karamihan ay nagtapos ng pag-aaral sa katolikong kolehiyo!
    Ang corruption ay parang normal lang kung gawin nila,di mo maramdaman kung may takot sila sa dios at kung ano ang natutunan nila sa mga pari,at saaraming nagtuturo ng religion!
    Dapat tanungin ng mga nagtuturo ng religion kung saan at bakit parang walang dios ang mga magnanakaw na sa gobyerno!

  3. Braincleaner on

    Capitalism and colonialism is the number one enemy of Christianity! In fact, it is the antithesis of Christianism!

  4. Teddy Sevilla on

    The good bishops can start the fight against corruption in their own backyard. Specifically, members of the Pajero gang from the GMA era were never properly named and investigated. Some even now dare call for a transformation of governance in this country, when the status quo,with only a change to a preferred president, is their real and ultimate motive.

  5. Amnata Pundit on

    Moral decay is a spiritual malaise, and spiritual is the Church’s primary mission isn’t it? Well, the Church has been around for five hundred years yet as far as teaching Filipinos how to be one with the Holy Spirit, she is clearly a total failure. How can the Church then lead us into acquiring the moral armor that is the first requirement in fighting this massive corruption the entire country seems to have surrendered itself to? She can start by fighting corruption first in her own backyard. So pious, yet so corrupt.

  6. Vic Penetrante on

    Bishops and priests must specify RESTITUTION besides prayer penance to those who go to confession.

  7. In reading the other replies to this article, which note the corruption of the bishops and clergy of the Catholic church, I feel one essential point is missing.

    The Catholic Church teaches that God himself is corrupt. That is, that God can be bribed with money offerings and gifts of statues etc, to overlook the sins of the giver. The Bible, of course, teaches that the only payment for sins is the one perfect sacrifice of Christ upon the cross of Calvary.

    Moreover, if God can be bribed, then it must be morally acceptable in the Catholic system for priests to demand payment for the services of the “Church”, such as baptism. And, it must be morally acceptable in the Catholic system for bishops to live in luxury while their flocks live in degrading poverty. And, if you can bribe God and the “Church”, it must also be morally acceptable in the Catholic system for politicians, policemen, school teachers, etc to demand payment from those they are supposed to be serving. Why should politicians be held to a higher standard than God himself?

    To overcome corruption within Filipino society, a good first step would be to abandon the Catholic system and turn to the teachings of the Bible.

  8. it’s so ironic that filipinos are professing christians and yet philippines is one of the countries in the world where graft and corruption is the norm and not the exception. it starts with the president down to the lowest public servant. i include the president because he tolerates his minions or allies plunder the coffers of taxpayers’ money. him and ABAD are the authors of DAP and PDAF, to name a few.

    • I respectfully disagree with your view. Corruption is everywhere including the Vatican and the CBCP. Don’t generalize Filipinos are just professing Christians. A number of Filipinos do share the word of God even in hostile and non Christian countries. For your information there are more Filipino preachers now than any other nationalities in the ME. This is what I can say, PNOY might not be perfect but I see big fishes getting prosecuted. So his government must be doing something good for our country. The biggest enemy of corruption is greediness. Many rich Spanish, European and Chinese have exploited and taken the resources from the Filipinos. That’s the truth!!! Don’t blow smoke in our ars.. Too many BS! I dare the common and poor Filipinos to start to be courageous and brave enough to stop the greediness of many people.

  9. Mariano Patalinjug on

    Yonkers, New York
    10 July 2015

    Columnist Ricardo Saludo is right to make the statement, “Why corruption is Christianity’s No. 1 enemy,” which is the intriguing title of his column in The Manila Times of July 10.

    An estimated 80 percent of the country’s present population of 105 million are said to be Christians who can be assumed to believe truly and unconditionally in Jesus Christ, the founder of Christianity, and his teachings.

    Juxtapose that with the FACT that Corruption in this Christian country has already metastasized throughout the body politic, like a malignant cancer. It afflicts the whole bureaucratic pyramid, from the very apex, moving down through the intermediate levels, and right down to the barangay level.

    The only conclusion is that Christianity has failed dismally if not completely in instilling those moral and ethical values in most if not virtually all of its Christian flock which are expected for them to eschew Corruption completely.

    The problem is that the Roman Catholic clergy, the bishops in particular, are themselves corrupt! They themselves are infected with the cancer of Corruption.

    And the Vatican is no exception from this malignant cancer of Corruption. Pope Francis has denounced the Roman Curia, the most powerful institution of the Roman Catholic Church, for engaging in what he has described as its “25 capital sins.”

    There is no need to “beat around the bush” here. Let’s “call a spade a spade,” shall we?

    MARIANO PATALINJUG
    Lapulapu1927@yahoo.com

    • NO. I do not agree that “Christianity has failed dismally”. It is the Filipino Christians who failed Christianity. They do not live up to what Christianity asks for.

  10. I remember reading in the paper some years back that an Archbishop allegedly stated, “Everybody cheats anyway!”. Another allegedly stated, “Cheating is not the worst sin!” How true are these?! If these are true, the level of the present situation undoubtedly had been encouraged by these statements.
    Everyone makes mistakes, has there been apology or expression of remorse over these statement from the clergy?

  11. Felimon A. Soria on

    The problem Mr Saludo is that the people themselves are the ones corrupting the politicians. Just look at the agenda of the majority of leaders of the churches. A lot of church leaders are paid handsomely by politicians to steer and to force their members to vote the one they chose.
    If I may suggest. The catholic church has a lot of elementary and high schools. Why don’t we include in the curriculum the evils of graft and corruption. May be when they reach college/university add another course how best we can implement the solution(s) to stop.
    Too simplistic I know. I don’t think we need a lot of hyperbole.

    • sonny dela cruz on

      I think what you want is CITIZENSHIP as a curriculum like in the United States schools. To be a good citizen of the country. You may find out from your teacher friends in the U.S. how they are implemented.