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Is the Church a hypocrite?

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Kris-Crossing Mindanao

Is the Church a hypocrite?

Many commonly assume that when they see the word “church” with a capital C, the reference is to the Roman Catholic Church. In English usage (not just the Inquirer’s), the common noun “church” refers to a building, while the one spelled with the capital C refers to the institution.

Political leaders reacting against pronouncements of certain Church leaders on extrajudicial killings must take note of the same message from other denominations besides the Roman Catholic Church because the institutional Church is not a singular church.

One month into the Duterte presidency, in August 2016, a strongly worded declaration was issued by the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches (PCEC) on the blood shed in the war against drugs. Without glancing at the signatory, one would have easily fallen into the trap of thinking it came from the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP):

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“Where is the rule of law that ensures every Filipino accused of an offense must first be convicted beyond a reasonable doubt by a court of law before fair and just punishments are meted out? Where is justice in the killings of those who are accused when our law does not even permit as a punishment the killing of a person?”

It then graduates to a sterner tone: “How can we claim justice and peace in our land when murderers are allowed to kill with impunity and roam freely?” Then the tenor becomes even more demanding by calling out a response from its faithful: “We call on Evangelical Christians to denounce the unlawful and brutal killings of drug suspects, which demonstrate utter disregard for human life.”

Both PCEC and CBCP statements obviously proceed from the commonality of emanating from the same evangelical message, albeit they may differ in magisterium or teaching authority. Respect for human life is a universal value across many denominations and cultural societies.

House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez’s popish statement that bishops of the Catholic Church are “a bunch of shameless hypocrites” fails context for singling out only one particular messenger when in fact it is echoed by other denominations under similar circumstances.

Alvarez passed judgment by actually implying he is not a hypocrite. He places the onus of proving guilt of hypocrisy on the one being accused and not the accuser.

Freshly minted at that time in his new legislative role, Alvarez probably missed out on the PCEC statement. Seven months and much porcine lard later, not counting more false supporters at his beck and call because of pork enticements, he lashes out at the CBCP statement “Thou shalt not kill” and calls its signatories (the CBCP president signs in behalf of all the other bishops for a statement agreed in plenary) hypocrites.

Refreshing our memories, Alvarez is currently embroiled in a plunder case now up for review in the Supreme Court. He is accused of having financially gained from the construction of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3 when he was transportation and communications secretary. He was technical committee head and member of the bidding committee that awarded the contract to the winning bidder.

The Ombudsman indicted Alvarez for violating the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act with a charge of plunder. In the construction company named Wintrack Builders that won the contract to remove subterranean structures from the terminal site, the name of Alvarez’s wife appeared as an incorporator, her share accounting for a third of the capital.

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To piggyback on the Alvarez judgment on the Church statement: Are the Catholic bishops hypocrites? Yes. Are all Churches’ ordinary laity hypocrites? They are. Everyone is a hypocrite. All of us, save none, are hypocrites, at one time or the other in our lives, Alvarez included.

“Stop the killings, investigate the killings” is hardly any judgmental call at all. We are missing the message: Killing a human being without the benefit of protection from the law is in itself a form of exceedingly grave hypocrisy.

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TAGS: Antonio Montalvan II, campaign against illegal drugs, Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, Catholic Church, CBCP, EJKs, extrajudicial killings, Inquirer column, Inquirer columnist, Inquirer Opinion, Kris-Crossing Mindanao, Oplan Tokhang, Pantaleon Alvarez, PCEC, Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches, Rodrigo Duterte, rule of law, war on drugs
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