There’s the Rub

Make a mess

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I’m a fan.

In but four months, Pope Francis has given more relevance to Christianity than his predecessors have done in 40 years. At least he has given Christianity back its spirit. The Christ of the Bible was one who walked with fishermen and at least one well-known prostitute, spoke with beggars and lepers, and preached to rabble and rabbi. That’s what Pope Francis has been doing these past months, sans the company of a well-known prostitute.

He ended his visit to Brazil last week by going down to the slums of Varhinha, known as Rio’s Gaza Strip for its scale of criminality and violence. He told the horde huddled there in the rain and cold: “No one can remain insensitive to the inequalities that persist in the world. No amount of peace-building will be able to last, nor will harmony and happiness be attained in a society that ignores, pushes to the margins or excludes a part of itself.”

Sometime later, in a chance encounter with the Argentine youth who had gone there to attend a conference, he exclaimed: “I want to tell you something. What is it that I expect as a consequence of World Youth Day? I want a mess. We knew that in Rio there would be great disorder, but I want trouble in the dioceses! I want to see the Church get closer to the people. I want to get rid of clericalism, the mundane, this closing ourselves off within ourselves, in our parishes, schools or structures. [We] need to get out!”

The first thing I thought of when I read this was not about our own bishops. That was only second. But of course you cannot escape that thought, too, given the contrast between their lifestyle and the Pope’s, between their evangelical stance and the Pope’s, between their thinking and the Pope’s.

In the Pope, you have someone who is perfectly at home in the dingy alleyways, finding in their inhabitants not a threat but a possibility, not a faceless mob to harangue but real people to listen to. In the Catholics Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines currently led by Socrates Villegas, you have people who are perfectly at home only at the pulpits, weeping for the nonexistent victims of contraception while the existent born flit by outside the churches selling sampaguita, selling basahan, selling themselves.

But the first thing I did think of was P-Noy’s State of the Nation Address. At the end of that Sona, he hinted at bequeathing a legacy to the nation, one that would survive his departure. One that by the power of momentum, by the force of inertia, would persist after he was gone. Well, to make that kind of dent, to leave that kind of mark, you need to have a vision. One that goes beyond fighting corruption, however that is heroic enough in itself.

Pope Francis’ vision is there for the taking: Care desperately for the poor, and bring the youth to “make trouble” for the untroubled.

Growth means nothing if it doesn’t make the poor less poor. Of course P-Noy also talked about not reposing his faith in “trickle-down effects” but directly intervening to effect “inclusive growth.” But the Conditional Cash Transfer program alone won’t do the trick. It is neither comprehensive nor sustainable, as studies have shown.

It owes its inspiration to an experiment Lula da Silva undertook in Brazil during his two terms which proved immensely successful, reducing poverty by a third. But Lula’s CCT had several things going for it. It was just one of many antipoverty projects; it was an enterprise that drew in civil society and labor and peasant groups, not just a bunch of government officials playing God; and it didn’t lie in the hands of a partisan group like the Department of Social Welfare and Development, and therefore the Liberal Party, determined to produce a next president. Fighting poverty wasn’t just an afterthought in Lula’s government, it was its overriding preoccupation.

That’s what makes for lasting legacies. True enough, no amount of peace-building will keep, no amount of nation-building will stand, in a society that excludes part of itself. But to be able to uplift the poor, to be able to care for the poor, you must first see them. That is something our officials, quite apart from our bishops, have yet to do.

Just as well, during his Sona, P-Noy spoke of a partnership with the people, a partnership that would see his initiatives through. I’m not so sure of this not just because in a very person-oriented country like ours, the quality of the next president will matter greatly, if not decisively, in whether we will preserve today’s gains or not. It’s also because that partnership is at best tenuous and at worst nonexistent.

The relationship is largely one-way. That P-Noy is trying to do his damnedest best for his countrymen is patent, that his countrymen are doing their damnedest best for him is not. Curiously, though P-Noy won on the strength of People Power, or “volunteer power,” and though he has the power to unlock that power, he hasn’t. His government’s mantra these last three years has been “Ask not what the people can do for their government, ask what government can do for its people.” While commendable, particularly coming after a regime dedicated to screwing the people, it is not enough.

What’s needed is a real partnership, which is the people themselves, as in Brazil, taking part in their own governance, in their own uplift. What’s needed is a new activism, the kind a generation had long ago, which proposed to change the world, the kind today’s generation can have, if the Pope is to be believed, and heeded. Government alone can’t do it, whether “it” is stopping corruption or stopping poverty. It needs the help of the people. Who better than the youth? Who better than those most abundantly possessed of restlessness and idealism and dreams? Who better than those best qualified to trouble the world?

Who better than those who can mess up iniquity?

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  • Stun Black

    Inertia? momentum?…baka gravity…patuloy ang pagbulusok ng gobyerno sa gates of hell…abolish pork barrel….

    • Descarte5E

      Entropy.

  • Joseph M. Velarde

    The metaphor perfectly fits! You’ve got a radically driven Pope with an undisturbed, distant Church; on the other hand, you’ve got a rhetorically moral President with a stubborn, corrupt government. The Pope only has to contend with his Church; whereas, the President has to deal with both the government (politics) and the Church. As for the Philippines, I guess everyone still has this mentality that PNOY has all the answers. He doesn’t. In 3 years, he has already spoken so much about “Daang Matuwid” but this remains to be empty words.Though we haven’t heard of any news about him being corrupt, PNOY is surrounded by crooks, hypocrites, and traditional politicians, and by Filipinos who’ve chosen to go to the streets or who’ve become immune to all these. He maybe following his “Daang Matuwid” but everyone around him goes the other way. The same thing goes with the Pope’s call for the priests and bishops–they remain unpracticed. Whenever I hear PNOY’s speech and reckon that his words won’t even spark any form of change, I feel the need for the Philippines to undergo what France, Vietnam, Korea, and Japan have all been through–a revolution or a war that led to purification and re-education of the society. The cancer is deeply rooted, and there’s no other way but to annihilate all the corrupt, the enemies of the state rather than keep them sitting in congress and wait for another generation to forget all their wrongdoings. In effect, the future generation will learn from this–that the older generation was so corrupt it led to their demise–and build a better Philippines. [Just a thought…No provocation intended…]

    • cogito728sum

      It might be just a thought but a thought very just indeed. Merci!

  • pabulaka

    Running this country after years of misadministration, starting from Marcos, is an uphill battle that can’t be corrected in 6 years by PNoy. No matter how clean he is, people in the government right now have different agenda. I do agree to some comments that this country should have a drastic change to instill discipline among the people. It worked on the first 2 years of Martial Law, after 3 and onwards, it was hell. Just look around, on the streets, on government offices, even in the military, people of all ages, young and old alike, don’t have a clue what real discipline is. I;m not sure if this is the generation that Ninoy was referring to, when he said “Filipinos are worth dying for”. Just look at some comments, it could make you puke!!

  • Mike335

    I think CDQ is missing a very important point.

    While it’s true that the Lord JESUS walked with fishermen, a prostitute, and other sinners, what CDQ must understand is that these people DID NOT STAY SINNERS – there was a transformation of life that took place that only the Lord JESUS could do!

    It is wrong to simply assume that the Lord JESUS just walked with sinners – He came and preached the Gospel and asked this people to repent of their ways and follow His example!

    Pope Francis just walked with sinners – he never taught them about righteousness and evil!
    Therefore, he did not follow the example of the Lord JESUS – instead, he made himself a partaker of the sins of the people he failed to teach!

    • galamalama

      How do you know that the Pope simply walked with sinners but never taught them?

      • Mike335

        Why would he compromise the gospel by saying “Who am I to judge homosexuals?” when he should’ve been teaching this people the error of their ways?

        Avoiding telling people the error of their ways is a behavior that fake “servants of God” exhibit.

      • Descarte5E

        Because the bible says not to judge others of their sins. I admit that even me make the mistakes of judging or accusing politicians. But for the Pope, in his position, he cant judge or condemn other people because they will stay away from him if he did that. He wants to take people back to their faith. That is my opinion.

      • galamalama

        I suppose you’re theology is outdated.

    • Descarte5E

      The Pope is still human after all. Whether he preached there or not, the important thing is tha he personally witness the present situation of those people. When he goes back to the pulpit and deliver his sermon, he can speak of more realistic situations and the faithful will be able to relate with what he is saying. preaching inside the church in the case of the Pope is still more effective because he can address more people and in the comfort of their seats.

  • pinoynga

    After reading each and every one of the 69 (what a great no.!) plus or so posts here, makes me laugh and made me feel that indeed I’m very much at home here among all of you guys! No kids!

    The only thing permanent in life are debt and taxes, and if I might add . . . crooks, and more crooks!

    And while we’re all still emotionally engaged in the subject of crooks, might as well take this opportunity to admit to one and sundry that I too, am a crook! Yes, yes, yes, no ifs or buts, yes!

    You see we all must have been told that all of us have the big C in our genes. Might as well face reality today than deny it. Acceptance is part of the cure. And I can only pray that someday till kingdom come, I will eventually be cured.

    So who am I to judge the good bishop socrates, or anyone else for that matter, knowing that we all have the big C, anyway. So for me, no judgment, only acceptance. But of course, as part of reality, I have to admit that I will continue to name names in my own posts, at least of those I read from the PDI’s series of most glorious editorials, among others!

    Today, the parable of the wheat and the weeds couldn’t be as clear to me. You see, the seeds of both the wheat and the weeds have been planted in each one of us. Which we choose to grow and nurture is a personal decision, for Conrad de Quiros, Bishop Socrates, Pope Francis, PNOY, Jenny Napoles, or me, no matter what your opinions are!

    But it is clear, it is not between me and any of my above mentioned crookmates, anyway. It will only be between me and HE who is in-charge of the end harvest when HIS kingdom does come! Now, who will be bundled together? Your guess and guests are as good as mine! God knows HUDAS, anyway!

    Amen!

  • SeanPhilippe

    To think that a Pope visiting a slum is itself something to talk about tells really how the Catholic Church had distance itself to the reality of life.

    Poverty, hunger, prostitution, wars are all part of man’s history and it continues to live on.

    What the Pope should be doing is how the money they collected can help fight poverty, hunger, prostitution, wars in this world.

    All we hear are sermons day after day, week after week, generation after generation. And I say this,. do what you preach. But do they?

    There is really nothing great in what the Pope did. In fact, it was a sad attempt, an obvious public stunt just to please, not us, but their damage ego, their failure to make a difference in this “new” world.

    • VintageBomb

      It is indeed hard to make a difference in this “new” age of ours. In this age where wars, crimes, terrorism, tragedies, poverty, etc. are a hotter topic and trend than peace, order, unity, prosperity, etc.

      At the very least, the head of the Catholic church dared to do what most of his priest, bishops, etc. dared not do. Now is this not something positive?

      You write about public stunt, what have you done quite recently to affect someone’s life positively? What have you done to connect to the poor? To the needy? What have you done to change what you think is right correct what you think is wrong?

      You write as though you have done something profound and life changing to this “new” age. In my thoughts and actions, I myself is guilty of such. But who are we to judge someone’s actions as sad attempts when some lives are being transformed by this “public stunt”?

      Why don’t we move from viewing something like this in a negative perspective to a positive one? Why not applaud everyone who has done or is doing the same? If only we can view most things in a positive way, our lives would have been much better. Why not make a positive impact instead of negative ones?

      • SeanPhilippe

        If I am a Pope, If I am a President, If I am a Judge, If I am a Senator, If I am a famous star, I believe I can make a more positive impact other than just visiting a slum area.

        What did he do there, in the slum area of Brazil? He attacks inequality. What is new on that? Inequality has been there since we all became man. All we got are sermons. All he got are words. So, what else he can give? I myself can denounce inequality and who am I for you to even recognize my statement.

        We have churches built in grand style. Churches got donations from the people every weekend. And now, he speaks of inequality.

        Come on now, wake up.

  • Eelap

    Our mayor won by the votes of the CCT beneficiaries

  • mad_as_Hamlet

    * * * * * * *
    Pardon me, but I did get to read some time ago that Mr. de Quiros has a degree in Economics, too. Although, of course, it may not necessarily mean that he is an “economist,” as you say, however you define that term.
    – – -

  • mad_as_Hamlet

    * * * * * * *
    Copy that. Not too sure about it myself. And, nowadays, there’s also this “online degrees” available, to boot. Anyway, thanks for the reply.
    – – -

  • tadasolo

    Hey retard let us not spoil reality here. The venom and hate in you and your kind in quite obvious and the photo you used on an innocent autistic child whose only association is with this president as a nephew says a billion times more about you. We should leave it at that

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