This refers to Archbishop Paciano Aniceto’s reaction to Aries Rufo’s book: “Altar of Secrets: Sex, Politics and Money in the Philippine Catholic Church.” In defense of his administration, the archbishop said: “It involves discernment that builds and promotes a lasting value. This value is both human and divine, (involving) the will of God and the good of the person. Its application is tempered by circumstances, relation and context” (“Prelature refutes book’s assertions on Pampanga clergy,” News, 6/24/13).
While the good archbishop is not remiss in applying Church law (Canon Law) to his sexually abusive clergymen, I presume that he also must have realized that the “double lives” of some Kapampangan priests is just the tip of the iceberg vis-à-vis the sexual scandals wreaked by a number of Roman Catholic popes, cardinals, bishops and priests in many parts of the world after celibacy (being single/unmarried) was imposed on priests in the 12th century.
I pray that clergymen, who have the vocation to the priesthood and have the gift/charism of celibacy, continue Christ’s pastoral missions despite the odds. Likewise, I pray that Filipino clergymen who, during ordination, vowed obedience to their bishops but are devoid of the gift of celibacy, will not become “Nuns’ Stallions” in the future—meaning, priests who look specifically for nuns/religious sisters as their sex victims.
In addition, considering that the Roman Catholic Church is still a pyramidal structure, obligatory celibacy is the option of an entrenched minority in power, imposing it on an overwhelming majority that does not want it. Thus, to maintain such situation, many ecclesiastical officials, acting as “branch managers” of Rome, are more than willing to nullify the Word of God and uphold a human law (mandatory celibacy) as more important. In his book: “Lead Us Not Into Temptation,” Jason Berry wrote: “The presumption in Rome (Vatican Curia) is that a bishop will keep bad news from becoming publicly known. When a bishop fails at that, Rome looks upon it with disfavor.” And Archbishop Aniceto just faithfully did that!
In the New Testament, it is very clear that Christ never imposed celibacy on his apostles. All, save John, were married. Even the Apostle Paul decided, only for himself, not to marry for the sake of his missionary work. Following this tradition, early Christianity, from the first to the 11th century, both in the West and East, did not have a celibate priesthood. Bishops, priests, and deacons were married. Celibacy was a special commitment made by men and women to a vowed life that was seen as anticipating the reign of God “where there will be no marrying or giving in marriage.” Most of those who took the vow of celibacy were not priests. In other words, celibacy and priesthood were two distinct vocations. This practice remains to this day in the Eastern Catholic Church.
As people of God, bishops, priests and laity are celebrating the “Year of Faith.” May this observance remind us that the Church we stand for is not the church of Constantine the Great, nor the church of Pope Gregory VII, nor the church of the Second Lateran; but the Church of the Vatican Council II and Pope John XXIII, whose canonization is underway—the Church that is not hostile to the modern world.
—DANNY A. QUINTANA
member, Small Faith Community
(BASIC-FARC), Tacloban City