06:16 AM July 18th, 2011

By: Conrado de Quiros, July 18th, 2011 06:16 AM

It’s just shamelessness. Or pagkagarapal, as the Tagalog puts it better. Shortly after saying “we are sorry” for “the apparent inconsistency of our actions with our pastoral preaching,” the bishops have taken the offensive and now demand that P-Noy (President Aquino) and Margie Juico resign.

For freaking what? The bishops say for “dragging the Church” into this mess. Specifically, in the case of Juico, for calling the bishops identified by the COA as having solicited or received SUVs from the PCSO “Pajero bishops.” And in the case of P-Noy, for taking the lead in defaming the Church. “The anti-Catholic Church campaign,” says Bishop Jose Collin Bagaforo, “has Aquino’s green light. Shall we just let this thing happen? Let’s make a stand for our faith.”

When did Juico ever call the culprits “Pajero bishops”? When in any utterance before the newspapers, TV and radio, before an audience in a speech, before friends and enemies in informal banter did she ever use the phrase “Pajero bishops”? That term is an invention of media.

In any case, what, the “Strada bishops” makes it better? The “4×4 bishops” makes it better? The “SUV bishops” makes it better?

We only have their word they used their solicitations to give to the poor. Which has got to be the most idiotic justification ever to be offered for that behavior. Idiotic at the very least because of the association between SUVs and serving the poor. Those concepts do not reconcile, they contradict. The notion that people who obsess with SUVs should be interested in any way with helping the poor can only come from the mind of, well, a Pajero bishop.

Idiotic at the very most because of the association between Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and serving the poor. Those concepts do not jibe, they clash. The notion that people who obsess about SUVs, enough to ask for them as birthday gifts from Arroyo, have only the interests of the poor in mind should be enough to spark a rebellion of the poor for the insult added to the injury. Had Capalla, Pueblos, et al. simply not asked for the SUVs, had they simply not asked for them from Arroyo, had they simply not asked for them from Arroyo in exchange for propping up her rule, they would not just have made the poor less poor, they would have made them positively rich.

Which brings me to the heart of the matter. The way Arroyo’s bishops are alternately whining and chortling now, you’d think they were wrongly accused. In fact, they were not wrongly accused, they were lightly accused.

Their real crime was not soliciting or receiving SUVs and other gratuities from Arroyo, the devil alone knows toward what end (God cannot possibly have anything to do with it). Their real crime was what they gave in exchange for them. That was their “constant support,” as Pueblos put it. That was their unwavering refusal to condemn a rule that arose from the still smoldering ashes of cheating. (Zaldy Ampatuan has quite a mouthful to say about that, by the way.) That was their iron resolve to thwart any move to oust a ruler who had no mandate from heaven or earth, from their God or their flock.

Of course they got so little compared to the senators, congressmen, generals, businessmen and media men who also came to Arroyo’s side and got more than SUVs for their pains. That only makes them cheap, that doesn’t make them innocent.

But that also shows why the bishops will always get off lightly—or, as in this case, feeling vindicated—in a Senate hearing. Lest we forget, Juan Ponce Enrile was the biggest beneficiary of Arroyo’s rule. Miriam Defensor-Santiago is the second biggest beneficiary of Arroyo’s rule. After being the biggest and second biggest beneficiaries of Erap’s rule. You expect them to want to scrutinize, probe, investigate, interrogate and otherwise dwell on the bishops selling their souls for SUVs? One thing you can say about Enrile and Santiago: They did not come cheap. Well, there’s yet another thing you can say about them: They got so much for having no souls left to sell.

It’s not P-Noy who is leading an “anti-Catholic campaign,” it’s Arroyo’s bishops themselves. It’s not Margie Juico who has “dragged the Catholic Church” into this mess, it’s Arroyo’s bishops themselves. What gall to imagine they are the Catholic Church. What spleen to imagine they represent the bishopric at all. What bile to call on the faithful to defend their faith.

What is our faith? God is not the truth and the light but the lie and the darkness? Whenever two or three are gathered in Gloria’s name, there I am in the midst of them? Give unto Gloria what is FPJ’s and to the bishops what is taxpayers’ money? That is our faith?

Read our lips: This is not an attack on the Church, this is an attack on you. This is no more an attack on the Philippine Catholic Church than an attack on Arroyo is an attack on the Philippine State. This is an attack you more than richly deserve.

Not least by defaming the Church of Jaime Cardinal Sin, a church that could still distinguish truth from lie, light from darkness. Not least by tarnishing the Church of Francisco Claver, Antonio Fortich, Sergio Utleg, Miguel Purruganan, Antonio Ledesma, and Julio Labayen, a church that could still distinguish rich from poor, God from Mammon. Not least by trashing the memory of all the priests and nuns, the bishops and lay workers, who marched with the poor, fists raised in solidarity and voices sounded like trumpets at the walls of tyranny, reminding the faithful they had a faith, and their faith made them strong, and their faith made them free.

The PCSO should apologize to you? Mahiya-hiya kayo sa mga balat n’yo. At least Angelo Reyes had the decency to shoot himself in the heart.

When are you going to jump off the bell tower for the greater glory of God?

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