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Reminder to bishop of need for a humbler Church

/ 12:42 AM April 20, 2013

In the article titled “Not just anti-RH, Church is anti-dynasty, too” Lipa Archbishop Ramon Arguelles was reported to be planning  to distribute sample ballots containing the names of his favored candidates for the May elections (Page A9, Inquirer, 4/1/13). He is the same archbishop who ranted that there could be no reconciliation with those who voted for the reproductive health bill. He obviously does not follow the scriptural mandate to hate what is wrong while still loving those who do wrong.

On politics, the 1983 Code of Canon Law is straightforward: “The priest, as servant of the universal Church, cannot tie himself to any historical contingency, and therefore must be above any political party…. This stance is based on two theological reasons: first, priests should always be a source of unity in the community… second, since the secular and temporal sphere specifically pertains to lay people, partisan politics is the realm of the laity.”

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I would remind him about the need for a humbler Church, as stated by Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle in a radio interview, shortly before he became a cardinal. “You may be saying the right things, but people will not listen to you if the manner by which you communicate reminds them of a triumphalistic, know-it-all type of institution…. I am loyal to the Church but I am not also blind. We must also indulge in self-criticism to bring us back to the poor.”

I wish Archbishop Arguelles would not be so blind as to think that the Church is an authority on everything. In “Octogesima Adveniens,” “the Church gives guidance to practical judgment, not on political and economic systems and policies, but on the moral values that these should respect if they are to be worthy of human dignity…. It cannot however, prescribe specific solutions on the ground of its authority as a teacher, because it does not have this kind of economic and technical competence: its competence is ethical…. It can offer to help the afflicted and make suggestions for solutions, but it cannot make the decisions as to what are the best or the quickest ways of achieving the goal.”

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Misunderstandings and distrust often occur in environments of ignorance. Thus, “Gaudium et Spes” emphasized that for Catholics to be able to play their part in political affairs well, civil and political education is necessary and must be diligently attended to. While in many parishes there are well-trained lectors, catechists and Eucharistic ministers, there are no formation offices that facilitate the lay presence in the real world, particularly in public life.

With so many “contentious issues” in our society, we need to learn how to be able to talk about these issues without condemning one another to hell, as Archbishop Arguelles is wont to do. I hope he realizes that he has become a polarizer rather than a community-builder. Instead of practicing the art of bringing diverse peoples together for projects of common good, he creates more division.

—TOMAS ACHACOSO
former president,
Parish Pastoral Council
St. Andrews Parish, Bel-Air
Makati City, [email protected]

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TAGS: Archbishop Ramon Arguelles, Catholic Church, letters to the editor, opinion, RH law
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