A post-election call for action for Catholic pastors: A self-examination of an observer priest
By Rev Fr Johnpaul D. Menchavez, JCD
Very recently the Filipino people have democratically chosen a new father of the nation. Strong-willed. Iron fist. Almost forty-percent of the voters are celebrating the victory of their winning candidate from the South. Everyone, including those who did not vote for him, the majority, is invited to support the new President who upholds almost every Filipino’s battle cry: a true change. Newly-elected lawmakers, governors, mayors, and the like are waiting in line to join him. In this game of Pinoy-style politics there has to be winners and losers.
From the pulpit (or the altars), many of us ministers of God have been silent about our personal choices (which of course we had as citizens like everyone else). Convinced that we are instruments of unity, we refrained from giving the impression that we sided with anyone. We would want all Catholics, even those who call themselves ‘reds’, ‘yellows’, ‘blacks’ or ‘whites’ to be part of our Mass. We would not like to turn-off and deter anyone who would want to approach us and be reconciled with God through Confession. We would want to be accessible to the dying politician and give him the Anointing, whichever political party he or she belonged. Our non-partisanship is indeed something we will treasure in the long run. For us priests, it only reveals our being Catholic…universal.
Our duty is to pray for the souls of the victors, and we also pray for peace for the defeated. The thing that really matters for us appointed Shepherds by God, bottom line, is not who wins. Rather, each person’s conversion, not excluding the politician’s (pols). And the latter is crucial in effecting a true change. The common good is at stake. We want public officials to be holy. Honest. Clean. Unselfish. One who makes things happen. And more importantly, God-fearing. We want them to reach their ultimate end: Heaven. To the extent possible, we wish them to be role models.
When it turns out that our pols don’t seem to be one, may we not be blatant critiques of persons. Let’s follow the lead of the Pope: an evangelization of inclusion. Always. Our flock feels quite repelled when they listen to very divisive politics-filled homilies. Instead, may we provide our sheepfold with our priestly presence, plus, as much as we could, our good and attractive personal example. Pastors totally dedicated to what we could really give: doctrine (and not just feel-good and entertaining stories) and the grace through the sacraments, since we are instruments of it (and not just the blessing of items and persons). If alas, our leaders cannot be exemplary, may we emphasize the ever-present and better alternatives: always to direct our flock to look up to Christ, the lives of the saints in heaven, and on earth.
Unfortunately, as what always happens in every election, some of the victors seem to have been very distant from our Lord’s flock for quite some time already. We will continue to reach out to this ‘periphery,’ as how the Holy Father would have put it. It is never too late. We may not be able to do it personally, but possibly we have the faithful parishioners who are close to them. They could be in a position to influence these pols to the ‘light’.
As observers in the public debates and campaigns, we could indeed be a bit saddened to observe that in this national election, if ever there were ideas by which the voting population based their choices, the fundamental topic about life and the family was not included. Pending anti-life and anti-family legislation and their implementation (people were moving even before the RH Law) are awaiting deliberation. I understand that there are other issues that made the choice on who to vote complicated, and I sure do hope they were factored in. Integrity. Fidelity to spouse. Loyalty to country. Effective leadership. Respect for human rights. Yet, upon talking with people, it seems that some of our Catholic constituents completely turned a blind eye to moral questions. Were they not aware? Did they simply regarded these non-issue? Did anybody tell them about these?
Worse than indifference to morality, something that could dampen the truly Catholic spirit further is the realization that some of our flock support anti-life and anti-family positions. It is quite painful to rediscover that we have several Sunday Mass goers who do not know what the Church teaches, or who have not really understood them altogether. Some of them had the resources, had decided to shout these anti-human, anti-Catholic slogans, and are now there in a serious position of public office, and to implement a change—for the worse.
Reflecting on it further, we may realize that, actually, we may have not provided the very convincing arguments all along. Or, they may have not been equipped to understand them at all, because no one gave them the proper foundations. To have pro-divorce, pro-death penalty, and pro-RH pols who call themselves Catholics reveals a deep failure on how we pastors (and those we direct) have done our catechesis on doctrine and morals. It might be good indeed to examine how effective we are communicating the sublime truths about man, and whether we have really reached out far enough and deep into the confines of the people entrusted to our care.
If we expect a Church that is really involved in the development of the citizen-man and the Philippine society, after this national elections, maybe it is high time we pastors effect a change ourselves in the way we fulfill our role.
Read the source and comments: http://www.cbcpnews.com/cbcpnews/?p=78250
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