Making Sense out of the Confusion
We are a nation that seems to thrive in crisis. We live from crisis to crisis and somehow we seem to manage to make the best in us come forth in each crisis.
Among the most recent crisis that we have been faced with in the past weeks is the issue of allowing the predecessor of our present President to travel abroad considering the criminal charges being prepared against her and the resulting animosity between the Chief Executive and the Supreme Court which experts say could lead to more serious political crisis.
It is not for me as your archbishop to pass a judgment on this present state of affairs among our national public servants. I choose to keep my opinion about these matters to myself. I am a churchman not a politician. But inasmuch as you have asked me to help you see through the current events, let me offer these aids to help you reflect on the current events from the light of our Christian faith. I seek peace. Let me help you seek peace.
The primary question is: Is it the truth? Are the protagonists always candid and forthright with the whole truth? Truth must always be laid out in full. Truth is hurt by partial honesty. It is our duty as responsible citizens to seek the truth ourselves and arrive at our own moral judgment. Do not just parrot what the opposing parties say. Seek the truth. Tell the truth. Defend the truth always. Be open. Resist half truths and lies.
Secondly, is it just? Is it fair to the accused whose innocence we must presume until proven guilty? Is the common good always kept in mind? Is the process just? Is the law observed without fear or favor? Is due process used in pursuit of justice or to cover up an injustice? The goal of due process is not to protect the guilty but to insure that the rule of law is maintained.
Is it respectful of institutions? The institutions in society are there for the common good. We must distinguish between the person in office and the position he holds. Is the Supreme Court respectful of the President and is the President respectful of the Supreme Court regardless of personal differences? We must never be wanting in respect and civility without giving in to hypocrisy and niceties of protocol. Be respectful but do no withdraw from a chance to stand up for the truth.
Is it the most loving thing to do? Would Jesus do what we are doing or say what we are saying? At the end of all of these we will all be judged in the weighing scale of love. Is it compassionate and merciful? Is it kind and charitable? In the conflict between being right and being loving, let us choose to be more loving always. One who loves is always on the side of God who is love himself.
My dear people of God, it is time to take a critical look at the discordant opinions we hear and use the teachings of the Lord to make your own assessment of the current situation. Is it the truth? Is it just? Is it respectful of institutions? Is it most loving?
Pray for guidance to see as Jesus sees. To act as Jesus would act. Take courage. Bawal ang duwag. Manindigan.
+SOCRATES B. VILLEGAS
Archbishop of Lingayen Dagupan, 6 December 2011
The Roman Catholic
Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan
(Central Pangasinan, Philippines)