A new dawn-A A +A
Monday, March 18, 2013
TOMORROW is the day that the Lord has made, so goes Psalm 118:24. Can we rejoice and be glad? For tomorrow is the day when lawyers of Bacolod Bishop Vicente Navarra will be arguing the Team Patay/Team Buhay case of the Diocese of Bacolod against the Comelec at the Supreme Court.
It is touch-and-go which side will the Supreme Court will uphold on the 6 by 10 feet tarpaulin in front of the San Sebastian Cathedral that names and shames senatorial candidates and partylist groups that it classified as "Team Patay" and "Team Buhay" those senators who voted against the RH Bill.
But I can rejoice and be glad not here in Bacolod but in the Vatican. Habemus Papam. The world now knows that Argentinian cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio is now Pope Francis.
Similar to the situation of our Bishops against P-Noy and the "Team Patay" candidates, Bergoglio has his row with President Cristina Kirchner on gay marriages and adoption of free contraceptives for all.
Yet there is more to the new Pope than getting stuck with the issue on government-subsidized contraceptive freebies. Sergio Rubin, the religion writer for the Buenos Aires newspaper Clarin, said that Bergoglio is "conservative at the level of doctrine, and progressive on social issues."
Bergoglio's choice of the papal name Francis, also a first, was a non-traditional choice as it honors a saint known for stressing humility and living a life of poverty. St. Francis of Assisi, Bergoglio's inspiration, forsook a life of plenty and comfort to embrace Lady Poverty.
In fact, President Barack Obama, who himself is at odds with pro-life groups in the US, welcomed the pope's election, saying, "As a champion of the poor and the most vulnerable among us, he carries forth the message of love and compassion that has inspired the world for more than two thousand years-that in each other we see the face of God."
Then there's Stanley Hauerwas, a respected Protestant theologian at Duke Divinity School who commented that "It's remarkable that they've chosen a Jesuit," said "That's even more remarkable than choosing a non-European."
Either way, Hauerwas sensed immense symbolism: "That he's a Jesuit says so much about his commitment to the poor, and that he's taken the name of Francis ... clearly gestures that the Roman Catholic Church not only serves the poor, the Roman Catholic Church is the church of the poor."
Pope Francis, in his sermons, often stressed social inclusion and criticized governments that failed to help those on the margins of society, describing poverty in Argentina as "immoral and unjust."
Bergoglio once labeled priests who refuse to baptize children born outside marriage as "hypocrites."
"In our ecclesiastical region there are priests who don't baptize the children of single mothers because they weren't conceived in the sanctity of marriage," Bergoglio told his priests.
"These are today's hypocrites. Those who clericalize the Church. Those who separate the people of God from salvation. And this poor girl who, rather than returning the child to sender, had the courage to carry it into the world, must wander from parish to parish so that it's baptized!"
No, for the new Pope, there is more to a Catholic than the reproductive issue. The larger picture is the issue of poverty, the biggest affront to human dignity and the denial of the right to life.
Rubin rhetorically asked, "Is Bergoglio a progressive-a liberation theologist even? No. He's no third-world priest. Does he criticize the International Monetary Fund, and neoliberalism? Yes. Does he spend a great deal of time in the slums? Yes."
This is the new dawn for the Catholic faithful. May our Bacolod pastors heed and embrace the examples of Pope Francis, of expanding its work toward the upliftment of the quality of life of our poor.
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Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on March 18, 2013.