Decline and fall-A A +A
Tuesday, August 21, 2012
ALL empires of the world eventually arrive at the sunset of their power. Absolute power affords rulers an alienating up-in-the- clouds lifestyle that deludes them into believing they can resist man’s inherent drive to seek freedom. As we speak, for instance, a deluded despot is fighting a losing battle against a fiercely determined push for freedom by his Syrian people.
Among the few absolute monarchies left in the world is the Roman Catholic Church. She too, or more precisely her hierarchy, absolute power and all, will fall. No power on earth can resist man’s fight for his God-given right to basic freedoms, among them of religion and of conscience.
But isn’t the Church of divine origin? Yes and no. The faith of Catholics is a gift from God and is of divine origin. However, the monarchical form of government of the Catholic Church is a historical accretion. Early Christians started out as a community of equals presided over by chosen elders.
St. Peter, the first Pope, was not an absolute monarch in any sense of the term.
Vatican II opened the door to greater participation by the laity in Church affairs without being “infallible” about it. Since then, however, post-Vatican II popes have closed the door and asserted their power to rule absolutely. While many bishops, priests and laity in the world are resisting this backslide into medievalism, in the Philippines the local hierarchy is acting, so to speak, even more popish than the Pope.
Nowhere is this more evident than in their ever hardening stand against the Reproductive Health (RH) Bill. Unless the bishops just want to assert their waning power over a more informed laity, one cannot even start to understand their emotionally and unreasonably vehement opposition to the bill.
Why are they now talking heresy (and hellfire?) to pro-RH professors of the Ateneo when there is no infallible doctrine on artificial contraception?
Why do they have to use threats (disaffiliation, blacklist, no communion) if they had sound arguments to convince reasonable people to their side?
Why can they not re-evangelize us, as they said they would, and trust us to be formed enough to follow our consciences?
By demanding blind obedience from Church members and by trying to impose their debatable morality on non-Catholics the bishops are proving themselves to be completely alienated from people, hence disoriented and delusional. Unless they can humble themselves to accept the sense and sensibility ordinary Catholics are trying to impress on them, the hierarchy could well be on its way towards its decline and fall.
No problem. The Church will live on, this time with leaders who are short on raw power but long on moral and spiritual ascendancy.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 22, 2012.