Reason and faith-A A +A
Wednesday, February 27, 2013
YEARS of democratic elections in a so-called independent Philippines have followed the constitutional notion of a political separation between the Church and the State. It is a political principle that this country has adopted in its Constitution from the United States’ own. Thus, since 1946 when the Philippines was granted its independence by the US, the Filipinos have accepted the practice of keeping the Church away from the precincts.
But in this year’s elections, the Philippine Church’s relationship with the State appears to me to have taken a new trail. I cannot say that the Church has taken a path it is forced to take by circumstance.
Months ago, when the government was beginning to “force” the issue over the Reproductive Health (RH) bill, and the country was starting to break wide open into the pro-RH and anti-RH sides, it was clear that the pros were gaining.
What the Church may have slowly realized is that the pros were also good church members and followers. There was no prohibition to being a loyal Churchman or woman and at the same time be a pro-RH Filipino. It was, in a sense, a difference in social motivation and orientation.
That the bill was finally passed after years of being held in both houses of Congress shows that the Filipinos have somehow socially and politically matured. And we can now depend on them to come up with dependable decisions or answers to primary national problems, especially on matters that have something to do with our survival as a people.
I like the turn of events that have led us to this moment in our democratic maturity. I think, the Church is pleased, too.
In this daily yesterday, there is a four-column head report that said “Lay leaders ‘free’ to pick a candidate” with a similar four-column subhead that runs: “But first they must conduct a background check on who they want to support: Archbishop.” The Church leader that said this was Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma. He said that, as a rule, lay persons should be discerning and reflective (of their decisions.
There is only one thing the average discerning and socially responsible member of the Church can say: Alleluia. The Philippine Church has attained a measure of maturity.
The fact that the the average church member and Church leaders have generally accepted the outcome of the congressional voting indicate a good measure of maturity among those in our religious sector.
Of course, the Church did not say that religiosity should not be the only criteria in choosing a candidate to vote for.
In any case, the passage of the RH bill should not be taken as defeat of the Church, but a triumph of reason and faith.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on February 28, 2013.