Fr. Pasquin-A A +A
Thursday, February 28, 2013
HAVING read that he was responsible for posting those controversial campaign tarpaulins on the front wall of the San Sebastian Cathedral in Bacolod, I was prepared to listen to a fire-breathing advocate vehemently assigning damnation to senatorial candidates who supported the passage of the Reproductive Health (RH) law.
It was, however, a pleasant voice I heard when I interviewed Fr. Felix Pasquin on Frankahay Ta! (101.9 News FM) yesterday morning. Yes, he was the one who had those Team Patay and Team Buhay streamers installed at the Cathedral, where he is the rector, upon the agreement of an overwhelming majority of the Bacolod presbyterium and with the approval of their bishop.
All the more than 90 priests in the diocese are going to put up similar streamers on the walls of their churches, he told us, in order to raise public consciousness of the Church’s continuing fight against a law that it considered immoral.
The diocese of Tarlac is following suit, he revealed with a noticeable hint of joy especially when he noted that the first province to follow their lead is home to President Aquino.
“We do not know who else are joining us,” he said but from the reaction that they have received, he is hopeful that the movement will gather momentum and acquire a life of its own. In fact, the unprecedented move has been both praised and vilified, with no less than the president of the Jesuit-run Ateneo de Davao University calling the act of labeling candidates as members of Team Patay or Team Buhay, arrogant.
The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) continues to distance itself from the Bacolod diocese’s initiative, preferring to leave it to the laity to find discernment on whom to vote for while the bishops pray.
Pasquin said that they respect the bishops' position but they will not relent in their own campaign. “That was what we did,” he said about praying. Apparently, the prayers did not work for the Bacolod priests because they have moved one step further. He did not discount the possibility of further escalating their campaign.
Some priests have already taken the pulpit to press their campaign against the pro-RH senatoriables. More could follow.
Theirs may be considered politicking in a sense, but they’re not partisan, the rector said, pointing to the fact that both lists contain candidates from both the Liberal Party and the United Nationalist Alliance coalitions.
He’s sorry if some people find the use of the word “patay” objectionable, he said, but isn’t the Bible rich with instances when the Lord did not mince words? As for criticism that their campaign may have violated the separation between the Church and the State, Pasquin claimed that it is their duty to guide the faithful on what doctrines and practices of the government should be rejected because they’re immoral.
Moreover, priests are also citizens who have the same right as any other under the Constitution, he argued In fact, civil law does not bar a priest from being a candidate. It is canon law that does.
Are they not worried that a victory by “Team Patay” candidates coupled with a loss by “Team Buhay bets may be seen as an indication of the Church’s waning influence over the faithful? The results of past elections had been influenced by vote-buying, he replied. “No,” he said, given this experience, a win by Team Patay does not necessarily imply that Church influence has waned or is waning.
I did not agree with many of the things that Fr. Pasquin said. I am not comfortable with the harsh labeling of candidates based on a single criterion. I also believe that as shepherds, priests should stay neutral.
But I admire people who stand by their convictions and can argue passionately, yet still humbly. I admire Fr. Pasquin.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 01, 2013.