Stumbling block-A A +A
Saturday, March 2, 2013
SURVEY shows, not surprisingly, that Filipinos trust the church more than media and government. In a predominantly Catholic country, priests and nuns are the logical run-to guys for the troubled in body and spirit. In our paternalistic society, church personalities are easily, by calling and training, the most motivated to be “generous” to the victims of that system.
There’s the rub. Paternalism is a system that presumes the superiority of certain individuals over others. Since the superior knows best he next presumes to have the right to dictate on others. This, people must know, violates a person’s dignity which makes him everybody else’ equal and guarantees him the freedom and responsibility to participate as an equal in all decision-making affecting his life.
In the paternalistic system we inherited from Spain those on top take care of those below by deciding for them. Sons and daughters take courses and marry partners dictated or approved by their parents or face being cut off from life support.
Students must regurgitate what teachers ram down their throats or risk getting a failing grade. Church-going faithful meekly accept inanities some priests ramble on in their sermons or risk going to hell. Workers must accept what employers decide are just conditions of work or face losing their job and citizens must suffer the whims and moods of imperious government bureaucrats or get no service.
It is a system that is subsumed by the principle that nothing good can come from below. This is not true. The Catholic Church itself has produced so many talented priests and lay people. Yet neither the individual nor collective wisdom of these extraordinary individuals have stopped the corruption and incompetence at the top because while struggling below they are never listened to by the top and when they get on top the system easily makes them forget to listen to those below.
A bishop’s arrogant pitch against Team Patay insults the intelligence of many Catholics, clergy and lay alike, who have fair and adequate knowledge of theology and biology. I have to say he definitely insults my intelligence and assaults the freedom of my conscience. But he is bishop and I am not and the system says I obey him, hare-brained or not, or else... So, I opt for hell-fire as I follow my conscience and vote for the pro-poor candidates in Team Patay. But how many others will?
Flattered by people’s trust bishops will persist in their paternalistic ways instead of modeling the democratic ways of God’s kingdom. Then, like their counterparts, the political dynasties, they become more of a stumbling block in the people’s march to maturity as God’s and this country’s free and self-respecting people.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 02, 2013.