The Dakay issue-A A +A
Wednesday, March 20, 2013
BEFORE a new pope was chosen by the College of Cardinals last week, I had wished that his views would include adherence to missionary tenets. Having Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio as Pope Francis was therefore a welcome development, until Msgr. Achilles Dakay spoke. Now I am worried that having a new pope won’t mean much to a problematic Catholic Church.
I caught Dakay’s interview by lawyer Frank Malilong on “Frankahay” on the morning after the selection of Bergoglio was announced. That was an hour or so after I also heard Leo Lastimosa in his dyAB program mention Dakay’s name.
Leo was discussing reports that Bergoglio, as archbishop of Buenos Aires in Argentina, lived in an apartment, rode a bus and cooked his own meals. His suggestion was for Palma to follow the new pope’s lead and shun the Archbishop’s Palace. Leo said he won’t suggest the same to Dakay, who also lives in the Archbishop’s Palace, “kay gahi na ni siya,” or words to that effect.
My impression was that when Malilong conducted the interview, Dakay may have already heard Lastimosa’s earlier commentary and it must have gotten into him. I wasn’t surprised, therefore, that he became testy when Malilong asked him about Pope Francis’s virtues.
My understanding was that he didn’t believe that Bergoglio lived in an apartment, rode a bus and cooked his own meals. He later clarified that what he didn’t believe in (“di motuo”) was the report and not Pope Francis’s humble ways. Either way, the reaction wasn’t good.
It showed lack of unanimity in viewing the virtues of Pope Francis and that the Catholic Church hierarchy shifting to a humbler lifestyle may not happen in the new pope’s lifetime. Practices that can be considered not Christ-like are so deeply ingrained only few will voluntarily follow the pope’s ways and preaching. They would even denigrate Pope Francis’s acts.
Many priests are not of the poor. They not only ride in cars, they own one or many of them. Which means that their own version of penitence is riding passenger jeepneys or buses. Many of them live a life of opulence in convents. Which means that their own version of penitence is living in modest houses. They don’t like sweeping the floor or the yard of convents, and don’t know, or are not willing to learn, how to cook. Meaning that their version of penitence is doing manual labor.
And yes, they hate to climb mountains to preach the gospel to the farmers in hinterland chapels.
But even if I am pessimistic about change, I still dream of it. After all, if there is something worthwhile in viewing Pope Francis’s ways, it is that they conjure hope in many Catholics like me. Perhaps the pope can gather the courage to push the church hierarchy back to the Catholic Church’s roots.
I had a talk yesterday with some of my fellow media workers and was amazed at how many stories of opulence among priests can be gathered in just one sitting. There’s the story of a priest proudly telling students that after only a year in a parish he has already bought a car. Then there was this other priest who shops at Rustan’s and admitted he has not gone to Carbon market in a long while.
But there were some positive stories. Like a reporter seeing a bishop ride in the economy class of a flight they took together. Or a priest actually finding time visiting his flock in the hinterlands. But these acts are not the norm, and the hope is that Pope Francis will find a way to make it one and thus prevent the Catholic Church from slipping into irrelevance.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 20, 2013.