THE SunStar Cebu update on the call by heritage experts for the Cebu Archdiocese not to proceed with the demolition of the Patria de Cebu building to give way to the construction of an integrated retail, office and hotel structure at its current site across the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral was headlined “Patria’s fate sealed.”
In a way, it’s an apt description after the Administrative Board of the Cebu Archdiocese led by Archbishop Jose Palma, according to architect Melva Java, decided to demolish the building instead of preserving it as part of the overall design for the planned commercial complex. Java has insisted that the Patria was protected by Republic Act 10066 or the National Cultural Heritage Act.
We don’t know what the heritage experts will do after the Administrative Board decision considering its possible legal implications, but it is good for the archdiocese’s governing body to make a clean breast of it, so to speak, and explain to the faithful the reason why demolition was preferred.
An opposition to the plan to demolish the Patria de Cebu building was raised and arguments were presented. It would be wrong for the Archdiocese’s governing body to leave these arguments hanging and attempt to kill these with its silence. To be sure, a good number of the faithful want an explanation or clarification on how the decision was arrived at.
While the Catholic Church has always been hierarchical in structure considering its feudal beginnings, that does not mean its leadership should not listen to the views of the faithful in deciding on anything that affects them. Or at least the Church hierarchy has to be transparent in its dealings with the faithful whose support is why the Patria de Cebu got built in the first place.
Without an explanation, chances are there would be sectors that would attach a sinister meaning to the decision. What would be built on the site where Patria now stands is a commercial, meaning money-making, complex. Where money is involved, there tongues also wag. That won’t be good for an already well-criticized religious institution.