THE other day Sun.Star published “A reply to Fr. Van Vugt,” a very long reply indeed. Aside from this, I received also from de Jesus an “Open letter to Fr. Van Vugt.” It was sent to me by email from a certain Abraham Llera, apparently a pseudonym of de Jesus. Llera seems to be a columnist also in Goldstar Daily. From this letter it is clear to me that de Jesus wants to challenge me to a debate.

I have told him already that my name is Arnold and that I don’t want to be called Fr. anymore, since I am married now and a real father. I told de Jesus also that I am not interested in a debate for a debate’s sake. He may continue his debate in the Goldstar with the so-called Catholic faith defenders. They love to debate about religion and the bible. But for me, religion is not something to debate about; it is something we should live in faith.

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In his letter, among other things, de Jesus makes a sweeping statement about the Dutch, who like the Germans have not been the most faithful of Catholics, according to de Jesus. It looks like he is getting his information from the internet. From the internet, of course, you can collect all kind of garbage.

In my column, I called a non-partisan Church a silent Church. Renato finds this absurd, when I say that Pope Pius XII’s silence on the fascist regime of Hitler during World War II was unworthy for a pastor whose duty it was to guide and counsel, whatever the risks. His silence was, to say the least, “unheroic”. In my reply I still stand by what I have said about the silent church, and in particular about Pope Pius XII’s silence. Hitler during his time exterminated in his gas chambers 6 million Jews and numerous people of other religions including Catholics. This crime went into history as the Holocaust, a crime against humanity, the most serious ever committed in the history of mankind.

The Catholic Church in the person of the Pope kept silent about this crime. His predecessor Pius XI had earlier issued an encyclical, for the first time in church history written in German: ‘Mit brennender Sorge’ (With a burning concern). This was apparently enough for Pius XII. But it definitely was not enough for the German people, who were predominantly Catholic and Christian. The majority of them had, during the war, collaborated with the Hitler regime. I remember, after the war, the most common excuse of the Germans was: Wir haben es nicht gewüsst. We didn’t know it, that it was that bad.

At present the canonization process of Pope Pius XII is underway but it is greatly delayed because of the strong protests coming from Catholics and Jews as well. To declare Pope Pius XII a saint would be an insult to those six million Jews and also to the numerous other martyrs of the Nazi regime. I myself have a confrère, the Dutch Carmelite Father Titus Brandsma, who died in 1942 in the concentration camp of Dachau. He was arrested by the German Gestapo because he was tasked by the Dutch Bishops to visit all the media bureaus in Holland and advise them not to publish any Nazi propaganda.

Meanwhile Titus Brandsma has been declared blessed, but we are still waiting for his canonization. Pope Benedict XVI who is supposed to do this is also a German. Would Titus Brandsma not deserve to be declared a saint since he died as a martyr, more than Pius XII who peacefully died in his room in the Vatican? People may think that I am disrespectful by saying all these things against the Church. For me, the Church is first of all the People of God whom I respect with all my heart, more than any church dignitary who in my opinion has not lived up to his calling of being a prophetic witness.

I love also the Philippine Church, i.e. the People of God in the Philippines, more than its hierarchy and church institutions that are there only to serve the People of God and not to be obeyed only by the People of God.

(For your comments email: arnvv@yahoo.com or call: 0926-3123366)