Carvajal: Bankrupt

HOW former senator Francisco “Kit” Tatad can say Noynoy Aquino’s government is the most corrupt really beats me. Gloria Arroyo’s can easily be argued to hold that distinction. It is also difficult to imagine anybody topping the corruption of the Marcos dictatorship of which Tatad was the unabashed apologist.

The most corrupt is debatable. What is not debatable is that governments have always been in the hands of oligarchs. These have always been and will always be corrupt because of a dysfunctional democratic system of government.

The essence of democracy rests on the bedrock of active citizen participation in government decision-making. However, after elections, which we all know are by no means free, there ishardly any significant involvement of ordinary citizens in government. Too many, not necessarily through their own conscious fault, do not care and are focused only on avoiding threats or getting the enticements of their political patrons.

This is where I take issue with the churchmen members of the National Transformation Council (NTC). One of them, Archbishop emeritus of Davao Fernando Capalla, echoing earlier pronouncements fellow NTC members Ricardo Cardinal Vidal and Archbishop Ramon Arguelles of Lipa, recently lambasted the present government for being morally bankrupt.

Since the Catholic Church is the acknowledged moral guardian of Filipinos, the moral bankruptcy not only of government but also of society in general should be charged to the Church’s failure to function ast he country’s moral guardians. For good reason.

Many Church leaders are not credible moral critics of government for being actually even more authoritarian, less transparent and less accountable than government in the way they govern dioceses and parishes.

Many impose themselves on the faithful. Parish councils either act as puppets of the parish priest or risk being disbanded and replaced. Only the bishop or the parish priest knows how much money a diocese or parish has and where it is being spent.

Finally, in a most elitist way, they insist on being accountable only to the pope or bishop not to the faithful.

(This parish priest is reputed to start mass very late and to preach three long sermons. He also introduces his ideas for the parish on a take-it-or-leave-it basis.

Parishioners suffer in silence, unable to voice out their resentment over his overbearing ways. How typical is this disrespectful way to govern?)

For lack of watchful citizens government invariably slips into moral bankruptcy. But what is that saying also of society’s moral guardians?

Church leaders could model a genuine democracy in dioceses and parishes. If only they would eat humble pie, stop acting like feudal lords and practice what they preach.

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