One wonders what the CBCP is up to when they say, well… interesting things that seemingly indicate a desire to keep people poor and deprived. For example, remember when a bishop said poverty is not a problem? Some priests even go as far as to say illegal drug use shouldn’t be seen as wrong! Perhaps the CBCP seems to believe that they should save people from the consequences of their sin. In other words, they are promoting impunity for poorer people.
I am reading a book titled 10 Dumb Things that Smart Christians Believe by Larry Osborne. Among the dumb things or myths Osborne calls out are “Forgiving means forgetting” and “Christians Shouldn’t Judge.” The first one is based on the phrase “forgive and forget,” which many people assume is the right way to do it, because it has been repeated too often. People assume that when you forgive, you condone sins, letting them go unpunished. The second one I’ll use here, “Christians Shouldn’t Judge.” is based on a misinterpretation of Matthew 5, and is thus used to block people from calling out the wrongs of others.
Osborne counters these, saying that punishment according to law should be observed. He gives the example of a Christian conflicted on whether he should forgive and not prosecute the murder of his son in court. Osborne says the Christian can forgive the murderer, but still push for his conviction in court and be given the appropriate punishment. Forgiveness does not mean condoning or impunity; it means removing any sort of permanent untoward personal ill will towards a person. For example, the father getting revenge for himself, such as finding and killing the murder, the subject of many movies. The father shouldn’t do this. But it does not mean he should remove his support for justice. On the “judge” part, this misinterpretation leads people to believe that people shouldn’t judge. No, Osborne says Christians should judge, but with the right standards. Even if one thinks “secularly,” they are likely to arrive at the same conclusion.
Our webmaster Benign0 said the CBCP works on a corruption of “blessed are the poor.” Based on this misinterpretation, since poor are oppressed and downtrodden, they deserve impunity. But this would not help the poor; it pushes them deeper into social problems. Perhaps the CBCP wants impunity to be moved from the rich to the poor, coming from the assumption that the rich are always oppressing the poor. But this seems contradictory, as they seem to maintain alliances with some rich people.
If they want to stop the recent spate of killings, they should look into things and understand the real details, rather than jump the gun and blame it on the government. It was timely that the police and the Duterte administration revealed that Michael Siaron, the now-dead subject of the controversial Pieta-like non-newsy photograph of the Inquirer, was killed by another drug pusher as part of a turf war between rival drug pushing gangs. Thus, it would be wrong to say the Duterte administration killed Siaron. Rather, all this happened while Duterte was the sitting president. It would indeed be appropriate to call for this administration to do something about it than to blame it. But when the Inquirer headline said, “Thou shalt not kill,” they should have realized the target of this utterance should have been the drug pushers, not the government. And, fat chance the drug pushers would heed such an appeal.
The CBCP has its ideas of a better world. We all do. But just because we mean well doesn’t mean we necessarily do well. We rarely stop to question and think: are our ideas and actions right? And, in addition, people who believe they are entirely right tend to develop a superiority complex and seek to force their ways on others. In this sense, religious parties with such persuasions could be called among the earliest “Social Justice Warriors.”
For example, the CBCP likely supports forced giving, since they feel this is a necessary measure to solve social problems. But forced giving is not love. Anything forced is not an act of love. The picture of dependence between moocher and mooched is not love, but exploitation. Well, these are among several things we can contend with them on. But in the end, there’s a bottom line.
The CBCP, being part of a huge worldwide religious organization, probably sees itself as higher than this (or any) nation’s law, given the history of its involvement in Philippine politics, which I explained in my Quora answer. They still believe they must do their best to compel people and government to follow them, believing this to be the best way to “spread the Gospel” – in other words, by force. That includes standing in the way of judgment and punishment based on law as they see fit, and replacing these with theirs. In other words, they want to be the government.
But in doing so, the CBCP would be contradicting their self-proclaimed duty as guardians of morality in society. Instead, they are propagating worldly values – indeed, political control is a worldly value, as with impunity. Perhaps the bishops need to review their methodology (especially now when a commenter showed that what the CBCP is likely doing now was warned against by a bishop in the 1980s!). Or perhaps we need to challenge them. I am tempted to invite other Christian groups to be part of this challenge. But I am also aware that seeking undue political control is happening even in other Christian (and other religious and non-religious) groups and it isn’t good. Indeed, the influence of any pressure group on Philippine policy tends to challenge the state of democracy, and we must be prepared to challenge them in return.
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