Mitsubishops: the CBCP conveniently absolves its own and remains above the Law


A statement issued last week by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) on the matter of some of its members using taxpayers’ funds to buy luxury sport utility vehicles (SUVs) for use in their “field work,” made it quite categorical: “Our conscience is clear.”

But of course it is. This is a statement coming from the henchmen of an institution that sees itself as the sole legitimate channel that dispenses “God’s mercy” and delivers the sacrament of “reconciliation” that, effectively, absolves one’s “sins.” The belief here is premised on the notion that the Clergy are the sole inheritors of the authority to forgive sins that Jesus Christ supposedly left to his apostles after he died…

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It is therefore clear from the words of Christ that the Apostles had power to forgive sins. But this was not a personal prerogative that was to erase at their death; it was granted to them in their official capacity and hence as a permanent institution in the Church — no less permanent than the mission to teach and baptize all nations. Christ foresaw that even those who received faith and baptism, whether during the lifetime of the Apostles or later, would fall into sin and therefore would need forgiveness in order to be saved. He must, then, have intended that the power to forgive should be transmitted from the Apostles to their successors and be used as long as there would be sinners in the Church, and that means to the end of time.

Quite ironic that, on one hand, the Church would enshrine at the heart of its sacred dogma that sort of absolute power while, on the other, propagate among its constituents an image of it being a champion of “democracy”. This democracy, we might highlight yet again, has at its core the principle of check-and-balance, where co-equal independent branches of government serve as mutual control mechanisms to prevent abuse of power by and spread of inbred thinking in any one of its branches. It is no surprise, therefore, that an institution such as the Roman Catholic Church had, for centuries, remained imprisoned in a framework of flawed and inconsistent philosophical constructs. The Church recognises no authority other than itself. That’s absolute power by any definition.

So like the fool who self-diagnoses himself rather than seek professional medical advise, the CBCP clears its own conscience.

Recall though exactly how the centre of the imbroglio, the “Reverend” Bishop Juan de Dios Pueblos made the request for the fancy wheels in his letter to then President Gloria Arroyo

“I hope you will never fail to give a brand new car which would serve as your birthday gift to me,” Pueblos said in the letter.

“For your information, I have with me a seven-year-old car which is not anymore in good running condition. Therefore, this needs to be replaced very soon,” he added.

Arroyo agreed and after 5 months, the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) gave Pueblos a check for P 1.7 million, which he used to buy a Mitsubishi Montero.

Looks like there is something here that is a lot “clearer” than someone’s conscience.

The Reverend Father Joaquin Bernas SJ, showed in a recent article that there is hardly any legal basis for a criminal prosecution against the “Mitsubishops.” So even as the Senate (and, the House, perhaps), in its noble quest to continuously improve the legal framework of the land “invites” the Mitsubishops to their “inquiry”, Bernas is certain that “no criminal liability” would be found.

But as Randy David points out, it is really on “moral authority” that the Church’s position in Philippine society rests upon. Just like the Duterte clan rules Davao City with a brand of governance that has very little if any grounding in the Law, the Church are able to lord it over Filipino “souls” on the basis of a perceived moral high ground that it monopolises. The Philippines, after all, is a society that lives by a very shaky ethical foundation — one that muddles together state, religious, and personal beliefs, dogma, and doctrine into a mishmash of inconsistent and unstable thinking and resulting action.

As such, a media circus is the last thing our holy bishops need considering that their power over the minds of the Filipino is quite ephemeral, as it is already finding out as it loses one battle after another for the hearts of its 100 million-strong congregation, first with the issue or Reproductive Health, then with the matter of divorce, and now in this most recent revelation of gross impropriety. After all, how much would Php 1 million spent on a luxury SUV have bought for the average Filipino? Most likely a lot more stuff more valuable than the presence of some bishop in some “far flung” village.

29 Replies to “Mitsubishops: the CBCP conveniently absolves its own and remains above the Law”

  1. i’m not sure what they are clearing their conscience for. if it is that asking for a pajero as a birthday gift is not a crime or is not god forbidden, then why are they preaching people to live in poverty??

  2. I’d rather ride in a used van than bask in a million-peso SUV if I’m a church minister. First of all it IS a violation of the non-affiliation code to meddle and/or support a particular church, and second, why ask for a Mitsubishi Challenger if you can do the same fieldwork with an el-cheapo/used vehicle?

    The church should focus on addressing issues like pedobears in their ranks and various other upheavals than just ignore it and live in some euphoric state.

  3. Bishops are in the business of selling morality, then how can they be effective salesmen if their own morality is in question?

    The religious conglomerate has a massive tax free account with BPI aside from stock options in mining and many more and yet some still compromise what they are selling for favors? I really don’t get it. If private groups can do outreach without a political benefactor so should the church. Such enables them to properly serve God without being beholden to anyone.

  4. Superb perspective on the Church and its current shenanigans.

    I think the Philippine Catholic Church has had a very bad year, making it perfectly clear to women that the Church has little regard for their troubles (anti- RH Bill, anti-Divorce Bill), living under the stigma that pedophile incidents cast worldwide, and now this very un-spiritual begging for cars or receiving of untoward “gifts”.

    This is an institution that is so rigid that it only misses the mortis.If I were the Philippine Catholic Church leaders, I would wonder seriously how long I can hold onto my flock in the internet era, which is just awakening in the Philippines.

    Myself, I bludgeon the old recalcitrants every opportunity I get for holding onto values that refuse to adjust to man’s ability to grow. God gave us the power to learn, to grow, to get deeper and intellectually and scientifically richer. And He evidently gave the Church no ability to learn, to grow, to get deeper and intellectually and scientifically richer. The Church is anchored in the 1500’s and still portrays much of human conflict as a war between God and Satan, which it is not. It is a battle within each of us to reach a higher calling, in a life peppered with God’s challenges, small and mighty.

  5. Matthew 10:7-8

    New International Version (NIV)

    7 As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ 8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy,[a] drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.

    Sorry to say that Bishop’s soul is already sold to the Devil for what they did is against the Bible no wonder why Rizal was executed for exposing of fallacies of the Catholic Church only fools would deny that fact.

  6. I for one cannot understand why these Catholic bishops even have to resort to asking for freebies from public funds. They already have hundreds of billions of pesos in San Miguel, PNB, and Philex Mining shares. Google up their stock ownership from the Phil Stock Exchange website and you’ll see how rich they already are, yet here they are still draining much needed funds from money earmarked for charity.

    PARASITES of the worst kind! And arrogant enough not to even be the least bit apologetic about it. Just reading about their little “our conscience is clear” speech made me throw up in my mouth.

  7. It is becoming a Media Circus, already…the Bishops have still the thinkings and mind-sets of the Bishops in the Dark Ages; who tortured people thru Inquisitions, and burned Heretics on the Stakes…
    Jesus Christ did not give any “blanket authority” on people, to : torure people; burn people on stakes; receive bribes; delude people; lie at will; etc…
    Jesus Christ taught his ways , thru his exemplary life; on how to live fully and help other people…this is the essense of his teachings…to bend his teachings to rationalize your moral bankruptcy is not only ridiculous; but abominable…

  8. As you have used these words: “Mitsubishops”, “This is a statement coming from the HENCHMEN of an institution…”

    Are you criticizing or vilifying the Church if not the clergies?

    “(T)he CBCP conveniently absolves its own and remains above the Law”

    What law have they violated? Well, according to you, it’s not actually they are above the law per se but citing Randy “The Infallible” David “moral authority”. (My apology for not reading anymore the link. For me, Randy David is just a plain leftist whiner. I would rather invest my time reading your blog).

    So it could be the “morality law” and not the law of man. Perhaps, I’m so dumb I’ve not interpreted it as a morality law. Very convenient and a master stroke he he he.

    We are not in a perfect world. I am also a critic of the Church clergies. You may find them in and my “favorite” one is Bishop Oscar Cruz.

    Eve succumbed to temptation and so with Judas. Church clergies are no exception. They will be tempted and some would succumb.

    There are more than 400,000 clergies around the world. If there would be a 1%, yes, just 1%, of them erring, that will be a 4,000 in numbers. Jesus has 12 apostles and one erred which is 1/12 = 8.3%. I’m not claiming it’s acceptable. My stand is, again, we are not in a perfect world.

    Everybody has the right criticize the Church as a whole which I think ok from my standpoint.

    But there are others who would pick a controversial issue against the clergy and make it as their fodder to continuously vilify the Church as a whole. Astonishingly, up to now, their favorite issue is the ad hominem Noli Me Tangre’s Father Damaso if there could not find any other handy issues around.

    I would cite again a quotation from my “favorite” Bishop Cruz:

    “While the present government represents the state, it is definitely not the state itself that is why while government came but some years ago and will surely be gone in due time, the state of the Philippines stays. The same is true for the incumbent CBCP that represents the church in the Philippines. Its members too come and go, but the church remains.”

    Why not just vilify what the Bible is teaching? Or just do an Eli Soriano of “Dating Daan”. Criticizing people that interpret the Bible other than his interpretation.

    Actually, I’m also uncomfortable with these current “Pajero” and Church interference with state affairs issues. Uncomfortable because there are lots of mischaracterizations being hurled around.

    Let us hear the Church’s opinions.

    On bishops interfering with the state’s affair, again, according to my “favorite” Bishop Oscar V. Cruz opinion:

    Filipinos who become priests and bishops are churchmen but they are certainly not lesser Filipinos. That is why their rights and obligations are the same as those appertaining to other ordinary Filipinos according to the Philippine Constitution they too are subject to the civil and criminal laws of the Philippines. They are furthermore bound by the ordinances of the place where they are. Also bound to observe traffic laws under the usual penalties if they violate any of them.

    They have the right to vote for the government officials they want to exercise governance over them. And theirs too is the right to speak and act in the event that they are convinced that a certain government official is either not duly elected or does not meet the ethical standards to govern. Only foreigners, churchmen or not, are not allowed to get directly involved in the internal affairs of the country.”

    On government’s donation according to Father Bernas:

    “In essence, these decisions prescribe a three-part test for determining constitutionality.

    First, does the grant of aid have a primary “secular legislative purpose”?

    Second, will the aid have principal effects which neither advance nor inhibit religion?

    Third, will the aid foster “an excessive government entanglement with religion.”

    How can we determine if the donation of Pajeros can pass these three-part tests?

    We can only determine these by looking at the terms of the donation. We can find these from the records of the PCSO. The records will show whether the donations were for a secular purpose and whether they limited the uses to those which do not have the principal effect of advancing or inhibiting religion, and whether the needed supervision, if any, could involve excessive government entanglement with religion.”

    My opinion:

    If they requested a donation, is it mandatory for the state to comply?

    Since time immemorial, various government agencies are donating through various religious groups for charitable purposes. Even foreign donations are coursed through the church.

    I can’t help but to think that why is it only now this donation to the Church becomes an issue.

    The durable 4 wheel drive power vehicle which we call 4 X 4 SUV is very effective as utility vehicle for rough roads and hilly ranges that are not normally inaccessible to regular vehicles. We call it “PAJERO” or by their other brand names if it will be used for one’s EGO-LIFTING or for STATUS SYMBOL.

    This 4 X 4 SUV was the one that requested by Bishop Juan de Dios Pueblos from then President Arroyo. As his reason in his letter of request “for use to reach the far-flung areas of Caraga” and as his detractors are insisting ” the PAJERO is for his personal use”. (Short of them saying ” si Bishop naman, at your age, pajaforms ka pa rin”. That’s the one they want to subtly infer.)

    As for PCSO’s appropriateness of the donation to the Church, according to lawyer Aleta Tolentino, the incumbent PCSO director, she noted that “if someone said he was requesting a vehicle so he could go to the poor, the poor in this case were just incidental. If someone said, ‘provide us with medicine,’ that’s a different story. That’s OK because the Church in this case is just incidental. The main purpose here is to give the medicine to the poor,”

    Jeez…This woman does not know what she was saying…stupidity at its best.

    1. With great power comes great responsibility as the old cliche goes. And with much moralising comes greater scrutiny. The Church cannot go around preaching and taking the “moral high ground” and not expect to be taken to task. Perhaps “vilify” is a fair word that you use to describe my words. So be it then. I vilify the Church because they make it EASY for people like me to do so. But I make use of ethical frameworks that are subject to free inquiry and public review. Compare that to the Church who use a dogmatic framework of their own making (and one not subject to critical evaluation) as basis for demonising those who go up against their interests.

  9. As you have said “So be it then. I vilify the Church because they make it EASY for people like me to do so. But I make use of ethical frameworks that are subject to free inquiry and public review.”

    Vilify and ethical. Duh???

    Vilify is defined as “to make vicious and defamatory statement about. Synonym of malign.

    Ethics is defined as the rule or standards governing the conduct of a person or the members of a profession.

    I’m lost to what really you are or where really you are on this issue – morality.

    “The end justify the means” at its best heh.

    1. You feel lost because you’d rather spend your time moralising instead of applying a critical mind to making a logical evaluation of the issue. That is why the Church has lost its way as well — because it applied a morality lens to the world rather than a logical one.

  10. “You feel lost because you’d rather spend your time moralising instead of applying a critical mind to making a logical evaluation of the issue”

    Isn’t it the issue started in constitutionality of the their act?

    You’re the one that is moralising. You can’t pin the issue on legalizing so it will be on moralising. This MO seems to be familiar with me.

    Jeez… I know you can do better than that.

    Man, read both your post and my comments again.

    1. Nah, I can’t “do better than that” because I don’t, contrary to what you assert, moralise. I merely highlight the dots and connect them. Dot number one: CBCP clears its own conscience. Dot number two: Roman Catholic Church is its own confessor. Dot number three: RCC is “pro-democracy”. Dot number four: RCC in practice is an absolute monarchy.

      Connect the above dots and you get the above article.

    2. ” Dot number one: CBCP clears its own conscience. ”

      hmm… u say this like its nefarious.

      tell me, who can clear a persons/groups’ conscience, other than himself or themselves?

  11. “Dot number one: CBCP clears its own concsience.”

    Yes, though I didn’t mention it in my comment, the CBCP has already apologized to the public for what the issue had caused.

    “Dot number two: Roman Catholic Church is its own confessor.”

    I can refer this back to your dot number 1. I might misinterpret you on this one, but then, who do you think will be their confessor? As if you’re telling your readers that they admit their mistakes to themselves only. I can easily disprove this.

    “Dot number three: RCC is “pro-democracy”.”

    Yes they are. However, I can’t get what you want to prove by that statement.

    “Dot number four: RCC in practice is an absolute monarchy.”

    Just for the sake of argument, if you’re referring to CBCP, they can be law breakers but they can’t be an absolute monarchy. They are not the state.

    If you’re referring to Vatican, it’s form of government is an absolute elective monarchy, in which the Roman Catholic Church is the head the state.

    Bottom line – what dots to connect?

    BTW, I would take it to be true in the Roman Catholic Church specifically the CBCP issue, that your position is the sin of one becomes the sin of all.

    1. If as you say, you can “easily disprove” my Dot Number Two then do so please.

      With regard to the “absolute monarchy” assertion, I wasn’t referring to the Vatican. I was referring to how the Church conducts itself in practice. It is a religious organisation and therefore conveniently resorts to a comfry deus ex machina cushion to resolve its conundrums and respond to challenges to its cherished dogma.

      So it can be excused for being “pre-democracy” while at the same time be totalitarian in its style of internal governance on the back of a principle (of its own creation) that there is, supposedly, no authority higher than “God.”

      It’s the perfect scam. And because people who are subject to this scam are gripped by the fear of eternal damnation (again, a notion pulled out of a hat by the Church), they enjoy perfect power.

      1. again, you are saying things that are obvious but common to all organizations.

        all organizations are run by a hierarchy. all firms are run by a board. none of which is democratic in any sense.

      2. Before I go on with my disproving something, let us first finish an open issue so that I would have a direction where to put my stand.

        My stand is we‘re not in a perfect world on the issue hurled against the Bishops since this is what you have in your post. Short of saying that nobody is infallible.

        Bishops are just like other normal persons who will also succumb to temptation. For me, for a paltry few erring Bishops does not mean one has to vilify or mock the Church as a whole. That is my stand.

        I’m not here to argue that the Church is just like the global warming – a scam. I’ll put my stand later on that issue which you have just brought up.

        Your argument is the sin of one becomes the sin of all. Let’s clear this one first.

        If you’re argument is that one, do you think it is still worthwhile to put up my stand on your Mitsubishop issue?

        I’ll just say you’re unhinged and we can go on to another worthwhile issue.

        1. Apparently the CBCP does think that the sin of one of its members is the sin of all, otherwise it wouldn’t have stepped in to apologise on behalf of the Mitsubishops, would they?

          But hey, I’ll take you up on your offer to move on to the next “worthwhile issue” which I had already done: examine in closer detail the wording used in this much-hyped “apology”. Check it out here. 😉

  12. the hypocrisy of the church both reflects and influences the hypocrisy of the country, reinforced by the money grabbing, intellectually devoid, western envious politicians.
    no pride, no principles, no passion and obviously no god – unless he was having a joke and put all the criminals and losers in the philippines as an example of the 7 deadly sins

  13. I won’t mind being called a Catholic fanatic if for others it would look that way. I also have criticized the Catholic clergies including nuns for things that seems to be uncatholic.

    “Those in the church particularly the nuns. Just because they don’t like the present administration, they will offer their protection to Jun Lozada, a confessed corrupt, just to show that they have the self-righteousness. They thought that it would be a repeat of EDSA I or EDSA II. Duh! (Hindi sumali ang APO at si Ka Freddie! He he he he…)

    Or maybe even Bishop Bacani (or Bishop Cruz). The most vocal critics of the present administration from the church for the sake of self-righteousness. (I would not leave my young boy or my young girl a minute alone with these persons. Ayoko ng hilatsa nila.).

    And Bacani’s idol president is Erap.”

  14. That was one hellish debate in the comments section.
    Trosp’s point: Not everyone there is bad/perfect
    Benigno’s point: Some of their priests are corrupt. They are a shameful organization.

    I have to agree with Benigno. The CBCP isnt only just “some” organization, it is the largest religious organization in the Philippines. Not only are their(the corrupt priests) names are involved but also the congregation to which they are associated and a Catholic one no less. It is by the name of CBCP that they can assure that every member within their organization is trustworthy and God-fearing.

    You yourself stated “The end justifies the means”, why didn’t they use those donations for charity. If they needed transportation, there are less costly ways. Did they not think this through, or are they working against their own goals? That’s the DUH there.

    (On a lighter note, they were dealing with GMA, the little demonita. No good could possibly come out of that :P)

    ‘People only see what they are prepared to see.’ <3 Trosp

  15. This just makes me more convinced that the reason why more and more Christians, specially younger ones, are disillusioned by Christianity is not because a lack of faith in God but on its leaders. What do bishops and priests have against public transportation? Millions and millions of people use them everyday. Maranasan naman nila yung hirap, yung traffic, yung siksikan, yung tayuan. Why, are their destination more important than those of a common man’s just because they wear a stole? What do they have to fear? Dirt? Sweat? The poor? The ordinary people? Well, when they do step in a dusty, dirty ordinary bus where they have to stand with the rest of the poor people who can’t afford airconditioned bus fare, I say: welcome to reality. And yes, it bites.

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