Friday, January 27, 2006

A Cry for Justice: An Open Letter to the CBCP

Can. 225.2 They [lay people] have also, according to the condition of each, the special obligation to permeate and perfect the temporal order of things with the spirit of the Gospel. In this way, particularly in conducting secular business and exercising secular functions, they too give witness to Christ.

Can. 678.1 In matters concerning the care of souls, the public exercise of divine worship and other works of the apostolate, religious are subject to the authority of the Bishops, whom they are bound to treat with sincere obedience and reverence.

Can.747.2 The Church has the right always and everywhere to proclaim moral principles, even in respect of the social order, and to make judgments about any human matter in so far as this is required by fundamental human rights or the salvation of souls.

The Code of Canon Law
Promulgated in 1983

Your Eminence and Excellencies:

St. Thomas Aquinas taught that the function of a moral agent is to do three things: to search for the means suitable in any particular case, to accomplish any particular moral virtue; to judge, in a sound manner, the appropriateness of the outlined path; and, finally, to authorize and encourage the path to be pursued. You did all three: you consulted each other as well as individuals whose counsel you respected; and having decided the case of the President was one primarily of trust, you cast about for the means to determine why that trust was lost; and furthermore, what the country as a whole should do about it.

Therefore the CBCP through its last collective statement, offered to secular society a guide to invoking spiritual principles to accomplish the reconciliation of contending sides, by means that exalt accountability. However: of the means proposed, all have resulted in a perfunctory gesture of interest on the part of the President, and the one means that moved forward the most –impeachment- was entangled in a web of procedures by her allies, and further ensnared in the calculated, amoral dispensation of patronage by the President that killed any possible hope (and semblance) of determining the ultimate facts.

Since you last met, the President has evaded every means to demonstrate her willingness to submit herself to the people. She has, furthermore, used every instrument at her disposal to prevent any semblance of an investigation or an accounting. She has enunciated and enforced a policy of thwarting the freedom to peaceably assemble, by calling for a “pre-emptive, calibrated response” to public assembly. She has gone further than was ever Constitutionally-envisioned, in raising the Executive Department over all other, co-equal departments of our government and blurred the lines that serve as a brake on Executive domination of the armed forces, through her Executive Order No. 464, which at a most basic level, places penalties on public officials who might be inclined to make themselves accountable to the public or follow the dictates of their conscience.

Public opinion has been clearly expressed in support of a fundamental principle of good governance and Christian living in the secular realm: that officials are servants of the people, are answerable to the people, and must take it upon themselves to always be transparent and accountable for their actions. Filipinos from all walks of life and faith have clearly spoken out, not for or against specific political personalities, not for or against certain political factions or interests, but rather, on the burning question of the day: can a President, facing serious and grievous questions concerning not only her mandate, but the manner in which she has exercised her powers, simply brush aside the clamor for answers?

We believe that never, for a moment, did you, the CBCP, believe that life can go on, as if these questions and issues were never raised. We are certain that you hoped and prayed for the President to be able to discern the need to humbly entrust herself to the sovereign people; and for the institutions of government and the faithful to find means to satisfy the need for justice.

But justice has been delayed, and thus, denied. The arsenal of powers –and the arrogation of authority never given the President, but which she claims and wields anyway- available to the President has been utilized to silence dissent, and thwart the process of investigation and questioning. Every institution, from the bureaucracy, to our legislature, the courts, and society at large, has been sublimated to the President’s paramount obsession to remain in power at all costs. Even if the costs include disaffection within the armed forces, demoralization within the bureaucracy, and the intimidation of civil society, the political order, and the public at large.

Jesus Christ (John 21: 15-17) asked Saint Peter thrice, “Do you love me?” And he answered “yes” every time. Jesus instructed Peter to “feed my lambs” and “feed my sheep” each time that Saint Peter replied he loved Christ. As priests and bishops, you bear the staff of office recognizing that you must protect the flock, and yet not leave it vulnerable to the wolves. But now the wolves are amidst the sheep, claiming the shepherds have given them their blessings. Where, we ask you, is the justice in that? The public simply cries out for their grievances to be redressed. Instead, they have had their consciences bound by executive issuances, their liberties curtailed by the same, and their cries for accountability stifled. And all the while, the President has announced a New Order to be born, without consulting the people, and without offering up a genuine means to transform an avaricious political system. What temporal order is this, in which the humbleness, compassion, mercy and justice of Christ is so absent from those supposed to be the servants of the people?

We pray that you will recognize the need for the entire community of the faithful to come together on the basis of Christian principles that bear witness, instead of turning a blind eye to official wrongdoing.

Respectfully yours,

The Black & White Movement

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