Minority Feels aka In Defense of the President
The way we received Pope Francis already surpassed every red carpet protocol we have given a visiting Head of State and that’s fine, he is the spiritual leader of a great majority of the country’s population. That much of this country has gone crazy over his visit is already painfully obvious.
Yet no one is publicly talking about the issues that plague this nation that are directly related to its relationship with the Church. So something that would throw a pebble in the alternate stream is meaningful and refreshing.
No one is contesting the truth about the President’s statements, much of the flak revolves around how inappropriate, and embarrassing it is to say critical things about the Church in front of the Pope and how self-serving because of the references to what the Aquinos went through during Marcos’ time.
But no one is contesting that everything PNoy said in the speech is true.
This Pope, is very political. His agenda on eradicating poverty, ridding the Church of corruption from within and extolling the virtues of simplicity for other priests to emulate make it wholly appropriate to inform him that here, where your last Asian bastion stands, your church benefitted from a corrupt government and used the pulpit to not just influence public policy but to ridicule government leadership when it dared go against its wishes.
Why should we be embarrassed? Should we simply ignore the reality that the Philippines and the Church do not have a smooth relationship? Why not recognize that? Why not remind all parties present of that?
“I believe that you are a kindred spirit, one who sees things as they are, and is unafraid of asking, “Why not?” Some of your statements might have been shocking or offensive to some peers. But Your Holiness is meant to be the instrument through which the Kingdom of God is allowed to flourish. In your example, we see the wisdom of continuing to ask, “Why not?” “
– Excerpt from the Ptesident’s speech to Pope Francis in Malacanang
I’m not usually a PNoy fan and his elocution skills need a ton of work but the speech he gave was not disappointing, it was relevant. It meant something to me, who may be in the minority but still a citizen, to see my government’s often missing spine. That someone, and fittingly the leader of this country, is not awed into mindlessness by the power of the institution he is in front of. It was appropriately delivered in Malacanang, a house of governance, not worship. PNoy spoke as one Head of State to another, whose representatives enjoy immense power in MY country sufficient to affect MY life even if I don’t care for it.
Without being explicit, it in fact gracefully and rightly puts into context the political power the Church holds in the Philippines. As for the self-promotion part, he can’t help the fact that he’s the son of Ninoy and Cory. That is the only reason he is in office. He can’t help the fact that his family WAS at the center of the regime’s downfall and it would be stupid to skip around it to appear “properly humble and unpolitical” because he also can’t help the fact that the Church WAS instrumental in the events that led to People Power. It is a legitimate event from which to make a point, that the Church- governed by the other Head of State in the room- has been both a spiritual AND political presence in the country, for better or for worse.
Here, where separation of Church and State is still just ink on paper, where the CBCP uses excommunication as a political sword to hold lawmakers hostage, where it is normal for politicians to quote scripture when explaining their position on a bill, I felt good that PNoy showed some teeth and spoke for all, including the minority who do NOT look upon the Vatican for moral guidance.
The fact is, in a time when much of the world is evolving to embrace the idea that you can’t discriminate because of gender, race and sexual orientation, the Catholic church remains unmoving in its position that same sex couples do not make a family and that women should not have access to artificial contraception or that marriage is a union only IT can dissolve. Here I say nay to a Church clinging to its last stronghold in this region, and here I say nay to his flock already gone into overdriven stupor and here I say yay to the President for remembering that the nays are just as important as the yays.