With the socio-political horizon in the country getting too bad and too hurting, the Church is again dipping its fingers into politics, as she always did in times of political crises. But almost instantaneously, she would be accused of meddling in politics by those who think that the Church should rather exclusively confine herself to the affairs of the sacristy.
For Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita to say that the church should “not sink too much into politicking because we respect them and we hope that they understand that we need the separation of Church and State,” is, of course, a political spin in much the same breath as when administration congressmen routinely admonish that the Church should concentrate on spiritual matters and leave the political to politicians. Such maneuverings should be dismissed as fast as one would a political propaganda. Besides, why leave a serious matter as the future of our children to the exclusive of domain of politicians?
But how would you make out of simple people, parishioners or BEC members maybe, mouthing the same accusations over the radio or at letters to the editors and emails? To mention some of the comments: “please attend to your erring priests instead of politics,” “stop politicking!” “The church should concentrate on spiritual matters, not on the political,” “instead of preaching the Gospel, you choose to preach politics,” “many are leaving the Catholic church because priests are now politicians,” “wala ng ginawa ang simbahan maliban sa pamumulitika,”
—and many more.
It looks like lay people are not really familiar with the social teachings of the church—presuming, of course, that the aforementioned comments did not come from people listed in the payroll of political benefactors. While it is a catechetical challenge, it is also a ready barometer of the present ecclesiological framework that the church projects to people, knowingly or unknowingly.
The church has great social encyclicals to back up the validity of its involvement in the sociological sphere. And there is Gaudium et Spes and the universal catechism to boot, without even mentioning the PCP II and the CBCP Pastoral Exhortation on Politics. And now, there is the Compendium of the Social Doctrines of the Church that continues to expound and update the rich patrimony of Catholic social doctrine.
There may be no mistaking that this prevalent ecclesiological perception came out of people’s observation that the regular job of their priests are saying masses and doing other stipend-generating religious preoccupations. Priests who would devote most of their time to social reforms and other advocacies as the environment are very few and are sadly marked as activists.
But don’t you think Christ would be doing the same if he were here today? Or would he join the mainstream pastoral of merely presiding sacramental celebrations, building rectories and organizing elaborate santacruzan?