MORE than half of the pastoral letters and statements of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, since its foundation in 1945, focuses on political issues—highlighting it with the issuance of a full-length pastoral exhortation on politics in 1997, and the Catechism on Church and Politics the following year.
The Second Plenary Council of the Philippines (PCP-II) in 1991 has devoted a good amount of discussion on the role of the Church in politics in its final document. In 2001, during the National Pastoral Consultation on Church Renewal (NPCCR), the Church identified nine pastoral priorities—and the second of which is the empowerment of the laity towards social transformation emphasizing as it did that the laity “must be empowered to engage in greater dialogue and discernment with the clergy and the religious concerning social, economic, political, and cultural issues, in order to take the leading role in the transformation of society.”
But the way things are moving today, it looks like the integral faith formation that everyone should have been working on did not seem to have trickled to anybody except perhaps in the circle of the clergy and the religious—if at all. A good barometer of this is what we read over columns and editorials in national dailies, not to mention the polarity of reactions from the general public on the intervention of some church people at the unfolding drama of the alleged multi-tiered mega-corruption lodged against government leadership.
There are pockets of church people (those that you easily see around the itinerary of Jun Lozada) who are clamoring for the truth, justice and accountability in the face of ZTE-National Broadband scam. But even this is being dismantled as a work of the opposition to oust the incumbency.
Equipped with fidelity to the PCP-II call for social transformation, the CBCP President has been exhorting for communal action and a new brand of people power. This, too, is seemingly not getting through—sadly, even among peers.
Not unlike the myth of Sisyphus, the formidable barrier may look like the complex web of political machinations by those in power and the way politics is practiced in the country which according to CBCP is “possibly the biggest bane in our life as a nation and the most pernicious obstacle to our achieving of full human development.” But, come to think of it, at the end of the day it all boils down to the sluggish implementation of the church of a most basic pastoral program of integral faith formation.