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With a Simple and Humble New Pope, What Should Happen to the Philippine Catholic Hierarchy?

Celebrating his first mass as Pontiff a day after being elected, 76-year-old Pope Francis told the Pope Francisassembled cardinals to guard against “the worldliness of the Devil.” Here was a man who made it an annual practice to celebrate Holy Thursday by washing the feet of the poor, and the downtrodden of his native Argentina. Here too was a man who took the bus to and from his work despite having chauffeured vehicles available to him. He preferred living in a modest apartment, cooking his own meals despite access to the well staffed bishop’s mansion in the ritzy the suburb of Olivos where no less than the Argentine president has his summer residence. He chose the name Francis in honor of Saint Francis of Assisi who though born into wealth, chose a life of poverty to live with the helpless and downtrodden.

Compare that to the past and present Philippine Catholic Church Hierarchy that live in palaces and mansions scattered throughout the archipelago. They live a life of opulence behind guarded high walls far removed from the poverty and squalor found in Philippine cities. These are prelates who consider themselves as part of the ruling gentry. They hobnob with the rich and powerful at parties and cocktails; they fly first-class when vacationing to the Americas or Europe; they wrap themselves in the trappings of power and aristocracy, just as their Spanish predecessors did going back centuries.

So when Pope Francis tells his cardinals to guard against “the worldliness of the Devil,” What exactly are the Philippine bishops and archbishops to make of that statement? In our opinion, they (beginning with the CBCP—the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines) should start following his lead. It is about time these haughty church leaders got down on their knees and washed the feet of ordinary Filipinos. They can then start moving out of their palaces and mansions and into apartments on the poor side of town…and take a tricycle or jeepney to and from that never-ending conference of theirs—instead of asking for free SUVs (sports utility vehicles) paid for by the cash-strapped taxpayers of the Philippines.

Should the Philippine bishops find it impossible to follow Pope Francis’ lead, they still have another option left open to them. They can follow Pope Benedict XVI’s lead and resign. Either way, the Philippine Catholic Church will most likely be better off for it. Published 3/25/2013


RECENT EDITORIALS

Should President Aquino Get a Second Term as President?

Many Filipinos today are realizing that the single, six-year presidential term as prescribed in the 1987 Constitution is woefully inadequate for a good president like Benigno S. Aquino III. The delegates who wrote that provision in the Constitution must have still been reeling from the almost 20 years of “kleptocratic” rule of strongman Ferdinand Marcos when they decided that one term was enough for any future Philippine president. Four years—the presidential term at the time—would be too short; eight too long. Published 08/23/2014


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The passage of time has a way of distilling reality and bringing out truths that are sometimes hidden or lost by present circumstances. Case in point is the overwhelming level of admiration many Filipinos have for former President Corazon Aquino. When she passed away in 2009, the entire nation seemed beside itself in grief. Her casket was mobbed by thousands of mourners as it slowly made its way through the streets of Metro Manila to its final resting place at the Manila Memorial Park in Parañaque. Published 08/02/2014
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Though his popularity rating has taken some hits lately, Vice President Jejomar Binay is still far and away the strongest contender for the Philippine presidency in 2016. But is he the right choice for the country? His legions of supporters will give you an enthusiastic "yes;" his detractors however, will tell you "no!" So who's right? To answer our question, lets look instead at Binay's deeds rather than the words of his supporters or detractors. Published 07/25/2014
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Napoles PDAF/NGO Scandal: What is Ten or Fifteen Billion Pesos Really Worth?

For those who have been following the Janet Lim-Napoles PDAF/NGO* scandal these past months, it is easy to get caught up in all the rhetoric—the words and phrases repeated day after day. Words like "ten billion" or "fifteen billion" have turned into something akin to "gray" background noise.  Words devoid of any real meaning or significance. So let us try to put back some meaning into those trite and often-repeated phrases in order to better understand some of the far-reaching ramifications of Napoles' actions. Published 06/30/2014


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