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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

With Negotiators Like These on Our Team, Who Needs an Opposing Side?

What on earth happened to these two women—supposedly  handpicked by the president himself to argue on behalf of the Philippine government in peace negotiations with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front—who now seem to be mouthpieces for the Moros? Have Secretary Teresita Deles, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process and Professor Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, chair of the negotiating panel become mesmerized by the tough "macho" image the rebels project? Published 2/27/2015


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No More Bangsamoro, Period!

With each passing day, it is becoming increasingly clear that the idea of a Bangsamoro is a bad idea. Just as the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) spearheaded by former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was a bad idea (and declared unconstitutional in 2008 by the Supreme Court). Just as the failed Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) during the 1990s was a bad idea. Published 2/8/2015
After the Mamasapano Massacre, Plans for a Bangsamoro Must Be Scrapped

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President Aquino Should Fly to Saudi Arabia and Pay His Last Respects to King Abdullah

Presidents and prime ministers, kings and queens; from Prince Charles and Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain, President Francois Hollande of France, President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi of Egypt, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey and many other heads of state from all corners of the globe have gone or are headed to Riyadh to pay their respects to the late King Abdullah. Even U.S. President Barack Obama cut short his state visit to India to fly to Saudi Arabia. Published 1/27/2015
After the Pope's Visit: What We Filipinos Now Must Do

We put on a good show for Pope Francis. He loved it; we loved it; the world loved it. Now the long and painful task of bringing about the changes the pope asked for begins. Start with the Philippine Catholic Church. It should refocus its efforts towards the poor. As we wrote in previous editorials, many priests and bishops see themselves as members of the rich and privileged class. They feel more at home in country clubs and dining in expensive restaurants, than they do helping the poor who live in the squatter communities that dot most cities in the Philippines. Published 1/22/2015
Pope Francis Admonishes Pinoys to End Scandalous Inequalities

We had a feeling this was coming. In his first major speech in the Philippines, Pope Francis called for an end to 'scandalous inequalities' in the country. And what better example of a scandalous inequality is there than that a preposterously ridiculous wedding of Dingdong Dantes and Marian Rivera which was officiated by 8 bishops and 7 priests. In addition, this crass wedding featured a 12-foot high wedding cake, a 2-million-peso wedding gown with an exaggeratedly long train that seemed to go on forever...you get the picture. Published 1/16/2015

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