Monday, February 6, 2012

Finding the common ground for the common good

It appears the bishops' conference could be a template in finding the common ground for the common good. "Filipino bishops seek to stay clear of impeachment trial," says the National Catholic Reporter, 25th Jan 2012. Their common ground: "All of us [bishops] still believe in the separation of the church and state, and that means all the bishops respect the right of the state to run the country in regards to temporal matters."

Yet individually the bishops retain their strong feelings. The bottom line: the bishops are demonstrating maturity! There are those "who are sympathetic to the Chief Justice, and believe that the Hacienda Luisita decision is the why of the impeachment trial. While others maintain that it is part of a larger effort to probe allegations of corruption and anomalies of public officials and to hold accountable those responsible." Thus the bishops are pulling out the big guns in the name of evangelization, and that is, for the dioceses to activate the BECs - Basic Ecclesial Communities.

BECs are small groups of Christian neighbors who regularly gather for Bible sharing and the Eucharist. The grassroots communities, which are united with pastors but ministered to by lay leaders, share a sense of responsibility for one another and integrate liturgy with reflection and action on socioeconomic concerns of the community, said Fr. Amado Picardal (Executive Secretary of the CBCP Committee on BEC).

"We have a split-level Christianity," he said, citing anonymous government workers who are "very religious, like Arroyo and Corona," but who have confessed to him about accepting bribes and kickbacks and their participation in other anomalies . . . A lot of corruption happens in the local level, and BECs can and have been able to stop these by monitoring the use of [community] and provincial government funds and money for road and other construction projects," Picardal said. [Said another: "We see people going to church, but the vital question is, How much does their faith influence their important decisions in life? Are God and his commandments still important to them?"] In 1987, a BEC he worked with in San Fernando, Bukidnon, fought to stop illegal logging that was causing flooding and droughts in the southern Philippines town.”

If Juan de la Cruz could only follow the footsteps of the bishops – and seek the common ground – we can once and for all address the fundamental failings that have stunted our development all these years: power supply, basic infrastructure and strategic industries.

The power supply issue is complicated no doubt given the new challenges as well as opportunities presented by renewable energy. Mining as a strategic industry is mired in controversy. And in basic infrastructure, to name just one, given this is the 21st century, we can’t remain wedded to the infamy of our international airport – which is being complicated by the opportunity presented by Clark but with the attendant imperative and challenge for a rail system between Manila and Clark.

We must turn things around and cease tolerating inaction – being victims of conflicting ideas and beliefs. We can't mirror the failure of our judicial system, for example, that has turned its back on something very fundamental: justice delayed is justice denied – as suffered by the coco farmers, for instance. Put another way, we can't remain indifferent to the pursuit of economic development – yet claim we are concerned with poverty. That is synonymous to what the good pastor says about our split-level Christianity!

The bishops have set an example – we can likewise subordinate our own held beliefs and seek the common ground for the common good! "Even if Corona is found guilty and is ousted, it doesn't mean corruption will end if people, the culture and bureaucracy will not reform," Picardal said.

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