“(October 11) marked the 50th anniversary of Vatican II’s opening”, Inquirer’s Michael Tan noted. We are a predominantly Catholic country. “ I’m surprised how little has been said in media about this when the Church is going through such ferment”.
A country fragmented into 7,012 islands at high tide moulds an insular mindset, some assert. Vision halt at the seashore or expand to
a country or two. From there, Overseas Filipino Workers send padalas or remittances home. But are we blinded by narrow clans ?
“For all the trappings of national government…we conduct our affairs pretty much in the manner of Lapu-Lapu,” the late historian Horacio de la Costa wrote. “(The) congressman, who, who moves around with bodyguards, is not much different from the datu surrounded by retainers. This attitude “casts away national and pubic values,” the Jesuit scholar added. “(It) aggravates the need for taking private measures to protect private interests.”
A Synod of 262 bishops is now reviewing the “cargo of hope” and letdowns of Vatican II ( 1962-1965 ). Among Synod fathers are Luis Tagle of Manila and Jose Palma of Cebu .
Vatican II recast a faith claimed by a billion people worldwide. (Eight out of 10 Filipinos are Catholics). It broadened the role of laymen, stripped obsolete trappings and adopted liturgy into vernacular. The church turned away from internal concerns of Vatican I. Instead, it reached out to other faiths, from Jews to Muslims, But Vatican II hopes shriveled as a Curia of bureaucrats dragged heels.
“Institutional innovations, like diocesan pastoral councils, were haphazardly implemented and underutilized. The Synod of Bishops was stillborn. National bishops’ conferences were subordinated to curial approval. “They never led to regular channels of communication between people and hierarchy”, notes America magazine.
Transparency and accountability, whether for financial or sexual improprieties, are norms of a just society. “The church must cease to claim exemptions for itself …and must not stand outside scrutiny of its members.
Many Filipinos view all these through prism of family. Today’s Synod of “New Evangelization” overlaps with the October 21 canonization for a 17 year old Filipino catechist and six others. Like Lorenzo Ruiz of Binondo before him, Pedro Calungsod of the Visayas is “bone of our bone, flesh of our flesh.” We’ll see a fiesta to eclipse other fiestas.
“Reform the church?”, asked Archbishop Angelo Roncalli. “Is such a thing possible?” This son of Italian sharecroppers was elected as a transition pope. Jolting a sclerotic church to it’s founding fervor would have to wait.
As John XXIII, Roncalli, however, stunned many by calling out: Apertura a sinistra. “Open the windows” and let fresh air in. Few foresaw the gales of reform that Council would unleash. When it closed three years later, a transformed institution emerged: one that re-imaged the church as “People of God, will full participation of all the baptized, yet always in need of reform. Council advisor Father Joseph Ratzinger defined it as perennis reformatio . He repeated the theme, as Benedict XVI.
Vatican II reached out to other faiths, from Jews to Muslims and built bridges to a world hurtling into a digital age. It asserted it’s “prophetic role”, smudged by cozy accommodation with assorted dictators.
“I have bishops by their balls,” Ferdinand Marcios scoffed when Pope John Paul II set a visit was for January 1981. Marcos announced cosmetic lifting of martial law. Imelda decked out the Coconut Place. But for the pontiff politely declined. Instead, he lodged at the sparse nunciature in Pasay.
“Even in exceptional conditions the state can not claim to serve the common good when human rights are not safeguarded”, John Paul II told a poker-faced Ferdinand Marcos in his January 17, 1981 speech at Malacanang Palace.
On this same visit, John Paul beatified Lorenzo Ruiz at Luneta. And in Bacolod, he pressed for an end to exploitation of sacadas. “This is war,” fumed a Negros sugar planter.
After February 1986’s rigged elections, Marcos declared he won over Corazon Aquino. “A government that assumes or retains power by fraudulent means has no moral basis”, the Catholic Bishops Conference said in a pastoral letter. It called for active resistance of evil by peaceful means.” People Power sent the dictator into exile.
Worldwide, there has been an exponential growth in educated Catholics. Priest-theologians are a minority. In the years ahead, pastoring will, to a great extent, consist in fostering fuller participation of this educated laity.
Controversies here mirror the Curia’s resistance. An eminent canon lawyer, the bishop of Tagbilaran, said over Radio Veritas. Those who support the Reproductive Health bill ( HB4244 ) court ex-communication. That’d cast President Benigno Aquino into exterior darkness. That goes for UP demographer Mercedes Concepcion — one of 42 scientists Pope Paul VI asked to serve in the Humanae Vitae panel.
The Second Plenary Council here taught that religious freedom to advocate a cause may not be used to deny that same freedom to those who disagree, constitutionalist Joaquin Bernas recalled. The Bishop of Antipolo turned livid.
“The legacy of Vatican II remains in dispute”, America magazine adds. “Demands of our own age call for corrections of deviations. We move in contested terrain.”