Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Response to "Are you a Catholic Writer?"

Dear Mr. John Neri,

I appreciated your insightful piece in your July 15, 2008 Inquirer column entitled "Are you a Catholic writer?".

Thus, allow me to react with a few comments.

You said: "On certain issues, I think the Church hierarchy in the Philippines has gotten it wrong."

"There is nothing controvertible, for instance, in the crisis of legitimacy that surrounds the President, like a pall of permanent exhaust."

The CBCP's position not to call for the resignation of PGMA amidst significant clamor is not an infallible position. We can thus call the bishop's position itself controvertible, because the bishops are merely stating an opinion (wise and prudent in my personal judgement as it were)
in a political matter best left for the secular system to address. It is understandable to say likewise that those who hold contrary positions (including you, I suppose) are merely stating their own opinions on the matter.

"The bishops’ position on population growth and the marital responsibility of Catholic couples continues to be based, mistakenly, on what the great theologian Bernard Haring characterized, with deliberate irony, as the absolute sacredness of the biological.".

On this matter, the bishops are not expressing an opinion, they simply faithfully echo the consistent and unchanging teaching of the Church Magisterium. The Church's position on contraceptives and the sanctity of marriage is universal, as exemplified by the encyclicals Humanae Vitae and Familiaris Consortio. They don't have a choice, otherwise it would constitute a heretical position that would sever their communion with Rome. On this matter they couldn't care less what the "great theologian" Bernard Haring (who's he?) has to say.

"But on other issues, I think the bishops called it right. On the conflict tearing the Couples for Christ movement apart, for instance, the hierarchy has sought to honor the original charism of the movement. That is only as it should be."

Again, certain bishops expressing their fallible position, and it does not necessarily constitute a universally accepted, official Church position. In fact your column admits that not all of them carry the opinion that the "original charism" should be honored. Vatican II states that the test of charism's "genuineness and proper use belongs to those who are appointed leaders in the Church, to whose special competence it belongs" (#12, Lumen Gentium). In the case of CFC as an international association of the faithful, the proper Church authority that tests its proper use of charisms is the Vatican through the Pontifical Council of the Laity (PCL). CFC has a standing recognition by the Vatican PCL. The mere fact that Vatican has retained that recognition to date despite the fact that it well aware of the controversy, is enough proof that CFC exercises genuine and proper use of charisms. Thus it is immaterial to talk about a need for honoring an "original charism", whatever that means.

In closing, I think you are on track to think that the Church and Catholic culture are eminently political, I suppose to the direction that any political activity concerning the common good must of necessity be the Church's concern. Lastly, I dare venture my personal interpretation what a "Catholic thinker" means. It is a philosophical disposition grounded on Faith and Reason, which are not only compatible but essential together, as Pope John Paul II so lucidly expounds in
in his encyclical Fides et Ratio.

Sincerely yours, more power, and God bless,


P.S. I don't consider myself an astute "Catholic thinker" either, and not any much smarter than your average person, definitely much less than your recent reader who has two degrees in Physics. I am just a stumbling yet persevering Catholic who holds fast to the deposit of faith.

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