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Bullies in Cassocks

Bullies in Cassocks

Ronald Roy

A Schism is: one, a split or division between strongly opposed sections or parties, caused by differences in opinion or belief; two, the formal separation of a Church into two Churches—as in the case of the Great Schism between the Eastern and Western Churches (1054-1472); or three, a secession of a group of the laity owing to doctrinal and other differences with their Church. In light of the brewing contraceptives controversy between the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) and non-ecclesiastics, it is suggested that focus be laid on definition three.

Ecclesiastics and laymen are currently embroiled in the throes of a schism. Many among the faithful are prepared to bolt the Catholic Church in protest to the bullying tactics of the CBCP, with many minor Christian Churches, sects and born-again ministries awaiting recruits to beef up their ranks. It can only be hoped that the only Catholic Asian country will not follow the path of the Great Schism or Martin Luther, the German theologian who was excommunicated in 1521 for attacking papal authority and simony (the sale of indulgences).

What are the CBCP’s bullying tactics? They are: one, intimidating the government with threats of civil disobedience; two, undermining the authority of the President by reminding him that his late mother was a saintly adherent to its dictates; three, threatening to excommunicate supporters of the pending Reproductive Health (RH) bill; and four, implicitly condemning to hell those who defy the Pope’s infallibility on matters relating to dogma.

However, the vexing thing is that the instant controversy pertains to the realm of morality, not dogma. It cannot be overstressed that it is in cases of dogma, not morality, that pronouncements of the Pontiff are held ex cathedra (infallible).

Understandably, non-ecclesiastics find themselves alienated in light of Pope Benedict XVI’s upholding of the principle conveyed by Pope Paul VI’s Humane Vitae (1968) which condemned artificial conception. In his affirmation of the encyclical, Pope Benedict lamented that the same had become controversial across time, but nonetheless had no choice but to declare that “what was then true is still true today.” Hmm, like it was right to excommunicate Galileo Galilei for insisting the earth was round?!

I will not belabor my pro-choice support for the pending RH bill. The issues are jaded, the arguments hackneyed, but the controversy has raged anew to a boiling point with an alarming escalation of clerical threats which only managed to generate a chaotic milieu of anti-Damaso epithets.

Incidentally, excommunication does not mean expulsion from the Catholic Church. It means the official exclusion of an errant from participating in the sacraments and services of the Church. Maracas de Caracas, isn’t it like being a Filipino being stripped of his rights of citizenship?! No wonder excommunication is considered a penalty far greater than that imposed for mortal sins and yet, doctrinally, one mortal sin can damn the sinner to the eternal fires of hell. Do you follow the logic? I don’t.

Let us recall that one is deemed to have committed a mortal sin if three conditions concur, to wit: gravity of the act, full knowledge of the gravity of the act, and willful consent to commit the same. Take out one, and you have only a venial sin. Therefore, if one has performed an act while honestly believing the same was not a sin or was only a minor error, he cannot be deemed to have committed a mortal sin. And this is where the crux of his outrage is: his support for the RH bill does not deserve excommunication because he has not committed a mortal sin!

A Pope cannot err on matters of dogma, but he can err in his judgment, for instance, on the moral character of a sin. If a father confessor rules a sin mortal, the penitent has no choice but to accept the verdict even if the priest made a mistake. Likewise, when an errant is excommunicated, he must accept a most severe punishment for an act or omission which, in his honest understanding of the same, was not at all evil.

The struggle between laymen and priests fulminates. Yes, perhaps Satan and his demons are upon us. Coming to mind now is St. John Bosco’s prophetic vision of the skies being turned black by the invading forces from Gehena. We also recall Pope Leo XIII’s clairvoyant account of Jesus accepting the Devil’s dare that the latter be given a hundred years to win souls, a time frame believed to be ending soon.

Unfortunately, we prefer to disregard the ancient prophecy that in the end times, satanic forces would sow discord among Cardinals, spouses and their children, and generally all the Lord’s people. Today, we are witnessing this spiritual catastrophe in our lives. The thought is disturbing that the demons have found unwitting allies in cassocks!

(Email: arnydolor@yahoo.com, cell # 09186449517, landline # 7106701)

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