A Voice in the Middle of Chaos: An Appeal for Unity in the Diocese of Paranaque

 

I am but a small voice,

I am but a small dream,

The fragrance of a flow’r in the unpolluted air

I have been wanting to write something about a pressing issue affecting the Diocese of Paranaque. For days I have been perusing letters and documents, browsing websites, too, in an effort to put up a transparent write-up. In short, I have long pondered how to communicate that all I am after for is the truth.

I have also considered just being silent about it and not posting anything online. I deduced that prayer was probably the best thing I can do. I wasn’t directly involved in the conflict anyway. I could simply go on with my life, not minding the squabble of my elders in the church. What do I have to do with it? What I do and say couldn’t change anything anymore. What can a small voice do?

To smile upon the sun,

Be free to dance and sing,

Be free to sing my song to everyone

Then again, I realized that I had to speak out. The lay are not wallflowers in the Catholic Church. I am not simply a church-goer who shuffles in and out every Sunday. As lay, I have the duty to “manifest to the sacred pastors opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church, and the right to make my opinion known to the other faithful, with due regard to the integrity of faith and morals and reverence towards their pastors, and with consideration for the common good and the dignity of persons.” (CIC can. 212 § 3)

With this, let me say straight to the point the things I have been meaning to say. Consider this a shoutout to those behind the smear campaign against Bishop Jesse Mercado. I may not know fully what the truth is, I may not know everything even if I have been actively involved in the efforts of the lay to unify the diocese but this is what I know that should never have been done: disregarding due process. I think all of us know how the media can twist something to make it more controversial. Case in point that Rappler interview distastefully done to Bishop Jesse.

One of the things I learned in Catholic school when I was a kid was that I should not be quick to judge because Jesus could have judged me so many times whenever I sinned. “Brethren, even if a man is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness” (Galatians 6:1) If Bishop Jesse or anyone else was guilty of the accusations, we have been reminded by our faith to do just that: approach the matter in a Spirit of gentleness. I do not see gentleness in all these, especially if I would believe what was reported that the very people behind all these are priests too.

Come young citizens of the world
We are one, we are one

Shouldn’t conflicts be approached with the goal of unity? I think I have written this down in my reflection notebook; it came from one of the homilies I have heard precisely in my diocese. Where is unity in all these? Wasn’t it written in the bible how we should look into conflicts? “Being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” (Ephesians 4:3) Where is the approach to unity with all the name-calling? The establishment of a Facebook page insulting the bishop, calling him bishop Pinocchio and even doing caricatures that scandalize the Church? The blasphemous posting of Christ’s image covered with the texts lack of transparency, deception, lies? It seemed to me as if the accusations weren’t just directed to bishop, but to Christ, Himself. If unity is our goal, the issues should have been talked over in a humble and brotherly manner. Pride down! Didn’t Christ teach us that we should do all things in love as He had loved us?

We have one hope
We have one dream

I remember singing this song when I was kindergarten. It was when we were kids that we were taught the basics of life: saying sorry, saying thank you, avoid hitting your classmate, do not say bad words, do not tell lies. As we grew up and we got involved more in the world beyond our kindergarten classrooms, we forgot the things that were taught to us.

As Catholics, I hope we may never forget, in the light of all these painful occurrences, to look into the basics that Jesus has taught us. In this chaos, I appeal to my kind pastors to resolve all this in love. More than it will affect you as our shepherds, it will affect us more…the people who look to you for strength, for guidance, for direction. I also appeal to my brothers and sisters in Christ to be Christians when we speak out our opinions, as I said earlier…in the Spirit of gentleness.

Bishop Jesse is still our father in the diocese. Let the investigations go on and may we all patiently wait. The truth will come out eventually. May we not do things that will cause further division and pain. Do pray harder, especially for the men who have consecrated their life for the Gospel.

At this point, we have one hope, we have one dream, we have one goal and that is peace and unity. May we, as one voice, shout out the love that was echoed to us by Christ when He died on the cross. He died not to scatter us but He died to unite all men in Him…to unite the Church.

And with one voice

We sing

Peace, prosperity and love for all mankind.

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