Excerpts from the talk of Most Rev. +Leonardo Z. Legaspi, OP, DD
“THE ROLE OF BISHOPS AS LEADERS IN ADDRESSING
CRISIS IN GOVERNANCE”
Pius XII Catholic Center, UN Ave., Manila
25 January 2007
The tension between the State and our people arises when there is widespread and prolonged perception by our citizens that the State no longer represents their interests, their dreams, their values.
When this situation reaches crisis proportions, historically there is a tendency for leaders of our civil society to run to the church for resolving it. This tempts us to engage in political action. But today, we hear more clearly than ever the words of the Pope who stated in his first encyclical: “The Church cannot and must not take upon herself the political battle to bring about the most just society possible… a just society must be the achievement of politics, not of the Church.” (Deus Caritas Est, no. 28)
Note carefully the position taken by Pope Benedict XVI: “…a just society must be the achievement of politics, not of the Church.” But the Pope acknowledges the dilemma this brings to bishops when he states: “Yet at the same time the Church cannot and must not remain on the sidelines in the fight for justice.”
But now, in the Philippines with the emergence of a fledgling political party that deliberately adopts PCP-II principles for its platform, we finally have a group of lay who can enter the world of politics, reform it from within and work for the establishment of the Kingdom of God.
I refer to Nandy Pacheco’s talk on Ang Kapatiran. Some 16 years ago when we discussed our political situation in the Second Plenary Council of the Philippines (PCP-II), we expressed strongly the view that “given the general perception that politics has become an obstacle to integral development, the urgent necessity is for the lay faithful to participate more actively, with singular competence and integrity, in political affairs. It is through the laity that the Church is directly involved.” (Acts of PCP-II, no. 348)
Now we have a group of Catholic men and women “with singular competence and integrity” that has taken the challenge of PCP-II. A study of their Declaration of Principles faithfully echoes the PCP-II’s position on Life and Dignity of the Human Person; our preferential option for the poor and vulnerable; dignity of work and rights of workers, etc. A feature of Ang Kapatiran which can be its main distinguishing mark is its emphasis on the party and its platform rather than on personalities and their sponsors. A mature party is the bedrock of democracy for it reflects the interests and values of the majority of our people instead of defending vested interests and promoting the cult of personality.
Is there a way out of the darkness? Where and how do we begin?