By Mariano “Anong” Santos
PINOY Editor/Publisher


...“Rejection of Cardinal Cupich is like ‘giving the Pope the middle finger’
...continued from home page

right pic: CBCP President Bishop Socrates Villagas: “…One brother or sister killed is already too much.” (Inquirer photo)

Cardinal Cupich, who shepherds the third largest archdiocese said, “a coalition of people who respect human lives not only around one issue is far much stronger in realizing human dignity.”

Rejection in Baltimore

Then a week after I met Cardinal Cupich in Chicago, the fall general assembly of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Baltimore, bishops denied him the chairmanship for the group’s powerful Pro-Life Commission, handing the position to conservative Kansas City bishop, Joseph Naumann, with a vote of 96-82.

It is the first time in almost half-a-century U.S. Bishops elected a non-Cardinal to manage pro-life activities of the Catholic Church. Michael Sean Winters, a columnist for the National Catholic Reporter said the rejection of Cardinal Cupich “amounted to the bishops giving the middle finger to Pope Francis.”

Bishop Naumann is a known hardliner on abortion. Kathleen Sebelius, the Catholic former Kansas Governor, had been told during her incumbency to stop taking communion because of her pro-abortion stance. He also made known his non-support of Democratic vice presidential candidate, Tim Kaine, another Catholic, for the same reason.

The Kansas bishop also instructed his parishioners to dissociate themselves from the Girls Scout of America which he accused of supporting Planned Parenthood. The group had categorically denied this accusation. So apparently, there is a strong reason to believe that many Catholics who are known as Democratic Party supporters in the past on social issues have joined the Christian fundamentalists for their love of the Republican right.

A referendum on the Pope

The face-off between Chicago Cardinal Cupich and Kansas Archbishop Naumann was also seen as a referendum on whether or not the U.S. hierarchy is united behind the priorities and pastoral vision of Pope Francis who rose into the papacy in March 2013.

Pope Francis readily caused a stir in the church by saying, “We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods,” the pope said in an interview.

“The teaching of the church, for that matter, is clear and I am a son of the church, but it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time. The church’s pastoral ministry cannot be obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines to be imposed insistently. We have to find a new balance; otherwise even the moral edifice of the Church is likely to fall like a house of cards, losing the freshness and fragrance of the Gospel,” the Pope said at the outset of his papacy.

In his encyclical, Laudato Si', Pope Francis argued that abortion, the devastation brought on by climate change, and the ravages of economic inequality all take lives and should not be understood separately. “Everything is connected,” Francis emphasized.

Glimmer of Hope

Again, Cardinal Cupich rejected the idea that the Baltimore vote represented a rejection of the pope’s agenda. America’s bishops are “united in our love for the Holy Father,” Cupich said in an interview with the Chicago Tribune.

But again, if abortion rightly shocks the conscience, Cardinal Cupich wrote in a Chicago Tribune op-ed, “we should be no less appalled by the indifference toward the thousands of people who die daily for lack of decent medical care…or who are executed by the state in the name of justice".

He also said, “I’ve never given in to those categories, liberal and conservative,” he said. “I’m looking forward to working with my brother bishops to ensure that the sanctity of life is protected.”

John Gehring, the Catholic program director at Faith in Public Life based in Washington, D.C. said, “Cardinal Cupich may have lost the vote to lead the conference's pro-life committee, but he holds an even more important role.
“(In 2016), Francis appointed him to serve on the Vatican's Congregation of Bishops, an influential post that lets him advise the pope on who will be named new bishops,” Gehring wrote in the Commonweal.

There seems to be a glimmer of hope. Meanwhile, let’s turn our attention to the Philippine Bishops.

“Walk for Life”

Last Feb. 18, the Catholic Bishop’s Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) guiding the Catholic Laity held a huge prayer rally and a “Walk for Life” from the Quirino Grandstand toward the Rizal Monument and back to the Quirino Grandstand in Manila.

This was organized to demonstrate the Church’s opposition to the spate of extrajudicial killings amid the drug war under the Duterte regime. Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo, chair of the CBCP’s Episcopal Commission on the Laity, said the three -hour prayer rally drew lay people from all walks of life.

CBCP president Socrates Villegas said that “there will be more people who would be disturbed every time a person is killed, because one brother or sister killed is already too much.”

“Heal Our Land”

Then on Nov. 6, Catholic bishops led thousands of Church followers in calling for an end to killings in President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs as they urged the police and the military to stop the violence.

The CBCP organized a Mass at Our Lady of Edsa Shrine and procession to the People Power Monument along the historic highway where a bloodless popular revolt ended the iron-fist rule of dictator Ferdinand Marcos in 1986.

About 20,000 people — including opposition lawmakers, student and religious groups — joined the event, according to organizers.

The killing of three teenagers in August triggered rare public protests against Mr. Duterte’s campaign against illegal drugs, with rights groups accusing him of committing crimes against humanity in a crackdown that has claimed thousands of lives.

The Catholic Church, which counts 80 percent of Filipinos as followers, has been one of the leading critics of the war on drugs and has launched campaigns to stop the killings, including 40 days of mourning for the victims of the war on drugs, a period marked by nightly prayers and tolling of church bells that ended on Nov.6 and was replaced by a 33-day campaign called “Heal Our Land.”

Indeed, the faith that grew out of the lowly manger in Bethlehem is now the shining star that lit our way out of the darkness we are in today.

Merry Christmas to one and all!




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