Friday, May 14, 2010

CLERICAL OBLIGATION

“Clerics are bound always to do their utmost in fostering among people, peace and harmony based on justice.” (Canon 287 par. 1 CIC)

IT is a given that as concretely provided by the Code of Canon Law, Clerics—deacons, priest and bishops—have a pretty good number of obligations compared to their rather very few rights. It is for this distinct reason that instead of the standard phrase “Rights and Obligations”, the said Code of laws for the Universal Church says it exactly in the reverse, viz., “The Obligations and Rights of Clerical” (Book II, Chapter III).

And during these troubled and troubling times in the country when majority of the population is either but nominally or really practicing “Christian”, it becomes not only relevant but also practical to know and understand not simply who but, specially so, what are clerics for. Truth to say, deacons, priests and bishops are not merely meant to stay in their churches and remain in their convents—such as in terms of baptizing infants and blessing the dead, celebrating fiestas, holding novenas and conducting processions. The said agenda form an essential part of the ordained ministry. It remains true nevertheless that the said clerical services—necessary and sublime as they are—remain comforting and comfortable. But said programs alone, keep clerics in the so called “Comfort Zone”.

However, nothing less than Church Law officially provides the obligatory intervention of clerics in favor of the people in general when justice premised on truth and productive of peace is at stake, i.e., in danger of or actually being seriously violated and trampled upon. The reason for this particular obligation of clerics is not difficult to decipher: falsity is the motor of injustice, and injustice is the producer of disharmony, disunity and dissent. The Social Doctrine of the Church is all out against this inhumanity of man to his fellowmen.

This is definitely not meant to say that the people as whole—who are the forefront victims of social injustice—may simply act as the infamous “Three Monkeys” whereby each one of them “sees nothing, hears nothing, says nothing”. It is even said that in these times, a fourth monkey even joined the triad. This one “does nothing”! Would that people assume their social responsibility as they should and thereby enjoy the blessing of peace as the fruit of justice.

People may not afford to forget that in a republican democracy like the Philippines, sovereignty resides in them—not on those few in the present government who have assumed the roles of glorious masters with inglorious legacy. In such a pitiful situation, it is both the right and duty of the Filipino people to stand up, speak and act. The Filipino Clergy then, though few in number, cannot be but with the people.

OVCRUZ, JCD
14 MAY 2010