Religion and Politics are a Bad Mix in the Philippines

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Sorsogon Bishop Arturo Bastes recently proposed that President Noynoy Aquino go into retreat this Holy Week so he can seek divine enlightenment – and not just rely on his natural discernment — to lead the country in the “daang matuwid” or right path or direction.

The nerve of Bastes!

Scores of our Catholic bishops, including Bastes, give unsolicited political advice to senior leaders from time to time, but they don’t seem to recognize and realize that the ranks of Catholic leaders also badly need tons of sound advice and even natural and divine discernment.

For instance, Catholic leaders in the Philippines have not issued any categorical condemnation of sexual abuses perpetrated by Pinoy priests and bishops on lay people – adults and minors — and to provide ample restitution to victims.

Scores of bishops have also failed to recognize and condemn the wanton thievery of public coffers perpetrated Gloria Arroyo and her cohorts. Some of them even had the gall of asking GMA’s office for different types of vehicles.

No, bishops are definitely not among the best people who should be dishing out political advice — if they themselves can’t clean up their own ranks.

Many bishops are even naive politically as they fail miserably to recognize political and social realities.

So, how on earth can they provide logical and sound political advice?

The late Jaime Cardinal Sin, though, was a very, very rare exception.  Hardly anyone among the bishops today seems capable of making sense when talking about politics.

What a shame — and yet some bishops still choose to publicly mesh up with politics.

Instead of giving advice to PNoy, they should instead ask GMA, her husband, former Comelec chief Benjamin Abalos, former Agriculture official Jocjoc Bolante and other former GMA officials, including Supreme Court chief Justice Renato Corona, to ask during this year’s Lenten season for the forgiveness of the Lord and the Filipino people for the theft of public money and other abuses which they committed against the Filipino people.

PNoy is on the right track in vigorously leading the fight against endemic graft and corruption in government.

True, his government’s poverty alleviation and jobs creation programs leave much to be desired.

But I’d rather have a president who doesn’t personally lead the theft of public money and is instead causing the prosecution of grafters so there will be more money spent for expanding services to the poor segments of our society.

And what has the Catholic church done in the area of poverty alleviation? Almost nil, if there’s any.

So, to Bastes and other outspoken bishops, better stick to religious issues if you have nothing sensible to say in the political and social fronts.

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