Friday, July 01, 2005
Paggalang sa mga Yumao
Pardon the Filipino, which means "respect for the dead." I jumped into a heated forum dicussing continuing criticism of John Paul the Great and the American sex abuse scandals, so I shouldn't have wondered that I'd get burned. Still, people are people. May I never stereotype them into villains and saints. Whereas I was stung, he who did that sent me an unexpected apology. We all do our best in any engagement, even when we end up on opposite sides. My side is simple. While we acknowledge that JPII/JPG had the ultimate responsibility as shepherd, we can only criticize him to a certain extent. We can say something about his actions because we saw them. What we cannot do is judge his heart. Only the Holy Spirit can plumb those depths. What saint am I to presume knowledge of the man's motives, intentions and the contraints he lived with? The Filipino culture has changed much, but one thing which I hope will never change is a great emphasis on respect: paggalang or, more recoganizable, respeto. The departed are no excemption -- they too deserve respect. We can say what can be said objectively about the flaws that they had, and we all have them, but attacking the dead is about as fair as wrestling with an infant. They are helpless, they cannot defend themselves, and it is rather mean and unfair to attack a helpless subject. It also gets to a point that, in heaping all the blame on JPG's head, the true culprits escape undetected. With all the anger and hatred directed at JPG, what righteous anger is left over to prosecute the abusers, their superiors who hung it all on secular therapists, who did not care enough about the vulnerable members of their own diocese? What about the people around the parishes who had a whiff of what was going on, yet did not act? What about the community, the civil authorities? It is not entirely rhetorical to say that there are far more people who could have acted sooner than the Pope in Rome. But where does the blame end? At the end of the day, what matters is to move towards preventing future abuses. The sex abuse scandal was terrible, and we wish JPG had been able to do more. One thing that we do not have, however, is perfect certitude about that.