We are a people of dialogue. As such we have the moral obligation to search for the truth in freedom, the truth about God, about life, about ourselves, our country, our society, our world and the events around us.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Answers to Questions on Jueteng

CBCP President answers media questions on Archbishop Cruz’s involvement in jueteng

Q: Personally, how do you see Abp. Oscar Cruz’s involvement in the crusade against jueteng?

FRC: (Abp. Fernando R. Capalla) I wholeheartedly support Abp. Cruz’s crusade against jueteng. He is pointing out one of the ills of society, and that is part of his duties as a priest. In calling our attention to the evils of jueteng Abp. Cruz is meeting a need in the Church, the need for us bishops to fulfill our prophetic role as pastors.

Q: While many people support him, there are also others who criticize him for purportedly being too involved in the issue, as indicated by his regular appearance in televised Senate investigations and media interviews.

FRC: Too involved? What he is doing—fighting the evil in jueteng— is in accordance with Church teachings; how he does it—in other words, how he conducts his fight—is his personal responsibility. Abp. Cruz is a righteous man, guided by his conscience. Conscience is higher than the Pope; it is a matter between you and God, so how can anyone judge whether or not Abp. Cruz is already “being too involved” as you say?

Q: If Abp. Cruz’s cause is all that worthy, why is he the only bishop fighting it?

FRC: Jueteng or illegal gambling is only one of the problems in our society. Even if all of us 90 or so active bishops were assigned one evil to fight each, still we would have our hands full fighting our individual battles in addition to our responsibilities in our respective dioceses. I, for example, have my hands full with peace-building concerns and the plight of coconut farmers, plus my duties in the Archdiocese of Davao. Some of us may be occupied with problems of oppressed farm workers in their dioceses. Some may be concerned with giving land to the landless—and in many cases in our far-flung barrios even the lack of clean water and electricity would be the concern of the bishops! And although all of us bishops would be doing our part in forming future priests, some of us are called upon to focus more on that work. These are but a few issues that bishops deal with. We may not all be that interesting to media, and most of us are quiet workers who really would rather not be known or talked about, but rest assured that we are waging our own wars against problems that plague our people, and expending our energies to remain true to our calling in building God’s kingdom. So you ask me my personal opinion about a brother-bishop’s jueteng crusade? We are participating in different ways—by addressing the situations, for instance, that lead people to trust luck more than hard work. Why do people not mind losing a few pesos each day in the hope of winning easy money one day? Educating our people in the faith, forming their conscience and instilling in them sound values and attitudes—this occupies us as pastors, and if we persevere in doing this, by the grace of God, we will finally enjoy a society without jueteng.

Archbishop of Davao
President, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines

August 12, 2005