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.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Hope opens human hearts to reconciliation, solidarity and peace

A telephone interview:
CBCP president Archbishop Fernando Capalla
answers media’s questions on Friday’s dispersal

We caught CBCP President Archbishop Fernando Capalla a few minutes before he was to leave Pontificio Collegio Filippino for the Synod Hall. Abp. Capalla has been in Rome since Sept. 30, as one of the three delegates representing the Philippines in the Synod of Bishops being held from October 1-23. The other two are Archbishop Carmelo Morelos of Zamboanga and Bishop Antonio Tagle of Imus.

Q: What can you say about the recent incident involving three bishops, priests and nuns in a procession that was dispersed through the use of water cannons?

A: It is very difficult to appreciate a situation from miles away; the local bishops are in a better position to take care of the flock or to air their thoughts on the incident.

Q: Well, the bishops have spoken, interviewed by media, although we have yet to hear from the local bishops—Archbishop Gaudencio Rosales of Manila (since the incident happened in Manila) and Bishop Honesto Ongtioco (since some priests and nuns supposedly come from his diocese)—but we would like to hear from you being the CBCP President.

A: First, allow me to tell you that the picture for me is rather hazy. The sessions at the Synod Hall last the whole day, and they are heavy; leaving us no time to even watch the news on TV. The only updating I get is from a handful of priests and friends, if they can catch me at all. So they told me about the incident you are referring to, and asked me if it is right that bishops, priests and nuns be there, but I understand it was a religious procession, so why should it be surprising to find them there?

Q: Yes it was supposed to be a religious procession, although some politicians were present…

A: And even if it was a political rally the nuns and priests were joining, I’m willing to believe that they were acting to the best of their understanding, out of conviction and deep faith.

Q: If that’s the case, was it right that they be dispersed as they were?

A: I am willing to believe, too, that the police were also acting out of a deep sense of duty to ensure order. Both sides want justice and peace. I am reminded of a saying that goes: “There are always three sides to an argument: your side, my side, and the side of Truth.” The fighting will never stop until we acknowledge the third side: the Truth. That is what we have to see or to look at: if we want peace, we must be ready to be peacemakers. Christ, in the Sermon on the Mount, called the peacemakers “blessed.” We must be willing to believe that we all want peace, whatever is our political color, because peace is everyone's responsibility which passes through the thousand little acts that make up everyday life. In the midst of armed conflict, the Bishop is a shepherd who, while exhorting his flock to assert their rights, must always remind them that Christians are obliged in all cases to reject vengeance and to be prepared to forgive and to love their enemies. There can be no justice without forgiveness. Hard as it may be to accept, for any sensible person the matter seems obvious: true peace is possible only through forgiveness. Those are not only my ideas—I am merely rephrasing from Pastores Gregis, Pope John Paul II’s apostolic exhortation on the Bishop as Servant of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Q: Perhaps you can articulate your personal opinion as a bishop and CBCP President away from the homeland? What is the role of the bishop in these trying times?

A: The Bishop is a prophet, witness and servant of hope who has the duty of instilling confidence and proclaiming before all people the basis of Christian hope. Where there is no hope, people question faith and love is weakened. Especially in times of growing unbelief and indifference such as our country is in at present, the bishop is the Shepherd who reminds the flock of God’s love for His people. This God does not want us fighting; He wants salvation of all people. The bishop as shepherd leads his flock to hope in Jesus Christ—that hope will open human hearts to reconciliation, solidarity and peace.

17 October 2005

Refer to:
Teresa Tunay
CBCP Media Office