Friday, March 21, 2008

Jesus and People Power

In Why People Power III is taking its time, I’ve wrapped up with a reminder that “Ecclesiastics and the laity alike must not fail to remember that the continuing appeal of Christianity as a powerful religious upheaval and of People Power is due to the historical reality that both have given hope to the many who were once powerless.”

On the other hand, Manolo Quezon’s pointed entry on Roman Catholicism vis-à-vis charges of possible abuse of pastoral authority by certain bishops in the Philippines (prompting NBN/ZTE deal star witness Jun Lozada to call the Archdiocese of Cebu as the “Archdiocese of Malacañang”) has come to highlight the historicity of the Church hierarchy and papal primacy:
Catholicism is a hierarchical religion, and administratively, organized under imperial Roman lines, one of the Pope’s titles being that of Supreme Pontiff (Pontifex Maximus), one of the titles of the emperors of Rome; archbishops and bishops rule of over dioceses, a term borrowed from the administrative setup of the Roman empire. Spiritually, it is organized on both a hierarchical and collegial lines, as bishops are successors of the Apostles, of whom the first among equals was Peter:

“And I say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock will my church be based, and the doors of hell will not overcome it.”

As a religion that happens to have a government, the governing power of Catholicism is exercised by the Pope in a political sense (as sovereign of the Vatican City state), and in a spiritual sense, by the Pope together with the bishops. In matters of faith and morals, the Pope is infallible when proclaiming dogma: for example, Pius XII’s proclamation of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin as dogma; infallibility is also granted the hierarchy of the Church when they gather in Ecumenical Council for the same purpose, for example, most recently, Vatican II.
But there was of course a period of decadence in ecclesiastical hierarchy and authority when bishops, even popes, were drawn into royal service or forced to an interweaving of ecclesiastical and royal authority, or when the Church in fact saw its division into dioceses and individual parishes well-nigh lapsing into popular Christianity.

More recently, there have been profound changes initiated by progressive leaders of the Roman Catholic Church weighing down on the scaffold of the Church’s culture of hierarchy that the Philippine Church (and other Catholic conservatives) might have failed to catch on.

For example, the idea of workers empowerment has been attributed to an Englishman named Eric Trist, considered to be the “evangelist for participative management.” Challenging the conventional wisdom about the imperative for “autocracy” in business concerns, Trist suggested that giving workers complete responsibility for an entire operation could lead to job performance that is more productive. It was also a challenge directed to “scientific management” which Henry Ford perfected in the U.S. automobile factories. The concept of empowered work team, however took root in the U.S. only in the 70s and 80s, and only after the Second Vatican Council had begun preparation in 1959, the most important achievement of which could be the empowerment of the laity and the parallel cutback in the power of the clergy and maybe the magisterium itself.

At the Second Vatican Council, among the progressive documents enacted by the fathers is the “Dogmatic Constitution of the Church” (Lumen Gentium) which, inter alia, called the lay people to share the missionary vocation of the church and described the church as the “People of God.” Another Council document, the “Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy,” has promulgated the principle of greater participation of the laity in the celebration of the mass. The Council also enunciated the apostolate of the laity.

The monarchical underpinnings of the First Vatican Council (1869-1870) that proclaimed the infallibility of the pope when speaking ex cathedra somehow deferred, following the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), to the increasing role of the bishops (versus the papal prerogative of infallibility) even as the textual modification of the Canon Law paved the way for the recognition of the expanding role of the laity, Chapter III of Lumen Gentium, affirming the hierarchical structure of the Church notwithstanding.

The notion of “shared responsibility,” “co-responsible leadership,” and “decision-making by consensus,” became intertwined with the progressive construction of the Canon Law provisions, as modified by the Second Council, on “pastoral (parish) councils” long before those terminologies became fashionable in the world of business, management and political discourse.

Pope John Paul II in Sources of Renewal, a book he wrote about his experience at the Second Vatican Council, articulated the following:
“. . . A parish needs a council in order to insure that it is truly faithful to God’s call. Catholics have always cherished the idea of obedience and fidelity to God’s word spoken in and through the Church. It is that same Church that is calling its people now to listen for God’s words spoken not only through the leadership, but through fellow Christians as well. But to hear that word spoken through the people requires a new structure, a new way. A council united with the pastor provides by design that way, because its representative nature insures that every voice is heard, not just those that are the loudest, or the most powerful or the most traditional. ”(Italics mine.)
Expounding on the same vein in his book, Co-responsibility in the Church, Leo Joseph Cardinal Suenens, who helped set the agenda of the Vatican II, wrote:
“. . . The role of the one in charge is not that of making a ‘personal’ decision after taking the advice of others into account. For in that case it would still be ‘his’ decision. His role is rather to make it possible, in so far as this depends upon him, for there is to be a common decision, which commits each member to the decision, in such a way that they are solidly behind it and willing to accept all the consequences of what has been decided together.”
Many Christian faithfuls recognize in the gospel narrative that the first to rebel against Hierarchy was Jesus himself. Despite being Divine, Jesus came down not as a conquering King but as a steward to serve and not be served, to ransom as many men, to “go on to the nearby villages” and to build the rock, one Peter at a time.

Christianity triumphed not only for the fact that it accepted all believers (rich, poor, woman, Samaritan, Jews or gentiles); it also returned the power of hope to the powerless.


Anonymous Ano nymous said...

There was a brief moment made available but people power voiced out loud --- Barabbas, not Jesus.

March 21, 2008 7:44 PM  
Blogger Abe N. Margallo said...


Even when Jesus was ministering to the multitude, he also engaged them in honest dialogue. He did not hesitate to clarify questions from the faithfuls and the doubting as well as confront the cunning entrapment of the Pharisee.

The crowd who asked for the crucifixion of Jesus was a coaxed mob as in EDSA Tres.

March 22, 2008 11:23 AM  
Blogger cvj said...

Palm Sunday where Jesus rode into Jerusalem was a form of People Power.

Happy Easter Abe!

March 23, 2008 2:49 AM  
Blogger Abe N. Margallo said...

Thank you, cvj, and . . .


March 23, 2008 12:34 PM  
Anonymous Ano nymous said...

And the Jerusalem-capital region crowd chose Jesus Son of the Father, not the Jesus from Nazareth.

March 24, 2008 2:25 PM  
Anonymous Ano nymous said...


The fall-out continues from the revelation that Obama belongs to a black-liberation church whose pastor has orated "God Damn America", that the U.S. government invented AIDS to destroy "people of color" and also has suggested that U.S. policies in the Middle East and elsewhere were partly responsible for the 2001 terrorist attacks on New York and the Pentagon.

A new Gallup poll indicates that 28 percent of Clinton supporters say they would vote for McCain over Obama should she not get the nomination. 19 percent of Obama supporters say they would go for McCain over Clinton.

March 26, 2008 8:57 PM  
Blogger Bren said...

Freedom of expression. The link below is to FITNA the movie. Bravo to LIVELEAK for releasing it, the same movie that Holland for fear of hooliganism on its soil, wanted to suppress.

March 28, 2008 9:39 AM  
Blogger Bren said...

The islamo-fascists have threatened liveleak. Because of death threats to its employees, has taken down the FITNA movie.

March 30, 2008 2:54 PM  
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