After watching a movie about transgressions committed by men of the cloth in the United States, I thought to myself, good movie, it deserves to win. And, did it affect my faith? No contest, I still believe. I’ll continue to support the Church.
Where I come from, our land has a solid almost 500 years of Christianity. When studying our history, one would come across readings about orphans who were given surnames like “Delos Santos” (of the saints) and “Delos Reyes” (of the king), who were actually offsprings of priests and government officers respectively, an ID of some sort at that time (see History of the Filipino People by Teodoro Agoncillo). Then we have our national hero’s two novels, Noli Me Tangere (Social Cancer) and El Filibusterismo (The Reign of Greed), which describe how the the Indios (the word used then to refer to the natives of our country) were being treated by the Spanish friars, the Spaniards as whole. Taken in one perspective, oppression and discrimination of the natives are part and parcel of being colonized. In another perspective, especially when it comes to religion, one would conclude that it was Catholicism which was the reason why the natives were easily colonized. Indeed, it was.
However, despite the fact that these were what happened then in our country, Catholicism is still very much the major religion. One might have encounters with men of the cloth committing moral transgressions but still, faith is there and remains strong. It cannot be denied that many have moved to other religious denominations or have been attending Catholic rites less and less or even being least observant of Catholic teachings; but when it comes to traditions like the recently concluded “translacion” of the Black Nazarene of Quiapo, there is still a sea of devotees who have remained strong in their faith.
This is the year of mercy. We understand that our men of the cloth are still human; but we have expectations that they go beyond their “human nature” in their chosen vocation, that of being Christ’s ministers. We, too, in our daily lives are expected to live up the standards of our professions. As lawyers, we’re expected to uphold the law, not to twist it. As doctors, we’re expected to help keep our patients healthy, not drug dependents. As teachers, we practice what we preach, not “do as I say”. And the list goes on for whatever our vocation in life is. So let’s be forgiving and considerate of each other’s failings. As each profession has its own check and balance to make sure best practices are observed in the professions and the industries, the Vatican through our Pope Francis I is now taking measures regarding transgressions committed by men of the cloth.
So it is with my faith. It is microscopic, smaller than the mustard seed. My faith has been tested over and over with a lot of tribulations I’ve been through and transgressions against my person. It’s okay. My faith does not depend on the fallibility of the priest. It depends on how the priest, whether he is aware of it or not either through the gospel or through the sermon, is able to send God’s message for me. This makes it all well for me. And growing in my faith also needs to be worked on – through my interactions with other people, through my work but especially through prayer and meditation. See! That’s how I deal with my faith.
Lastly, if we need each other to grow in faith, all the more do men of the cloth need us that they are able to carry out their work as ministers of God. Let’s pray for them that they be strong in keeping their vows, that they be free from worldly temptations and that they will always be effective in spreading God’s Word to us. And despite all criticisms against the men of the cloth, I hope we continue to support the Church and its works.