17 Feb 2017
- By Zaldy Dandan - firstname.lastname@example.org
“Faith is not, contrary to the usual ideas, something that turns out to be right or wrong, like a gambler’s bet….” — Joanna Russ
IF some believers professing a major religion (you know which one) commit one appalling atrocity after another, we will be called “ignorant and biased” if we question some of the basic tenets of their faith. However, whenever a Catholic priest is accused of wrongdoing, it’s OK to make sweeping generalizations about Catholicism. The Church is evil, its critics say, and its devotees are either too deluded or too dumb to be outraged — they should leave the Church.
And that’s why we should also give up on constitutional democracy and the rule of law. Why? Why not after reading the American Declaration of Independence (“[A]ll men are created equal, [and] are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness….), and then learning about how the same government founded on such lofty if not sacred ideals dealt with U.S. citizens who happened to be of the “wrong” color. Never mind the non-U.S. colored people. (U.S. Army Gen. “Howling” Jake Smith’s instruction to his troops during the American invasion of the P.I. in 1901: “I want no prisoners. I wish you to kill and burn, the more you kill and burn the better it will please me…. Kill everyone over the age of 10…and make the island a howling wilderness.”)
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The Catholic Church, one of its members told me, is under siege.
When was it never “under siege”? Its founder was tortured and nailed on the cross. His associates were hunted down like dogs, and His other followers were fed to the lions. Even when the powers-that-be adopted Catholicism as their faith, the Church in Europe seemed to be always in the midst of clashing armies. In the 20th century, it survived two of the most depraved totalitarian regimes in history.
Today it is being buffeted by secularism, indifference and intellectuals who tell us that the vastness of the universe may be beyond our comprehension and that ultimately we know nothing — while insisting that they’re dead sure that belief in a Divinity is boneheaded if not beyond the pale.
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The critics’ Church is different from the believers’ Church which, first of all, does not condone sexual abuse. “I pledge to you,” Pope Francis said, “that we will follow the path of truth wherever it may lead. Clergy and bishops will be held accountable when they abuse or fail to protect children.” On Guam, the archbishop’s harshest critics are the island’s Catholics.
Early this week, we learned that a Guam resident has accused Bishop Emeritus Tomas A. Camacho of sexually abusing him when he was an altar boy in the early 1970s. The alleged incidents occurred on Guam where the future bishop served as a priest.
The accusers and the accused should have their day in court, of course; but imagine your reaction if you heard someone accusing someone else who is not a priest of sexual abuse that happened over 40 years ago.
It’ll be interesting to find out how this very serious allegation can be proven in a court of law. But in Bishop Camacho’s case, I don’t know if the accusation against him can be disproved in today’s court of public opinion.
As far as I know, however, during his many years of service on Saipan, the bishop was beyond reproach. He was devout, kind, respectful and respected. In my book, he was, still is, a man of faith — a good man.
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