Dense And/Or Malicious?

By Fr. Roy Cimagala
The Bohol Chronicle

For a while I was frozen in disbelief as I read newspaper headlines and commentaries of what the Pope said recently about condoms. Who would not be dismayed when you read titles like, "Church has changed her position on condoms"?

There were more disconcerting takes. UN officials welcomed the Church's change of heart. Palace told bishops should now soften their stand on the RH bill given the Pope's statement on condoms.

Lagman, the main RH bill proponent, and the Damasonians were practically dancing in the streets. Some clerics now lawyering for the bill must be excited.

I could not believe that some officials who are supposed to have some IQ and the media would bother to publish this clear case of misinformation, since the clarification on the part of the Vatican was readily available.

It was again another field day for sensationalism. Virtually a bar room type of atmosphere, complete with the carousing and the drunkenness, with practically the whole international community as the stage.

The Pope's words were twisted. Commentators just selected a part and blew it up according to their own agenda. They were actually expressing their own mind, not the Pope's.

Where have we fallen into? I can't help but think that those responsible for transmitting this piece of misinformation must be dense and/or plainly malicious. Sorry, I don't have many other possibilities.

To make things worse, I wonder if we can expect any note of apology from any of the protagonists. What is most likely is to play the blaming game. And most likely the blame would mainly fall on the Pope for making such statement.

But the Pope did right in clarifying that matter about the condoms. What he was actually saying was that condoms as contraceptives are always wrong, are always sinful.

Yet in spite of that sinfulness, one can still distinguish shades of mitigating circumstances. The "justification" of the use of the condom arises from this-that it can prevent graver harm, that it can be a sign of a beginning conversion, etc.

Just the same, its use as a contraceptive in spite of those mitigating circumstances is already wrong. Obviously, when the condom is used as a balloon for decoration or toy, its use is not anymore sinful. It's now moral.

So the Pope is trying to be nuanced in his approach to a moral situation. Who says the Pope and the Church in general are just dogmatic, so black and white as not to admit shades? I would say, the Pope was trying to take us a step further than our current state of understanding about condom use.

The reasoning behind the Pope's argument echoes the one used by our Lord himself when he talked about the unjust steward, found in Luke 16. Our Lord praised the dishonest steward for his cleverness in arranging things when he, the steward, would eventually be kicked out of his employment.

So, our Lord, even in the midst of an over-all sin, managed to see bright spots in that cleverness.

The parable concluded by saying, "The master commended the dishonest steward for his prudence. For the children of this world are wiser in their generation than the children of light." (Lk 16,8)

As our Lord said, we need to be innocent as doves but also shrewd as serpents. We have to be very prudent and discerning, without allowing that prudence to spoil the goodness of our heart. It's not easy, but it can be done, with God's grace and our efforts.

This quality is necessary these days, when we know that some people and even some leaders in politics, business, etc., can be playing the devil's games. Recently, for example, we were pleasantly surprised to hear former US President Clinton sort of giving a positive comment on our big population.

Without saying that he is playing the devil's game, we are of course happy to hear what he said, though we should not forget what he is known for. He is good in playing games, and so we just have to decipher what game he is playing this time.

If in the end, it's found that he is being honest, then well and good. If not, then we have to act accordingly. We should try to avoid being taken for a ride, being sweet talked to. We are living in dangerous times. We need to be familiar, for example, with the reality behind the expression, "wag the dog."

But prudence should allow us to see the silver lining in the world's dark clouds.


Congratulations to our dear "Pambansang Kamao"

Now I believe what boxing promoter Bob Arum said that Manny Pacquiao is the greatest boxer he had ever seen, greater even than heavy weight boxing legend M. Ali. But what gains most my respect for Manny as a professional boxer in this fight with Margarito is the fact that he has chosen to spare Margarito from possible further severe injuries when he could have easily knock him down at the last rounds. At the eleventh round, he even quickly glanced at the corner of his opponent to look for signs of surrender from Margarito's coach because he was unwilling to hurt Margarito's badly swollen face any more destructively.

For me Manny won even a deeper level of victory that no other fighter could have shown if they were the ones in Manny's position in this fight. At the last round, Manny could have easily gone for the "kill", but he has chosen to end the final round with less powerful punches and saved Margarito further severe injuries to the face.

With such strength and a great team that the Lord has blessed Manny with, who can compare to the glory that Manny has given our homeland? No fighter I've yet seen who is like Manny who is not ashamed to honor the Lord in each of his professional fights.

In one interview I heard Manny said something like, "Tao lang si Margarito, nagkakamali. No one is perfect." By honoring Margarito with a professional bout, even though Margarito lost, Manny was able to restore back Margarito's dignity as a professional boxer after that big mistake Margarito had done that caused him a long time of suspension.

Manny, congratulations! We are so proud of you, our dear "Pambansang Kamao". May you remain humble and may you continue to share the overwhelming blessings that the Lord has blessed you with --materially, physically, and spiritually. Never forget to honor the Lord with some portion of your blessings.