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‘OMG! Sin’s oft-quoted witticism just a joke’

The cardinal must be turning in his grave.

Church leaders should lay off that much-quoted witticism from the late Manila Archbishop Jaime Cardinal Sin that he would accept money from the devil himself if that would help the poor, according to running priest Robert Reyes.

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The famously wisecracking Sin was only “joking” when he said that, and “he must be turning in his grave because people have taken him seriously,” said Reyes.

The priest believes this was what has brought the Church to such a “humiliating” pass when seven of its bishops recently had to face grilling by graft-busting senators for being the recipients of donations from former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo by way of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO).

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Moral weakness

One of the prelates, Butuan Bishop Juan de Dios Pueblos even used Sin’s clever remark to justify his asking Arroyo for money to buy a vehicle so he could reach his far-flung parishioners in Mindanao. The money was provided by the PCSO.

“What happened here was not an example of moral evil but more of moral weakness. After the humiliation of appearing before the Senate, Church leaders should now raise their moral standards,” Reyes said.

“The Catholic Church must now be extremely careful in accepting donations,” he said.

Acting for Arroyo?

Reyes also called on former Manila Mayor Lito Atienza and lawyer Romulo Macalintal to call off their campaign to raise funds for the seven bishops who returned to the government the vehicles that had been bought with PCSO funds.

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“(Atienza and Macalintal) should stop this. They are taking advantage of the Church’s misery, trying to appear like white knights coming to the rescue,” he said.

He seemed to imply that Atienza and Macalintal, known associates of the former President and Pampanga representative, were acting for Arroyo.

“Atienza was her environment secretary while Macalintal was her lawyer. It’s bad enough that the Church was accepting funds from GMA, now we have a rehash of what happened before,” Reyes said.

“It’s GMA all over again. Atienza and Macalintal are just fronts of GMA,” he said.

In exchange for silence

According to Reyes, while Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago may be right in saying that there was no legal or constitutional violation in Church leaders accepting PCSO donations, it was “morally wrong” for the bishops to have accepted money from the Arroyo administration.

“It was morally wrong because the acceptance of these gifts were made in exchange for their silence,” Reyes said.

He said Pueblos “never said anything” to criticize Arroyo in all the time that the former President was facing allegations of corruption and electoral fraud.

According to Reyes, if Church leaders needed vehicles to serve their parishioners, they could turn to international Church aid agencies like Missio, Miserior and the Aid to the Church in Need.

“You could write them and ask for a vehicle for those far-flung parishes but it takes six months to one year to get them. With GMA, you only have to wait six minutes,” Reyes said.

“But then aid from these agencies does not come with strings attached,” he said.

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TAGS: Church, Jaime Cardinal Sin, Morality, Pajero Scandal, PCSO, Religion, Social Issues
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