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Responses to joy

/ 10:03 AM December 03, 2013

Aslew of comments, from caustic to enthusiastic, flooded in as Inquirer readers reacted to the Nov. 30 column: “Slow Suicide.” This “Viewpoint” essay tried to place Pope Francis’ letter “The Joy of the Gospel” in the Philippine context.

“We do not live better when we refuse to share, cushioned by our our comforts,” Francis wrote in Evangeli Gaudium. “Such a life is nothing less than slow suicide.”

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The Pope says the church “failed to accompany women in their difficult times,” commented Eulogio Agunias. “I’ll be happy to hear from our local bishops, who are against the Reproductive Health law. Beyond rhetoric, have they contributed to alleviate such sufferings?”

“Pope Francis came not to bring peace but a sword” wrote TinimbangNgunitKulang. “(Some) priests were lulled into peaceful slumber, unmindful of the situation of the flock… It’s time to make them uncomfortable so they can again think and feel.”

Was it Max Beerbohm who wrote about “disturbing the comfortable and comforting the disturbed?” responded Walter Paul Komarnnicki.

“What a breath of fresh air, this Pope Francis is!” Evelyn Opilas e-mailed from Sydney, Australia. Evangeli Gaudium spurs questions like: “What steps would the Church take to limit the adverse effect(s) of extra-marital liaisons such as population increase, economic hardship in many cases among ‘original’ families, etc.

“Many Filipinos don’t seem ‘disturbed’ by these anymore” she added.” Perhaps, the survey on family life and sexual ethics will trace the roots. That would usher in a paradigm shift for many/ most /all Filipino Catholics.

Reading “The Joy of the Gospel” letter is a “must” for laymen and Church hierarchy, whose next leadership looks promising! (I hope.)” added Basilo Onisisa but Ryan E compares “the views of our Catholic bishops’ conference with that of the Pope’s. ”The difference is 180 degrees,” he claims.

Not so, writes bgcorg. A unifying theme of the “The Joy of the Gospel” is the seamless authority between bishops and pontiff. Bishops consider the local condition of their churches and can speak. Catholics who hold fast to the CBCP’s position are not against the new “aggiornamento” of Pope Francis. “I don’t think the Bishop of Bacolod and Archbishop of Lipa, from where they stand, are out touch with people’s lives.”

The debate in the Philippines, sparked by Pope Francis letter, is welcome, Manuel de la Torre e-mailed from Idaho in the US, Note, this debate is worldwide. History professor John Fea of Pennsylvania’s paper on 10 reasons why “evangellcals” should listen to Francis is relevant.

“Evangelii Gaudium” offers a defense of the family that is more sophisticated than what evangelicals of the 1970s mounted. He describes a “profound cultural crisis” facing the family: from parents failing to pass the faith to their children to erosion of marriage. ”This is a pro-family message that evangelicals can believe in.”

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The letter calls for a Spirit-inspired evangelism. “Billy Graham could not have put it any better. If the Catholic Church takes Francis seriously, we evangelicals may have some competition on the street corner.” Evangelicals and Catholics will continue to have theological differences. But we will find some common ground in what Francis teaches.

“This is another bombshell by the Pope”, e-mailed Virgo. “The Church is not a tollhouse,” he says. “It is the house of the Father, where there is a place for everyone.” True enough. (That) includes those who don’t literally follow what their bishops command but heed the dictates of their conscience.

“Did you hear that, Bong, Johnny, Jinggoy, Bongbong and Co?” the Viewpoint column asks, wrote Cry_Freedom. “The answer is a resounding no. How could they? They can not afford to listen. All they hear are the bells and whistles of ambition, and the ‘kalansing’ and jingles of monies in their pockets. And could I ask a question please. Does “and Co” include Jejomar (Binay) and extended clan?

Please pardon my skepticism, adds John Lagrimas. ”I agree that when the Pope speaks, still people listen. But do they obey? One case is the use of contraceptives. The Pope presented some insights on its essential use (but broadened his teaching to other issues.) But do our bishops heed?

Nobody bothers when other religious leaders like Eraño or Quiboloy speak. But the Pope still disturbs the conscience of others, even non-Catholics. “This is quite mysterious yet revealing.”

Bishops and pastors should not listen only to those “who would tell what they would like to hear.” Use Canon Law to broaden pastoral dialogue. Francis cautions against “ostentatious preoccupation with liturgy and doctrine.”

More pressing is the need to ensure that the Gospel has “a real impact” on people and engages their present needs, especially of the poorest. “Pakinggan at sundin ninyo sana ito,” Bruno Giordano tells some “Damaso” Catholics. “It would be great if you heeded this counsel.”

“Jesus was /is down- to-earth. Pope Francis is down-to- earth,” Kino e-mailed. “What happened in between them? Those in between them were/are in ivory towers.”

The Marcos family goes all out against the RH law, adds RudeWell. But do they heed conscience when it comes to ill-gotten wealth? That is true of the Arroyos too. And wasn’t there a bishop who asked for Pajero gifts? “Should we give them mercy without justice? Or should we say: may God bless you, very, far away from us, Filipinos.”

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