DOES HE truly believe that the presidency is a higher calling than the priesthood? That gaining material prosperity for 90 million citizens is more pleasing to God than saving one single soul from going to hell?
The priests who ran for public office in Latin America at the height of the fad called liberation theology have realized, or will soon realize, that Christ’s kingdom can never be fully realized through social action alone.
"The poor will always be with you," Christ said, which I interpret to mean that our ultimate purpose in life is not to make people prosperous but to save their souls.
Which is why I believe, honestly, that a parish priest’s work is infinitely more important than the work of the President of the Philippines , his entire Cabinet, the Senate and the House of Representatives combined.
If you want to help in the establishment of heaven on earth, then the best way to do it is to work for the salvation of souls, not to work in government where the best you can hope to achieve is to improve the material lot of people.
Listen to the Archbishop, Among Gob. The priesthood is worth more than the entire nation—even the whole world. Even if you think you can win, even if you know you will win, a small parish is still the most precious pearl of all. Even popes and emperors gave everything up for the chance to retire in peace and obscurity.
Then you’ll see: your legend will grow even more.
So wrote my younger – much younger – seminary brother Robby Tantingco in his Sun-Star Pampanga column a few days back.
If there is one truly constant and consistent backstopper to Gov. Eddie T. Panlilio, that would be Robby. Most often, the position he takes on the governor and his acts ran in diametrical opposition to those I hold.
Nevertheless, this advocate of the promotion and preservation of Kapampangan – that is Robby, not Panlilio – is one among the very few Panlilio supporters who – in the words of the American President James Madison – "have not suffered a blind veneration to overrule the suggestions of their own good sense."
A really outstanding piece, Robby wrote there. Which elicited an equally good response from my Ars Latina professor, Dan Basilio.
He wrote in our email@example.com:
Kudos to you Robby. That was a magnificently crafted opus which eloquently synthesizes the profusion of thoughts simmering in my mind lately.
If he (Panlilio) is bent on throwing his hat into the presidential derby, as any literate bona fide citizen is entitled to do, then let him renounce his priestly status and shed the god-sent, god-anointed saintly image he has been so reluctant to part with, lest he be accused of exploiting his priesthood for political expediency and fostering that twisted notion that he is divinely inspired and charged with a messianic mission to reform the government. Intelligent people won’t buy that.
There is nothing wrong with being ambitious and visionary. Let him run as a secular person, let the people decide on the merits – or demerits – of his political platform, his managerial prowess and the qualities of leadership he displayed in his stint as governor of Pampanga, and not on any messianic or religion-tinted crusade of sorts. That way he will elicit more respect, sympathy and support from his peers. The Crusades and the inhuman atrocities committed in the name of God are better forgotten and relegated into the distant past.
My Sir Dan’s genius has not ebbed a bit through all these years. Wish I can write even only half as good as he does.
I cede this space for today to these my very distinguished Mater Boni brothers.