Monday, July 17, 2006

Latin to the rescue

ONE lesson I learned early in life is that when there’s a typhoon
outside, one should better stay at home and do something productive.

At the moment, we have a terrible, ugly typhoon in the political
arena, made more vicious by the participation of some bishops.

We are told these clerics are not interfering in politics but are
simply exercising their pastoral duty of upholding and defending morality
involved in these crucial big issues in our political life.

This is something new to me. So, if one is not for the impeachment of
the President, or is for charter change, or is for some amount of mining in
the country, or is for legalization of some games of chance, etc., he is
acting immorally? Give me a break!

No wonder the Church is sometimes held in ridicule by some sectors
because of clerics’ views like these. I don’t think these clerics are acting
like fools for Christ. They are simply fools, period, of their own accord.

If there’s an effective way to harm the Church, it is when Church
leaders interfere in politics. They will be foolishly and unnecessarily
dividing the flock.

The issues involved are matters of opinion. We should allow people to
take any position their conscience would tell them. Or are these bishops
claiming their position in political issues is the only moral position?

One position may be better than another, but as long as one position,
no matter how inferior, does not go against faith and morals, or basic
human rights, it has to be respected. It’s part of the autonomy temporal
affairs enjoy.

In these matters, no one has the exclusive possession of truth or
justice or prudence, etc. That’s why it’s so repulsive to hear clerics speak on
socio-political issues as if they have that exclusive right to wisdom
and morality.

The Christian way to resolve these issues is already spelled out in
the Church’s social doctrine. That way is always marked by dialogue, norms
of prudence, charity, understanding, mercy, etc. It does not talk much
about coming up with specific positions, much less a partisan one at that.

Everyone is supposed and should be encouraged to be responsible in
coming up with his opinions. Everyone is supposed to respect others who may
not agree with his position. And everyone should refrain from involving the
Church in what are clearly human and temporal conflicts.

In pursuing socio-political issues, the lay people have to take active
and direct role. The clerics, because of the nature of our vocation, better
be more discreet, keep quiet, or just give out reminders for justice,
fairness, requirements of common good, etc.

Everyone would be happy with that. And that behavior of the clergy is
not fence-sitting, because the issues involved are not matters of faith and
morals, or human rights.

We have to be careful with those clever, plotting groups who want
their position to be strengthened by clerical endorsement. That would be a
clear case of an unhealthy clerical mentality among some politicians and

I keep on thinking about what is happening lately among our Church
leaders. I have concluded that there is indeed a typhoon outside, reason, even
common sense are suspended.

There is no use battling it out. We just have to wait until those
stupid cats and dogs run out of energy—and mischief. In the meantime, it may
be good to do something else.

Like reviewing Latin. Not only does it engage your mind more than
crossword puzzles and sodukus. It also gives us a sense of being grounded, of
being a part of a well-thought out system and culture.

Monday, July 3, 2006

Family and school

I WAS happy to learn recently of an American study that provides concrete data on the close relationship between our family life and the children’s performance in schools. Even if the data are American based, they are relevant since they can shed light on our local situation.

The study should alert us to ever strengthen our families, and to more effectively handle issues that tend to weaken our sense of family. We cannot take this responsibility lightly. We are facing difficult challenges in this regard.

According to this study, done by the Center for Marriage and Families, a part of the New York-based Institute for American Values, and covering a period of 35 years, the proportion of children raised in two-parent homes has dropped drastically.

From a high of 85% in 1968, this proportion dropped to 70% in 2003. Of course, the proportion of children raised in single-parent homes practically doubled, from 15% to 30%, for the same period.

The consequences are very disturbing. Marital breakup is associated with a higher incidence of anti-social behavior in the classroom for boys. Children from homes headed by their own married parents have the fewest incidences of misbehavior at school.

Students from non-intact families miss school, are tardy, and cut class about 30% more often than do students from intact homes. Parents in non-intact family homes appear less able to supervise and monitor their children.

Teen-agers from non-intact families are more likely to smoke, use drugs and consume alcohol. They are more likely to be sexually active.

Young people who have never lived with their biological fathers have the
highest odds of being arrested.

Children growing up without their own married parents are linked with higher rates of stress, depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem during the teen-age years. These problems reduce their ability to focus and achieve in school.

We have to see to it that in the first place our own families are strong and healthy, not only socially and economically, but also and more importantly, spiritually and morally. Then we can start reaching out to other families, especially those in distress.

We have to remember that family welfare is a crucial part of our common good. It should also be a part of our common concern. We have to help one another in this area.

Thus we have to learn how to organize ourselves more effectively to face the challenges. This can be done in the community level, or parish and school levels. Even professional and social associations can be tapped for this purpose.

Initiatives in this regard should be promoted. Continuing formation among couples especially about courtship, marriage and family life should be established. Counseling services should be made available.

We have to encourage everyone to give due attention to his or her family, putting in ample time with the children, and equipping him with skills to transmit proper values to children. This has to be done in a serious way.

The truth is that we are confronted with a lot of challenges. There are moves to legalize divorce that surely will undermine the family. There is apathy in the efforts to solve problems like infidelity, rise of illegitimate children, separation of parents due to socio-economic reasons, etc.

There has to be a more scientific effort to tackle the different problems families can meet. Church and government, as well as other non-government organizations, should give their appropriate contributions.