Bernardo M. Villegas
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Reasons to Stay and Fight (Part 2)

          Bishop Barron looks back at the history of the Church since Jesus Christ founded it more than 2,000 years ago.  Using both scriptural accounts and those of historians, he shows that “we have been here before in our history and we’ve survived; everything you love in the Church is still present and is worth defending; there is a path forward.”  He is certain that this explosion of wickedness has been the devil’s masterpiece.  To quote him: “The storm of wickedness that has compromised the work of the Church in every way and that has left countless lives in ruins is just too ingenious to have been the result of impersonal forces alone or merely human contrivance.  It seems so thoroughly thought through, so comprehensively intentional,…just too exquisitely designed.”  The whole sordid affair was indeed a diabolical masterpiece.  But those who still have a minimum of the theological virtue of faith have to remember that Jesus said that the gates of hell would not prevail against the Church. It may seem that the powers of darkness seem triumphant.  But the Lord promised us that He would never leave us, even until the end of the age.  It would not be right for us to give up hope.

         Lest we think that the corruption of priests and bishops is unique to our time, we should recall one of the wittiest rejoinders in the history of the Catholic church.  The Emperor Napoleon is said to have confronted Cardinal Consalvi, the Secretary of State to Pope Pius VII, boasting that he, Napoleon, would destroy the Church—to which the Cardinal deftly responded, “Oh my little man, you think you’re going to succeed in accomplishing what centuries of priests and bishops have tried and failed to do?”  Another evidence that the Church founded by Christ is indestructible was proffered by the twentieth-century Catholic writer Hilaire Belloc.  In reference to the moral and intellectual quality of the Church’s leadership, Belloc pithily remarked: “The Catholic Church is an institution  I am bound to hold divine—but for unbelievers a proof of its divinity might be found in the fact that no merely human institution conducted with such knavish imbecility would have lasted a fortnight!”

         In fact, Filipino Catholics are very familiar with the two lecherous priests in the novels of Jose Rizal, Noli Mi Tangere and El Filibusterismo—Fr. Damaso and Fr. Salvi.  Although they are only fictional characters, it is highly probable that Rizal was familiar with real cases of sexual misbehavior of some of the Spanish priests during the Spanish colonization period.  I know for a fact in the biography of my maternal grandfather, General Miguel Malvar—the last Filipino General to surrender to the American forces during the Philippine Independence war at the turn of the twentieth century—that Lolo Miguel first got into the bad graces of the Spanish authorities because he criticized the parish priest in his town, Sto. Tomas, Batangas for having an adulterous affair with the wife of one of our distant relatives (in that small village at that time everyone was related to everyone else!)

         The only reasonable reaction of a Catholic who believe in the divinity of Christ and the indestructible institution that He founded is to “stay and fight.”  Bishop Barron has marked out the battle front: “Fight by raising your voice in protest; fight by writing a letter of complaint; fight by insisting that protocols be followed; fight by reporting offenders; fight by pursuing the guilty until they are punished; fight by refusing to be mollified by pathetic excuses.  But above all, fight by your holiness of life; fight by becoming the saint that God wants you to be; fight by encouraging a decent  young man to become a priest; fight by doing a Holy Hour every day for the sanctification of the Church; fight by coming to Mass regularly; fight by evangelizing; fight by doing the corporal and spiritual works of mercy.”  I have no doubt that many Catholics in the Philippines will react the way Bishop Barron advised the followers of Christ who are always on the winning side. The best way to be a disciple of Jesus right now is to stay and fight for the Church.  For comments, my email address is