POSTSCRIPT / April 17, 2011 / Sunday


Philippine STAR Columnist

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Just rename Libingan to end Marcos debate

HOT POTATO: Vice President Jojo Binay has been tossed a hot (actually cold) potato – the refrigerated cadaver of Ferdinand Marcos – and he is not quite sure what to do with it.

As Binay is not a sepulturero, it was unfair for President Noynoy Aquino to have passed the buck to him, asking him to decide whether or not to bury Marcos in the hallowed grounds of the Libingan ng mga Bayani (Resting Place of Heroes).

Now the Veep is frantically polling people to choose between Yes and No to the question “Should Marcos be buried in the Libingan ng mga Bayani?” The strongman died on Sept. 28, 1989, in Honolulu, and his body remains in cold storage in his hometown of Batac, Ilocos Norte.

Those being polled by Binay are asked to respond by texting 09267468212 (Globe) or 09496295575 (Smart) or by emailing I suppose anyone can volunteer his vote.

But you know how surveys – and even congressional votes — can be manipulated or bought. So how reliable will Binay’s survey be?

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RENAME ‘LIBINGAN’: Binay himself can be expected to cast a No vote, having been an acolyte of the late Cory Aquino who took over from Marcos after People Power drove out the dictator in February 1986 into more than three years of exile in Honolulu.

To rationalize his recommendation to President Aquino, I suppose Binay will point to the results of his surveys, researches, consultations and whatever else he might think of.

Another convenient way out, as suggested in an earlier Postscript, is to drop the “Bayani” (hero) part of the Libingan’s name. Hopefully, the resulting generic label will give partisans a reason to stop debating whether Marcos was a hero or a heel.

Readers may want to suggest other names for the Libingan to make the site less, or more, restrictive as resting place of fallen soldiers. Please add a short one-sentence explanation for your suggestion. And put your real name.

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LOVE SERVES: For our Sunday reading, we have an account by of the fourth Lenten homily delivered by Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa to Pope Benedict XVI and the Roman Curia at the Vatican.

The preacher continued with his Lenten series on love with a homily titled “Love Must Be Active: The Social Relevance of the Gospel.” (We will email the full text to those who want it. Btw, we are still getting requests for the third homily delivered last week.)

In his reflection, the preacher of the Pontifical Household said that one of the greatest gifts Christianity has given to humanity is the principle of service.

He noted that the first Christian communities were characterized by sharing: “What urged them to do this was not an ideal of poverty, but of charity; the aim was not to make everyone poor, but that none of their members should ever be in want.”

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CONCRETE HELP: Tracing the “need to translate love into concrete gestures” from the Apostle Paul to modern Christianity, Father Cantalamessa noted that the teaching follows the “example of the Lord, whose compassion for the poor, the sick and the hungry was never simply an empty sentiment but was always translated into concrete help.”

Christian charity, he noted, “was converted into specially created initiatives — and later, institutions — for the care of the sick, the support of widows and orphans, providing aid to prisoners, soup-kitchens for the poor, assistance to foreigners, etc.”

In 1891, he continued, Pope Leo XIII wrote the Church’s first social encyclical, titled “Rerum Novarum.” Other Pontiffs, including Benedict XVI, have followed suit, adding to and building up a “new form of ecclesiastical magisterium.”

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NEW NEEDS: Father Cantalamessa said, “The Gospel does not provide direct solutions to social problems. It does, however, contain useful principles by which concrete responses to different historical situations can be framed.

“Since social situations and problems change from one age to another, the Christian on each occasion is called to embody Gospel principles in the situation of the moment.

“This is precisely the contribution made by the social encyclicals of the popes. This is why there is a succession of such encyclicals, with each one taking up the subject at the point where the previous ones left off, (updating) the subject on the basis of new needs emerging in society.”

“One of the principles by which the Gospel has influenced the social sphere most decisively and beneficially is precisely that of service,” he said. “Not for nothing does it occupy an important place in the Church’s social teaching.”

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HE CAME TO SERVE: “Jesus made service one of the pivotal points of his teaching,” Father Cantalamessa said. “He himself said he had come to serve, not to be served.”

He explained: “Service is a universal principle; it applies to every aspect of life: the state ought to be at the service of its citizens, politics at the service of the state, the doctor at the service of his patients, the teacher at the service of his pupils, etc. But it applies in an altogether special way to the servants of the Church.

“Service is not, in itself, a virtue, but it flows from various virtues, especially humility and charity. It is one way in which that love which ‘does not pursue selfish interests, but those of others,’ manifests itself, and gives of itself without seeking any return.

“Service in the Gospel, unlike service in the world, is not the proper characteristic of the inferior, of the one in need, but rather of the superior, of the one who is raised high.”

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of April 17, 2011)

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