THE Archdiocese of Cebu did it, and should be commended for giving the country and the world, at this point in history, St. Pedro Calungsod. Perhaps little, if at all, to the knowledge of most people how much the Cebu Archdiocese has been on the lead in unearthing this precious jewel from the 17th century and winding it through the tedious and stringent process of pursuing a cause at the Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints.
So scanty was known of Pedro Calungsod by Filipinos themselves even after his beatification in March of the Great Jubilee Year 2000. But once word came out that he was to be canonized in October this year, multimedia content about him spread like wildfire in just a couple of months prior to the canonization. It was mostly young people that found a peer in St. Pedro Calungsod who were mostly responsible in popularizing a new saint of the young by harnessing the enormous power of social media. The young saint literally conquered the pages of Facebook and Twitter.
Notably, on the forefront of disseminating the young martyr are Facebook pages the likes of “100% Katolikong Pinoy!” and “Youth Pinoy.” But Youth Pinoy is laudably credited for using new media such as the Pedrito dolls in getting the message across. On this note, CBCPNews reports from Rome that “aside from aiming to trigger a social media maelstrom and drum up interest in the canonization, St. Pedro Calungsod’s mini version, Pedrito, is intended to inspire kids to sainthood.” This, of course, did not sit well with some older Catholics like Philippine Star columnist Federico Pascual, Jr., who wrote: “The 15-inch-tall doll, which looks like a toy, trivializes the saintly attributes of our own San Pedro….(who) should not be treated and marketed like a Pinoy male ‘Barbie’. Some people, kids especially, might start regarding and handling it as a toy.”
And that precisely is the juxtaposition of Eilleen Esteban who heads of Youth Pinoy—that kids would rather someday dream of becoming a saint rather than a super hero. For her, “Pedrito is, for the most part, a new evangelization tool or a way of promoting St. Pedro in a non-traditional way.”
The ongoing 13th Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops is talking about “the new evangelization for the transmission of the Christian faith” in the face of current trends especially among the young the world over. The methods and tools that these young people are using to propagate St. Pedro Calungsod may actually be an emergence of a new culture that might be handy in defining the lexicon of the new evangelization.
Faith and Ideology
THE task of social transformation requires that we have a vision of the society we aim and strive to create. Such a vision can be very particular and detailed as to end and means, an ideology in the strictest of senses. The Gospel of Christ is not an ideology in that sense. It does not give a specific blueprint for economic or political development and neither does the Church as such. Individual Christians and groups of Christians can adhere to any particular ideology they believe is best to bring about the common good of society. But the Gospel nonetheless has plenty to say about their choice and practice of ideology. Simply put, it requires that they bring to bear on their ideology, infuse into their efforts to achieve it ends, the faith of Christ and its values.
Faith judges ideology: liberal capitalism, Marxism. In practice this means that values of faith must be the criteria by which to judge all aspects of one’s ideology, by which to guide and motivate one’s actions for social chance, not the other way around—ideology judging, guiding, motivating one’s faith. If this has to be said explicitly, it s because all too often ideologies are so absolutized to a degree that faith is made secondary and, worse, instrumentalized to serve narrowly ideological purposes (e.g. the gaining of political power and economic advantage by any and all means, ethical considerations making no difference whatsoever). This, when all is said and one, is basically what is wrong, for instance, with the graft-and-corruption that is so deeply entrenched in Philippine politics: it is making faith values subservient to personal, familial, or party interests.
Our present Holy Father has pointed out that “the church’s social doctrine adopts a critical attitude toward both liberal capitalism and Marxist collectivism. (Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, 21) Both are seen as imperialist, materialistic and manipulative of economic mechanisms. The crucial question is not “Which one is right?” for both are defective. It s rather “In what way and to what extent are these two systems capable of changes and updating such as to favor or promote a true and integral development of individuals and people in modern society.?” (SRS, 21)
The outcry against Marxist socialism in Eastern Europe is not a sign that the liberal capitalism of the West is ideal. We ourselves have experience the most evil features of the latter in our country. We re-affirm the Church’s rejection of liberal capitalism. Its practical atheism, which results from the insatiable desire for profit and has created its own morality—that what profitable is moral. The path of development for our country has so far been determined by the economic factor with a bias for the minority controlling sector of our society. The results are what we are today—one of the poorest in Asia with one of the most unequal distributions of wealth and income. (Acts of the Council, Nos. 368-372)
–Acts and Decrees of the Second Plenary Council of the Philippines, 1991
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