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The Pacquiao apology

Rev. Eutiquio ‘Euly’ B. Belizar, Jr., SThD

By the roadside

 

IF I were to make a choice between being with a nice, perfect person (usually in his/her eyes) who cannot make a mistake and being with a grumpy one who knows how to say, “I’m sorry”, I’d choose the grumpy one any time. At the risk of disproportionately provoking LGBT readers, I say that Manny Pacquiao who recently rubbed them the wrong way has the best of both worlds: He is one nice person (if testimonies of those who know him are to be believed) and he is also a nice person who can apologize for a mistake. For it was truly a monumental mistake for him to have compared homosexual persons with animals and judged them worse. Surely no one but God has the right to judge anyone. Still, for making an effort to apologize I take my hat off to the Pacman. Those who do not think the apology is sincere should also apply the same rule on themselves: Leave the judgment to God.

Apologizing for a mistake, when done with God as primary witness, is truly admirable. First, it can only mean the person has humility or is capable of humility. Even the Lord has a special place for anyone who fits this specification. “Blessed are the poor in spirit,” the Master declares, “for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Mt 5:3). Humility characterizes the poor in spirit and this is what bends them most to dependence on God rather than on wealth or on fellow creatures. This humility, in turn, disposes the poor in spirit to obedience to God’s will. Second, to realize and accept a mistake or wrongdoing is a mark of courage. A person who can say “I’m sorry” is not only capable of humility but also of the courage to do what he ought. Third, a person who apologizes for having offended another shows that he/she has concern—call it care, call it love, as the case may be—for the person(s) wronged. For that alone the Pacman’s apology should be appreciated for its worth.

On the other hand, he has made a firm stand not apologize for his opposition to same sex marriage. Fortunately for the Pacman, he has plenty of Scriptural ammunition to support his position. When the Inquirer came out with an editorial, partially excoriating Manny Pacquiao for his fundamentalist adherence to a literalist interpretation of Biblical texts, I thought it had made a good point. Most watchers and experts on fundamentalism take that to be one of their weak points. (Incidentally it should sadden us that the Pacman who was once declared some sort of a Bible ambassador by the CBCP appears to have familiarized himself with Scriptures through non-Catholic, even fundamentalist, eyes. One wonders if any Catholic Biblical mentor, at all, had been assigned to assist him, and if not, why not?) But on second thought, I also asked myself how else but literally could one interpret the rather unambiguous texts in the Bible calling homosexual acts, in the words of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “acts of grave depravity” (CCC 2357)? The texts cited by the CCC alone, namely Gen 19:1-29; Rom 1:24-27; 1 Cor 6:10; 1 Tim 1:10, are too clear to admit of any symbolic interpretation. I suggest all Catholics, homosexual or straight, read them carefully. Or do we take as changeable the declaration of the Congregation on the Doctrine of the Faith, Persona humana, no. 8 saying that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered”?

Again I say that all believers, specifically Catholics, straight or homosexual, ought to draw from the resources of our faith for guidance on a matter such as this. For the straight among us, the Church counsels understanding and compassion. “The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies are not negligible. They do not choose their homosexual condition; for most of them it is a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided” (CCC 23 58). To the members of the LGBT among us the following challenge, that applies basically to all, is particularly summoned in their regard: “Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection” (CCC 2359).

Jesus sheds light on our right response. “Be compassionate as your Father is compassionate” (Lk 6:36). Jesus says “your Father”. He means that he wants us to share his sonship; he also means God himself is our model. The Father is compassionate which means ‘to suffer with’ because in the Son he suffers with us the frailties of our human nature. That is why we should not judge. “Judge not and you will not be judged. Do not condemn and you will not be condemned; forgive and you will be forgiven” (Lk 6:37).

Let me take a different but related route. Because Jesus is precisely the very revelation of the Father, we must learn from him when he says to the woman caught in adultery, “Neither do I condemn you” (Jn 8:11).
But, hey, that is not the complete quotation. Those of us who appeal for compassion and benefit from it need also to heed Jesus’ final but firm counsel to the adulterous woman: “Go, and sin no more.” (Jn 8:11).

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