FOR sure it may not sound nice, but it is not too farfetched to advance that this 15th Congress will go down in history as the most harassed ever. While supposedly a constitutionally independent body, the members of this congress have been literally summoned by another supposedly independent body, the Executive Department, to Malacañang in just a period of about few months for one reason or the other, but always ending up rushing to Congress through hell or high waters, like lapdogs, to maneuver the immediate passage of the Reproductive Health Bill.
It may be said that this breed is a pitiful group. Aside from a president who maybe cartooned as dangling food to his puppies and doing a blitzkrieg to scheme an impeachment, some of them are under pressure, or say, harassed, by foreign countries and multinational companies who, according to reports, have been bankrolling them with lobby money, and therefore, are too confident enough to give deadlines when this legislation should be approved by hook or by crook.
Es lastima!, as the Spaniards would say. And it is even observable that during floor deliberations the very arguments that they tow come neither from their own patriotic convictions—if at all there is such a thing—nor from the needs and sentiments of their constituents whom they represent and, therefore, they should follow more than the moneyed lobbyists from pharmaceutical companies and other foreign entities.
By the likes of it, there seem to be a timeframe structured or dictated by foreign lobbyists. If such should be the case, then there is a plausible explanation why the rush to approve such a most contentious and unnecessary bill even at this 11th hour when, in fact, there are more pressing legislative concerns that should be attended to—not to mention other exigencies such as the ongoing calamity in Mindanao that Representatives had to set aside just to attend to the whims of a foreign-dictated legislative agenda—which, hopefully, does not smack of foreigners trampling upon the sovereignty of such an august body, that in itself spells disaster.
By cursory review, perhaps this is the only Congress and the only House Bill in Philippine history that has been too persistent and too pestering. And perhaps this is the only Bill that was not certified as a priority bill by the President, but is being pursued de facto by him and his lackeys more than any other priorities. But again, it’s a pity to see Congress harassed—even without them realizing that they are being had happily or otherwise.
Priesthood of the faithful
THE hallmark of this final decade, of the second millennium, will be the collaboration of both clergy and laity in a common vision and a common mission—thus presenting the Church as truly a sacrament of unity for the world. Since Vatican II there has developed a strong and frequent formulation of the doctrine of the common priesthood or the priesthood of all the faithful. All the faithful by virtue of Baptism and Confirmation participate in the priesthood of Christ.
All the faithful live Christ’s priesthood in three dimensions. First of all, they live it as a consecration, a commitment to God, established in baptism. All Christians are consecrated in everything they do. Secondly, as a mediation of the purpose or plan of God for the transformation and eventual salvation of the world. The grace of Baptism is completed by the gifts of the Holy Spirit received at Confirmation, enabling the Christian to be a real subject of transformation. And finally, as a sacrifice of life together with Christ celebrated in the Eucharist. The Paschal Mystery casts its shadow on Christian life and transforms the cross of suffering into a meaningful source of hope.
In view of this tri-dimensional participation in the priesthood of Christ by all the faithful, what then is the role of the ministerial priesthood, or the priesthood of the ordained?
The ministerial priesthood or the priesthood of the ordained must be understood as service to the common priesthood. It serves the common priesthood so that the whole Christian community will become the priestly people that Christ wants it to be, and “all who belong to this people, sanctified as they are by the Holy Spirit, may offer themselves a living sacrifice holy and acceptable to God.” (Presbyterorum Ordinis, 2)
All the works of the laity, when done in the Lord, whether secular or religious, whether they concern marriage and the family, work and recreation, pastoral activities, social and charitable involvements, or the animation or governance of associations, movements and communities, can be seen as exercises of the laity’s sharing in the common priesthood.
When the lay faithful discover and live more and more their vocation and mission in the Church and in the world, the ordained will likewise discover the meaning of their own vocation and mission. Such a discovery on the part of both the clergy and the laity who are called not to compete but to complement each other will result in a deeper realization of the ministry and spirituality of all the baptized.
Morally formed, religiously inspired and spiritually nourished by their pastors, the lay people go forth to renew the temporal order by engaging in secular activities with the spirit of Christ and the values of the Gospel. Thus, it can be said that Pastor and lay faithful share in the one Priesthood of Christ each according to the identity and role they have received from God for the Church and society. (Acts of the Council, Nos. 412-418)
—Acts and Decrees of the Second Plenary Council of the Philippines, 1991
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