QUEZON City, June 16, 2014—Half in jest, half in earnest, Manila’s charismatic chief priest aired doubts over the “Choose to be brave” slogan, encouraging the faithful instead to “be brave for the right reason.”
That battle cry, Manila Archbishop Luís Antonio G. Cardinal Tagle observed, has to be complete, given that lawless elements like muggers and burglars are also brave.
“In broad daylight, at night, in public, they are very brave. We don’t want these people, including those who dip their fingers in the nation’s coffers, to think of themselves as good Catholics whenever they read this slogan’s invitation to bravery,” he said.
He made this statement Saturday, June 14, in a forum hosted by the Diocese of Novaliches’ Santuario de San Vicente Parish and attended by various non-government organizations (NGOs), local leaders, and church volunteers. Also present were Novaliches Bishop Antonio Tobias, members of the clergy, and representatives of different government agencies and the media.
“Bravery is not enough. It must be coupled with nobility, integrity, honor, justice, fear of God, patriotism, and love of nature,” he said.
The courage of thieves and corrupt politicians, Tagle emphasized, is not the kind the Church dreams each Filipino Catholic of having.
The prelate regretted that many people often find it easier to be brave for the wrong reason.
“When it’s about cheating and corruption, they instantly become brave. What’s more, they become ‘creative’ … But when they are being called to be holy, they fold up, they get timid,” he pointed out.
According to Tagle, bravery and sanctity must go together.
The prelate noted that the Church is very much alive, especially on the parish level, with so many of the faithful volunteering as lectors, commentators, and catechists, and with the sacraments regularly being administered.
Tagle pointed out that the faith of the grassroots cannot be without the ministry of Word, the ministry of Sacrament, and service in charity, to the neglect of the other equally important concerns like the social ministry, social apostolate, and public affairs.
He shared, “I’m wondering why everyone wants to become lay Eucharistic ministers. We never run out of them, of lectors, and of choirs … Why is it that only a few get involved in the fight for human rights, social justice, environment, charity, and service?”
Tagle asked, “What are these people afraid of?” (Raymond A. Sebastián with reports from Mark Lloyd Ranque)