MANILA, Jan. 22, 2015—Admission is the first step to a solution.
By granting that corruption is also a reality that happens in the Church, a Catholic priest says Pope Francis shows a great deal of honesty and humility, and calls on those with questionable integrity to reflect on the the pontiff’s message.
“The corrupt must learn from him. But who would ever admit to such an abominable act? Hence, we have here a culture of impunity because the guilty continues to feign ignorance for robbing the poor and ‘killing’ their future,” Fr. Jerome R. Secillano of Nuestra Señora del Perpetuo Socorro Parish shared in reaction to a statement the Holy Father gave during a press conference on his flight back to Rome after a journalist asked his thoughts on fighting corruption in secular governments, as well as in the Church.
“Before everything gets out of context, the Pope clarifies that the Church he speaks of does not only pertain to its hierarchy, but to every baptized [person] who comprise the institution,” he stressed in an interview with CBCP News.
The response of the Holy Father, in an unofficial translation provided by colleagues, reads: “When I speak of the Church I like to speak of the faithful, the baptized, the whole Church, no? In that case, it’s better to speak of sinners. We are all sinners, no? But when we speak of corruption, we speak either of corrupt persons or of institutions in the church that fall into corruption. And there are such cases, yes, there are.”
“Let’s remember this: sinners yes, corrupt no, never corrupt. We must ask pardon for those Catholics, those Christians who scandalize with their corruption. It’s a wound in the church. But there are so many saints, so many saints. And sinner saints, but not corrupt. Let’s look at the other side, too, the church is holy. There are some here and there,” the Holy Father adds.
According to Secillano, who also serves as executive secretary of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP)’s Episcopal Commission on Public Affairs (ECPA), corruption may be committed by “just anybody or everybody” given that the lure of money and materialism are simply too hard to resist.
“The Pope is optimistic though, that there are still in the Church those who are capable of shying away from temptations to corruption. While that claim may be reassuring for some, let’s take it more as a challenge to live simply and selflessly with high regard for the poor among us,” he explained.
The Holy Father recently held a press conference aboard “Shepherd One” on his flight back to Rome from the Philippines. (Raymond A. Sebastián/CBCP News)