independence of judges and lawyers central to the protection and
promotion of human rights, the rule of law and democracy in Asia
A Statement by the Asian
Human Rights Commission
April 15, 2013
following is a statement issued by a group of Asian jurists, who met
from 9-11 April in Bangkok, to discuss about threats to professional
freedom of lawyers and the independence of the judiciary in Asia.
Jurists from Sri Lanka, India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Burma,
Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines, South Korea, Vietnam, and Hong Kong
attended the consultation. The Asian Human Rights Commission along
with the Lawyers' Collective of Sri Lanka organised the consultation.
On 11 April 2013, the Government of Bangladesh arrested the Interim
Editor of a Bangla daily, Daily Amardesh, Mr. Mahmudur Rahman. When
the police produced Rahman before the Dhaka Chief Metropolitan
Magistrate's Court, he reportedly said: I know well that if I appoint
any lawyer, he or she will submit prayers for my bail and cancellation
of the remand prayer foolishly. The court will act on whatever
decision comes from the government.
This statement and its insight concerning the absence of judicial
independence are unfortunately resonated in most of Asia. The public
perception in Asia is that, in matters where the government is keen in
persecuting a person, the government dictates the courts to be biased
in favour of the executive, and hence the courts cannot act
The expectation, that the judiciary is to act independently and
impartially at all circumstances, has eroded in most of Asia. This has
led to a distrustful outlook about judicial independence in Asia. The
spread of such a viewpoint is the reflection of massive changes that
have already taken place or of conditions that have not improved in
Asia, that poses serious threats to the independence of the judiciary
and the rule of law itself in the region.
The participants expressed serious concern about the threats to the
judiciary, arising from different sources and sometimes reflected by
the internal changes within the judiciary itself. The unanimous view
of all the participants is that, the independence of the judiciary
must be taken up as a major concern in Asia, and that it must be
reflected in the interventions by the international community,
including the United Nations in its efforts that are undertaken to
promote and to protect human rights in Asia. Protection of human
rights is seriously undermined and threatened, when citizens cannot
expect their courts to act independently, and to guarantee individual
Concern about the absence of adequate protection for judges, lawyers,
and litigants was a major sentiment expressed throughout this
consultation. The participants felt that, a citizen commencing the
path of seeking justice through courts, is exposed to serious threats
to his or her life, liberties and to property. A citizen also has to
take into consideration the threats that lawyers themselves are being
exposed to, and the possible unwarranted influences that may affect
the judiciary from acting independently.
Many examples of threats were cited; faced by lawyers, judges and
often litigants and witnesses, when they resort to litigation.
The following is a list of concerns expressed by the participants: (i)
threat of disenrollment of lawyers; (ii) actions of contempt of court
against litigants and lawyers; (iii) attempted abduction of lawyers,
witnesses and litigants; (iv) absence of investigation by the police
on complaints of threats and intimidation of lawyers and litigants;
(v) fabrication of criminal charges against lawyers, litigants and
witnesses; (vi) illegal arrest and custodial torture of lawyers,
litigants and witnesses, in which, often even on complaints, courts
are unable or unwilling to promptly intervene; (vii) close
surveillance by state agencies of lawyers, judges and litigants, that
violates privacy and privilege of professional communications; (viii)
lawyers who are employed in government as well as private sectors
restricted from freely exercising professional freedom; (ix) organised
vilification campaigns of lawyers and judges by state and non-state
actors; (x) intimidation of judges by arbitrarily transferring them
repeatedly or promoting judges tainted with corruption overlooking
seniority; (xi) internal as well as international travel restrictions
imposed upon lawyers.
The above list is not exhaustive. Lawyers who dare to challenge the
smothering of professional freedom risk the loss of practice and
Analysing a recent example, extensive discussions were held on the
impeachment of the Chief Justice of Sri Lanka, Dr. Shirani
Bandaranayake. The Government of Sri Lanka abruptly removed Justice
Bandaranayake from service, when a Supreme Court Bench led by her
delivered judgments that were unfavourable to the government. The
illegal removal of the Chief Justice from office, without adhering to
universally approved fair trial guarantees, itself is a stark
expression of the threats that the judiciary is exposed to while
trying to discharge their duties independently. The dismissal of the
Chief Justice also strongly indicates selection processes, where
persons willing to sacrifice the independence of the judiciary in
favour of the executive, are preferred by the government in such
The participants highlighted the centrality of the independence of the
judiciary to ensure the protection and promotion of human rights.
Efforts to promote the rule of law and democracy are inseparable from
judicial independence in Asia. Fundamental to this is the elimination
of all threats against the exercise of professional independence of
It must be restated, that the role of the magistrate, is to protect
the individual from undue interferences from the executive. This
mandate is seriously undermined when the executive makes all efforts
to subjugate magistracy to its administrative writ.
Lawyers are officers of the court. Threats to lawyers are threats to
the independent operation of the judiciary. When the executive
prevents, the possibility of citizens with grievances against the
executive seeking redress through courts, the very notion of the
separation of powers is jeopardised and negated.
The executive, to undermine judicial independence, denies the
judiciary adequate resources. In all Asian states, there are serious
complaints, from the judiciary and the general public, that necessary
budgetary allocations are not provided to judicial institutions. This
has hampered seriously the efficiency of these institutions. In India
for instance, this has led to delays in adjudication, that a case
today takes more than a decade to complete, rendering the concept of
justice itself a misnomer.
The participants further expressed serious concerns about judicial
corruption and accountability. In most Asian states, the judges face
serious allegations of corruption. In Bangladesh for instance, judges
openly demand and receive bribes. In most of Asia, an independent
oversight mechanism that could investigate into judicial corruption
does not exist. Often judges themselves prevent the creation of such
The participants affirmed that in Asia, judicial independence as a
subject of discussion is to be brought to the forefront of national,
regional, and international debates. This, the participants confirmed
is the most urgent requirement, without which all discussions about
protection and promotion of human rights, on prevention of corruption,
and on democracy and the rule of law would be meaningless. The
participants urged that the international community, including the
United Nations – particularly its human rights mechanisms – should
prioritise the need to protect the rights of the people to seek
judicial protection and to obtain it within a framework of justice and
The participants reiterated that if there is failure in ensuring
judicial independence in Asia, then, much of the global efforts to
promote the rule of law, democracy, and human rights in Asia will not
render any practical and tangible results. Without a concentrated
effort to ensure judicial independence, the participants expressed
fear, that the people living in states where the judiciary does not
enjoy the independent status it disserves, will continue facing huge
stumbling blocks in the realisation of universally accepted
fundamental human rights guarantees, most importantly of dignity,
equality and freedom.
The participants urged that the international community, including the
United Nations, should acquire adequate knowledge about the threats
posed to the independence of the judiciary and to the lawyers in Asia.
The participants further reiterated their concern, that today, the
issue is not adequately addressed regionally and internationally, and
called upon the states and all other international as well as regional
entities, having their influence in Asia, to develop bilateral
policies with Asian states where threats to judicial independence is
considered as a matter of utmost urgency.
The participants emphasised, that there is much to be done, by Asian
lawyers and judges, in order to promote their own concerns about
professional independence. The participants affirmed that more
discussions like the one held at Bangkok need to take place within
domestic jurisdictions. They urged, that to realise this, Asian
jurists should come together, and pursue the development of the
institution of justice as a common cause in Asia.
The participants reiterated that it is the duty of Asian jurists to
demand policy changes from their governments, so that states give
priority to the advancement of justice and to the development of
domestic institutions' capacities to deliver justice. The participants
are unanimously of the opinion that towards the above end, a network
of lawyers and judges - siting and/or retired - should be developed in
Asia. This network should lead the way to bring the discussion of
independence of judges and lawyers to the forefront.
As a matter of priority, this network should develop capacities to
assist lawyers and judges who face threats. Each case of threat to
professional freedom needs to be expeditiously documented and shared
with others within the country as well as internationally. With
adequate utilisation of modern communication facilities, such sharing
of information could be done without incurring exorbitant costs.
Towards this, lawyers must be trained to document the treats they
face, meticulously and with the greatest possible details.
The practice of such documentation and dissemination of information is
inadequate in Asia so far. The participants opined, that the quality
of the documentation and its widest possible dissemination seeking
interventions, whenever professional independence of either the
judiciary or that of the lawyers are under attack, could be a game
changer to the existing conditions dominated by fear and isolation in
Asia. Besides, practical steps should be developed to assist persons
facing threats, for instance, by ensuring protection of lawyers and
judges under threat by safe relocation, whenever necessary.
The participants agreed to take active part in the development of this
network for protection of independence of the judiciary and that of
Vinegar shopper or
JUAN L. MERCADO, firstname.lastname@example.org
April 5, 2013
“Pinabili lang ng suka sa
kanto, pagbalik journalist na” (“Told to buy vinegar at the corner
store, he trotted back a journalist.”). That put-down reflects a key
concern of “Crimes and Unpunishment: The Killing of Filipino
Journalists.” Unesco and Asian Institute of Journalism launched the
It underpins weeding out of
bogus journalists from the Bureau of Customs beat: 408, under the
Arroyo administration, to 96 today. The “Customs press corps” then
equaled 408 provincial newspapers (32 are dailies). That was about
seven times foreign and local reporters accredited to Malacańang.
Commissioner Ruffy Biazon pledged to continue to weeding out hao-siaos
– fly-by-night journalists who doubled as fixers or P.R. agents.
“Isn’t it obvious?”,
columnist Boo Chanco snapped. “Most of those people claiming to
represent media are anything but?” Chanco counseled the then mint-new
Commissioner Biazon: Keep your nose clean. Then, confront those who
flaunt oversize “Press” credentials, even if they threaten you (Isn’t
the correct word “blackmail?)
“Most are from tabloids that
have no circulation. Past Customs officials tolerated this outsized
number of reporters because they hid dirt. Instead, confer with
publishers of major papers and network managers to help sift out those
who moonlight as fixers.“
“At the new customs port in
Sasa, Davao, “Friday boys” are known as warik-warik. They “list media
men for funding,” Jun Ledesma of Sun.Star Davao wrote. I “was also
told some can even facilitate release of shipments”.
Is a vinegar shopper a
journalist? In 1693, the dictionary logged in the word “journalist”
for the first time. This meant “a writer or editor for a news medium.”
Or “a writer who aims at a mass audience.”
Since then radio and TV came
on stream. The Internet burst into the scene in the mid-1980s. The
“[a]dvent of the new and social media has seen emergence of so-called
But “fixer” for customs
shakedowns has been never been among a journalist's task. And it is in
the Customs and politics, that we stumble across a unique Philippine
creation – and problem aside from notorious tabloid writers: the ”
Radio stations, abroad,
don’t have ”block-timers” then. Neither do Asean countries, like
Thailand or Malaysia. They claim to be journalists. In reality,
they’re “walk-in customers”. At any of 952 radio stations that the
National Telecommunications Commission oversees, with a shaky hand,
they plunk down cash for airtime.
With no questions asked,
they broadcast --- what? News and comment, they claim. Character
assassination or praise, for a price, their critics counter.
They “give us the opinion of
the uneducated that brings us in touch with the ignorance of the
community”, Oscar Wilde once wrote. The 2013 political campaign sees
blocktimer abuse scrape new depths.
Print media indicates what
is “paid ad”. This is published distinct from editorial matter.
Block-timers clam up on who picks up their program tabs. But those
praised – or shellacked – give a fair idea of who pays. Stations wash
their hands, by saying: “the program does not reflect the management’s
“Block timing is (also) a
primary fund-generator for provincial radio stations,” Melinda de
Jesus of Committee on Media Freedom and Responsibility noted earlier.
This proved to be the emerging problem for Kapisanan Ng Mga
Brodkasters as programs with little accountability proliferate in a
country that works by the revised “Golden Rule”: “He who has the gold,
A CMFR study found lack of
training and, even more significant, ethical sense. Some 25 percent
finished high school while 13 percent “had no record of educational
attainment.” There’s little, by way of training on objectivity,
balance, fairness – and avoidance of conflict of interest, as
journalism code of ethics provide.
Most “block timers” operate
in a moral wasteland, where facts are few and comments have a price
tag. “Where the carcass is, there the vultures gather.” Electronic
gunslinging is abuse. “Power without responsibility has been the
prerogative of the harlot through the ages,” Irish statesman Stanley
KBP found fault with the
no-rules-hold coverage in the Luneta hostage crisis. Fines were
imposed on major networks. “A mere slap on the wrist,” fumed the
Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism. Perhaps.
But this was a 180-degree
turn for KBP from the Chavez versus National Telecommunications case
of Feb. 2008. In that en banc decision, the Supreme Court, lashed KBP
for playing footsie, with the Macapagal-Arroyo regime’s gags on the
“Hello Garci” tapes.
KBP’s Radio Code now
prohibits open-ended contracts for “block-timers.” Identifying
sponsors of block time programs will increase transparency. But
implementation of existing measures – from certification that the
“block timer” adheres to KBP's code to monthly reports – has been
Indeed “our membership lists
remain porous,” observed a Cebu Press Freedom Week editorial. “We’ve
still to flush out hao-shiaos who flaunt press cards or block time
election after PNoy’s term nears its mandated end?
By CHITO DELA TORRE
April 4, 2013
Just this week, avid friends
of QN began eyeing on the 2016 presidential elections. Each has his
own early guess of who most likely will run for president, to succeed
the incumbent – “if election does happen,” says one.
Well, here was an early
speculation that the next presidential election will not come about!
What? No, the speculator did not mean that incumbent President Noynoy
Aquino will declare a third martial law (the first was declared by
Pres. Elpidio Quirino, and the second, by Pres. Ferdinand Marcos. He
explained from his own readings of the intertwining issues besetting
Philippine society today, that some constitutional processes, via
congress, will make that happen.
Of the possible candidates
for president, named by QN’s friends were incumbent Vice-Pres. Jejomar
Binay, Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas, and senators
Bongbong Marcos and Chiz Escudero.
The mention of Bongbong and
Chiz surprised everyone. To this circle of intellectuals, mostly
professionals (doctors, educators, and lawyers) while others are
either fresh college graduates who made good leadership records in
their own campuses during their studentry years and businessmen,
Bongbong will be a strong contender and Chiz will accede teaming up
with him. In fact at least two unidentical national movements, as
early as 2011, are campaigning for a Marcos-Escudero tandem, via the
So, how come Chiz will be Bongbong’s rival? The ideator offered the
strong explanation that PNoy will get Chiz into the Liberal Party,
and, anticipating an overwhelming Escudero victory in the May, 2013
polls on the strength of an LP powerhouse team which will most likely
send most of their bets to the Senate, PNoy will hold on to that and
proceed with a series of anchor infrastructure and coconut industry
projects in the Bicol region in order to power up an acclamation for
Chiz from among the Bicolanos themselves.
That region will then become PNoy’s strongest bailiwick, because the
rebels there will stand up as one for PNoy once that region starts by
2014 becoming the newest center of megastructures – including a boost
to the reinvigoration of the shipping industry there that will
facilitate the influencing power of the coconut industry, a move that
the previous administrations, since the time of Fidel Ramos missed
looking at very seriously.
The rebels, in a way, will benefit gradually from that innovative
move. The choice of Chiz as PNoy’s bet for the presidency will
diametrically frustrate all efforts of Bongbong. Even Bongbong will
see that as a brilliant move.
Bongbong’s Ilocos Norte will no longer enjoy its claims for further
economic prowess and that therefore, that province will lose a big
platter of electoral support which will come from Bicolano voters.
Bongbong will also be seeing the acrid future that the Waray region
will welcome PNoy’s move of fast-tracking development in Bicol and
therefore owe it to PNoy once they will see the link that with Bicol’s
emergence as a new development center, Eastern Visayas will very
closely benefit therefrom.
Well, according to this QN ideator, the massive boom in Bicol will
draw in more than 50 per cent of its manpower requirement, Bicol’s own
manpower being prepared for the resultant challenges and
responsibilities on that continuum. Not only that, Bicol will absorb
most of the agricultural produce in Region VIII – a radical correction
strategy that will eventually make Samar (for the most part of the
region) and Leyte a development partner of Bicol.
Our proponent here gave the Philippines-United States of America
partnership as partly a model for this, except that the Bicol-Waray
partnership building will inject insights from China’s successful bid
for economic power. Voila!
On the possibility of a no-election scenario, the civil society is
believed to reclaim the prestige it once had during the first two
years of the presidency of PNoy’s nanay, madam Corazon Cojuangco
Aquino. It will succeed in convincing the need for a charter change,
via amendments introduced in Congress, that will see the need for the
USA to keep Noynoy in power.
The quantum of reasoning offered for this proposition lies on the
possibility of North Korea and China teaming up in a well-calculated
war against the USA. The charter change will spell that out, while the
war threat is effective, or while war will actually occur. Calls for
immediate change will most likely be sounded out as early as during
the first week of legislative sessions following the May, 2013
elections. By then, more battle ships will ruminate the waters a
little off the Philippine north territory, and some beaches north of
Luzon will most likely be populated by war-ready American soldiers.
The name of Sen. Bong Revilla had been knocked down from their list of
possible contenders. Bong will not enjoy PNoy’s support, and so will
Jojo, that thus, they may even yield to Chiz, or, to PNoy’s extended
presidency, given these scenarios.
Against these nagging backdrops, the common tawo in the Waray Region
still plays a deaf ear. They are more excited about how much money
will top contenders for local posts will give every voter – not just
every family, or home. On a farther end, many farmers cannot spend
better time than thinking of how to recoup from losses in harvests
that rats, tayangaw and other pests have been stealing ahead. The
Department of Agriculture in the region has yet to come up with a
credible report on such losses. The National Irrigation Administration
also needs to explain why some of the irrigation systems that it had
built could not deliver water, accordingly, since the last years of
Gloria Arroyo’s presidency, while in a few areas – particularly in
Basey, Samar, some parts of its irrigation project has created
disaster, in a manner of speaking.
+ + + + + +
+ + + +
“We are for peace. But so long as U.S. imperialism refuses to give up
its arrogant and unreasonable demands and its scheme to extend
aggression, the only course for the Chinese people is to remain
determined to go on fighting side by side with the Korean people. Not
that we are warlike. We are willing to stop the war at once and leave
the remaining questions for later settlement. But U.S. imperialism is
not willing to do so. All right then, let the fighting go on. However
many years U.S. imperialism wants to fight, we are ready to fight
right up to the moment when it is willing to stop, right up to the
moment of complete victory for the Chinese and Korean peoples.” –
+ + + + + +
+ + + +
“No other profession demands more of human beings than being the Army
profession, when one embraces the profession of arms he is expected to
perform the supreme sacrifice a man can give his life” - Col. Jonathan
G. Ponce INF (GSC) PA.
Living the spirit
of Vatican II
By Fr. ROY CIMAGALA, email@example.com
April 3, 2013
MORE than 50 years after its
occurrence, Vatican II continues to defy the understanding and
appreciation of many people. In fact, it is attacked by two opposite
sides, from what we may call as the Right and the Left, the
Conservative and the Liberal.
There are those who think
that the ecumenical council betrays the spirit of Christianity, by
debunking a big and what they consider as an essential part of
tradition. These are the Traditionalists who are uncomfortable with
Masses said in the vernacular or a Church very active in human and
At the other end, there are
those who consider Vatican II as not doing enough to cope with the
demands of the times and the needs of modern man. They want to delete
some Church doctrines that to their mind are now obsolete if not an
obstacle to their ministry.
I suppose we can never
please everyone with anything that we do in this life. My consolation
is that even Christ, the very son of God who became man to redeem us,
neither pleased everyone. In fact, he was crucified by a good number
of the people, the leaders in fact of the people then.
But Vatican II is a great
watershed in Church life, a true gift of the Holy Spirit to make the
Church not only attuned to the dynamics of modern times but also and
more importantly, to make Christianity more deeply and widely lived by
each one and all of us together.
It was a comprehensive
effort participated in by a good number of Cardinals, bishops, other
clerics, theologians and other periti (experts), plus some lay
faithful and even observers from other sects who together tried to
discern what the Holy Spirit was prompting and continues to prompt the
Church to do and to be.
For centuries, the Church
had slowly and steadily gotten stuck with certain stereotypes that
needed to be dismantled. For sure, this process of renewing the Church
will always be a work-in-progress. Social, cultural and historical
conditionings that actually vary need to be reassessed from time to
This need for continuing
renewal will never end, since not only is the Church a living
organism. It is also one with a supernatural if mysterious source and
goal. There will always be tension involved in its life, and part of
our task is how to keep that tension healthy and constructive rather
Vatican II has made some
dramatic shifts of attitudes and ways of doing things. Where before
the laity were considered secondary citizens and the servants and
longa manus of the clerics, now the fundamental equality of all the
faithful – clerics, laity and religious – while respecting and
fostering the legitimate variety among them is highlighted.
The relationship between
laity and clerics is now better defined and keyed to the dynamics of
mutual generous and all-out serving of one another. Before, this
relationship highlighted the more prominent position of the clerics,
while the attention given to the laity leaned more to the minimalist
The universal call to
sanctity is stressed more in Vatican II. Before, sanctity appeared to
be reserved only to a few lucky individuals. Vatican II also
highlighted the lay spirituality, encouraging the lay faithful to be
consistent with their faith and baptismal commitment right in the
middle of the world.
This is a challenging part,
because while we can be impressed with the overflowing crowd in
churches on Sundays and other important feasts and solemnities,
actually the great majority of the people are still far from being
truly Christian and are in great need to be evangelized.
Thus, more lay people are
being encouraged to live out their Christian commitment to carry out
personal apostolate with their families, friends and colleagues at
work, grounding this effort on their daily pursuit for personal
sanctity through prayer, recourse to the sacraments, continuing
formation and ascetical struggle, etc.
The clerics are encouraged
to be generous in giving due care and attention to the laypeople. They
should be willing to be servants even to the point of washing the feet
of the people as exemplified by Christ himself, and why not, of being
crucified. That would indicate that they are really giving their all.
Vatican II demands everyone
to go beyond simply being nominal Christians and to be active and
living members of the Church, each one doing his part to the full in
solidarity with everybody else.
Besides, Vatican II has lot
to say about liturgy, ecumenism, education, family, etc. Let’s live
its spirit well!
Last hoorah for
By MARICAR TANGONAN
April 3, 2013
March 31, 2013 is the
official last day of Msgr. Romy Montero as the associate pastor at the
Our Lady of Pompei Church and Director of Filipino Pastoral Ministry.
After 8 years in New York, he will be serving San Isidro Labrador
Parish of Calbayog Diocese in Samar, Philippines as his next pastoral
Holding back tears and in
between smiles of gratitude, impromptu spiels in remembrance of Msgr.
Montero’s memories at Pompei were delivered by those whose lives he
Many thanked him and souvenir photos were happily taken
afterwards. The highlight was giving Msgr. Romy the parting gift or
“pabaon” of $15,000.00 from the Filipino Pastoral Ministry as a token
of appreciation for his service to the Filipino community of Our Lady
Maraming Salamat Po, Msgr.
Dizon cheerfully gives the parting gift or “pabaon” of $15,000
to Msgr. Montero from the Filipino Pastoral Ministry as a token
of appreciation for his service to the Filipino community of Our
Lady of Pompei. (Photo by RG Rigos)
Montero is surrounded by FPM members after he received his
parting gift. (Photo by RG Rigos)
Let’s be good
Fr. ROY CIMAGALA, firstname.lastname@example.org
March 21, 2013
Now that we are again into
exercising our duties as citizens to elect our public officials, we
need to remind ourselves to be good partisans.
To be partisan is
unavoidable among us as we try to choose our options in our effort to
organize ourselves as a people journeying in this world toward our
ultimate goal in heaven.
This is nothing to be
surprised about, and should not cause us some misplaced fear as long
as we live that aspect of our life properly.
To be partisan is a
consequence of our human condition. Since we cannot help but have
different backgrounds, preferences, views, etc., neither can we help
to avoid being partisan of what we think would serve our interests as
well as those of the others, or in fact, what would serve our common
We need to be respectful
though of the different and even conflicting opinions, and just try
our best to settle or resolve our differences in ways that are fair
To be fair and charitable
while being partisan can mean many things. It can mean always trying
to enter into dialogue instead of imposing one’s opinions on others.
That is why we need to promote anything that can enhance dialogue. We
need to hear all sides that have something to say about a certain
It can also mean the effort
to get a consensus when a variety of options is presented. As much as
possible we have to agree to a certain device or mechanism to arrive
at a consensus. In other words, the rules of the game should be set
out and accepted by all parties as much as possible.
Underlying all this is the
attitude of charity and understanding towards others. No matter how
strong we feel about views, ours or those of others – and indeed we
can be strong in our views in certain situations – we should never
lose this attitude of charity and understanding.
To be Christian about it,
what we need to do, more than just voicing out our views and
positions, is to pray and offer sacrifices before, during and after
expressing these views and positions. We need to understand that it’s
not only reason, much less, passion, that should be mainly used in
sorting out our differences.
We have to use the
theological virtues of faith, hope and charity, because these are what
are truly proper to us in our discussions as persons and children of
God. Reason and passion without these theological virtues can get us
nowhere but spiraling tension and conflict.
We should see to it that our
mind and heart be freed of any trace of resentment, anger and the like
during and after the exchanges. We should try to avoid as much as
possible illegitimate biases and prejudices, always keeping an open
mind and the attitude of quickness to understand, disregard and
forgive whenever some mistakes are committed by the parties involved.
What should ideally happen
is that greater love and understanding is achieved after the
discussion, and even after one’s position is outvoted or defeated.
Especially when the differences are merely matters of opinion, we
should not make a big fuss as to whether who wins or who loses. We
just accept what the consensus says.
And even if the differences
are serious matters of faith and morals, we should make sure that that
such situation does not entitle us to go against the requirements of
justice and charity.
While it’s true that we can
employ certain techniques and tactics of persuasion that can also be
strong and forceful, we should see to it that we don’t depart from the
sphere of justice and charity.
In fact, whenever we have to
assume a strong position we have to make sure that we also are
stepping up our eagerness to be most fair and charitable, only using
legitimate means even if they involve inconveniences.
In this regard, we have to
realize more deeply that we need to be vitally identified with Christ.
It’s the only way we can remain truly fair and charitable amid these
sharp and painful differences.
Vital union with Christ
would teach us how to be patient, how to see things in the context of
eternity, far from a narrow and shallow view of things and from a
knee-jerk reaction to issues. It would teach us how to be merciful
even as we try to go ahead with a strong and clear vision of things
and do our best to win our case.