Among the top news this week is the revelation that former president GMA authorized the PCSO to grant bishops with SUV's as a donation to help them in their mission to help the poor. It seems like the approval of the president was not done from her own volition but through the request of the beneficiaries. As one bishop asked for the donation as a gift for his birthday, after all, the car that he had was already seven years old and according to him was no longer in good condition (and I had my last car for 15 years and it still served its purpose). Naturally, the news has received flak from the people especially when the constitution has mandated that no amount of donation should be given to any religion or its representative unless such is assigned to the armed forces, or to any penal institution or government orphanage or leprosarium.
No public money or property shall be appropriated, applied, paid, or employed, directly or indirectly, for the use, benefit, or support of any sect, church, denomination, sectarian institution, or system of religion, or of any priest, preacher, minister, or other religious teacher, or dignitary as such, except when such priest, preacher, minister, or dignitary is assigned to the armed forces, or to any penal institution, or government orphanage or leprosarium.
I will leave the law angle to my friend, Connie who is an expert in the field and has written all about it, rather, superbly in her own blog.
Suffice it to say that the bishops justify their action contending that the donation is not really for them but for the benefit of their flock - to facilitate reaching the far-flung barrios, maybe. They also contend that the Pnoy government is just trying to get back at them for their hard stand on the RH bill. The former statement got me to reflect. I have yet to see a bishop do real missionary work. There have only been a couple of times that I have seen an actual bishop in my lifetime and I have been schooled in a Catholic school and still teach in one. And in all these times, it has been in a church and only upon the invitation of the parish or diocese where they say mass and/or give confirmation. This led me to be a skeptic of their justification.
Besides, why an SUV in the first place? To give them the high stature their office represent? But what about the vow of poverty and simplicity? Sometimes, I get to thinking and I get disappointed. Wag na ngang mag-isip ulit.