Echoes from SJI-6 | The Daily Guardian


WHEN the financial strangulation scheme against the priests failed at great inconvenience to church goers, the IMBOT put on more pressure by imposing a curfew to telegraph the message that they were in control of what they claimed to be their property and the priests were mere non-paying boarders and are adolescents needing discipline. This act is oppressive and unmindful of the function of the priests. As I wrote earlier, the priests are on 24/7 service because there are situations beyond human control.

The appeal of the priests to be allowed to return to their convent for the night was rejected. What was the excuse? The curfew order that seemingly does not allow exemption under any situation, including the personal appeal of the bishop who had to rush to the school to plead for his priests. The presuming or we can even say illegal occupants of the board had become supremely arrogant. That the incident had to be recorded in a police blotter does not speak well of the kind of leadership that has taken over the school and yet claims to be Catholic. Their actuation deserves non-recognition of SJI as a Catholic school for insulting the head of the domestic Catholic Church.

Rumors about the financial covetousness of the diocese took a faster pace and the voices of the anti-diocese rose more vociferously as the meetings ended nowhere a resolution. The series of dialogues turned out to be exhibitions of behavior that educated people should not publicly display or how a Catholic should not behave before a bishop, the Catholic’s spiritual superior. That show of hostility speaks more than all the arguments uttered in the meetings that take the form of an Indonesian shadow play. Indeed the behavior of the anti-diocese alienated rather than generate intelligent and independent support; in fact it caused me to investigate and write the series of articles on the issue. Slowly but inevitably that support dwindled as their manners and facts emerged publicly.

The intransigent demeanor clouded reasoning. Rightly did the diocese issue that Circular on its position. The contents, unfortunately had not been discussed enough to counter the IMBOT campaign so that the diocese initially lost to the anti-diocese propaganda machine among many non-partisans. While there was a Communications Group formed to present and defend the position of the diocese, the propaganda machine rode roughshod over the diocese’ side. Falsehood is more salacious.

Although its legal status is dubious, the IMBOT proceeded to grab insidiously the SJI properties by alienating the diocese. Thus I believe it decided on wrong assumptions. They apparently thought that the diocese had already failed to assert its right of ownership and would not pursue its claim – wrongly interpreted as weakness. The boldness of the IMBOT was clearly anchored on this premise.

Indeed while the diocese insisted that it owns the lands and properties on them, it did not take legal action; worse the diocese recognized and dealt with them as trustees. Recognition can be presumed admission of the legitimacy of claimed right. By dealing with them without questioning their status under the SJI Articles of Incorporation the diocese in effect recognized them as legitimate occupants of the board.

Nevertheless, the Circular on this controversy makes a vital point clear – the diocese was not taking the case to court but neither is it abandoning its right. Indeed, the Circular did not even insinuate abandonment or surrender to the illegal occupants.

When the dialogue failed, as it was certain to fail considering the facts we now know, Bishop Buzon exercised an authority that most people never heard of before – an Interdiction of the Queen of Peace church while the parish remained. This power was never exercised in the diocese since during our lifetime and thus the IMBOT was never aware of the existence of this grave ecclesiastical censure.

The IMBOT must be so ignorant of this ecclesiastical power that it failed to grasp its implications in the Circular. Instead they stepped up their hostile and abrasive propaganda, trampling on the respect due to the bishop and yet they claim to be Catholics. Do they realize the gravity of this affront? I think they underestimated the Church.

The Church shook off the dust of SJI from its sandals, as Christ told his apostles to do if they are unwanted. This is a worse censure.

Continued on Monday.

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