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Love and politics

Christian love is political. Charity — love of God and neighbors — if it needs to be effective should be political.

Reflection on the EDSA Anniversary 2023 delivered at EDSA Shrine on a symposium organized by Clergy for Moral Choice

Noong nakaraang election, palagi akong natanong: “Hindi ba dapat magpatawad ang isang Kristiyano?” Love your enemies, ika nga. No to cancel culture. Unity lang.

Tinanong ko ang mga Nanay at balo ng EJK. Makapagpapatawad ba kayo? “Hindi pa po muna. Masakit pa po. Pero kahit na handa na kami, sino ang aming papatawarin? Wala namang umamin. Sinong papatawarin. Wala din namang humingi ng tawad.”

Kaya naiisip ko, hindi talaga matatapos ang kuwento ni Marcos. Kahit na nais nating magpatawad, wala namang humingi na tawad. Wala namang umamin. Sino ang ating patatawarin?

I would like to say today that EDSA People Power is an expression of our Christian love. Yes, Christians are called to love, even our enemies. And to depose Marcos Sr. from power was our act of love for him.

It is not me speaking. This is what Pope Francis says in Fratelli Tutti: “True love for an oppressor means seeking ways to make him cease his oppression; it means stripping him of a power that he does not know how to use, and that diminishes his own humanity and that of others” (FT 241). When I was reading Pope Francis, I told myself that we did here in this holy ground thirty seven years ago was right after all.

And if there will be some oppressors who will follow him now or in the future, we should not hesitate to come again and depose him. Our Christian faith commands us to. If you say you are Christian, this is how we should express our love!

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There is a direct relationship between love and politics, between Christian love and political action. Pero parang hindi obvious at hindi tanggap para sa maraming Kristiyano. Maraming Katoliko ang allergic sa politics. When the Clergy for Moral Choice, religious communities and priests of other dioceses talked against corruption and systemic lying during the last election, many pious lay people and even clergy and religious themselves, charged them with “politicking.” This dualism between Christian love and politics does not help the way we live as Christians today.

Pope Francis says there is such things as “political love.” Sabi niya: “politics is the highest form of love inasmuch as it seeks the common good.” But even Pope Benedict XVI who has the reputation of being a politically conservative pope tells us that love or charity needs an institutional path, a political path. Doon sa Good Samaritan, hindi sana niya maliligtas ang taong tinambangan sa daan kung wala pang bahay-pagamutan kung saan siya iniwan pansamantala. Si Martin Luther Jr., isang Protestant preacher at rights activist noong 1960s, ay nagsabi: “Napagod na akong sumagip sa mga taong tinambangan sa daan. Ngayon aayusin ko naman ang daan para wala ng tatambangan pa rito.”

Christian love is political. Charity — love of God and neighbors — if it needs to be effective should be political. That is why we are here today. We are here not out of hatred. We are only fulfilling Jesus’ command to love.

Father Daniel Franklin Pilario, C.M., is a theologian, professor, and pastor of an urban poor community in the outskirts of the Philippine capital. He is also Vincentian Chair for Social Justice at St. John’s University in New York. The opinions and views expressed in this article are those of the authors. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of LiCAS News or its publishers.

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