The Philippine Daily Inquirer's (PDI) editorial for today is entitled "Holy Innocent" in which the blurb suggests that Reverend Ed Panlilio return the money to the Palace. As I have earlier made clear Panlilio made himself walk a spaghetti thin moral tightrope when he accepted the money. So the legal step to be taken is to return the money. I would agree but as usual the Inquirer editorial has serious logical flaws and non-sequiturs!
First the PDI assumes that the priest is trained to be obedient. Possibly. But is Panlilio obedient to his bishop now that he is governor? I doubt it if he were he should have obeyed the Pope and not run for office. Thus we cannot really assume that Father Panlilio and Governor Panlilio are the same men now.
Also read this
"A pastor is bound by divine law. The politician’s actions, on the other hand, are permanently circumscribed by secular law. When the politician tries to be a pastor, the law becomes an obstacle to the higher purpose, but that is what the law is precisely supposed to prevent. The politician, being a public servant, is not meant to have the discretion pastors possess of invoking a higher law than the laws of man."
I have to tell the possibly agnostic Inquirer editors that everyone is bound by divine and even natural law!
Also the Inquirer editorial despite the supposedly libertarian orientation of the blurb actually suggests a limit on the preeminent practice of one's conscience (in this case Governor Panlilio's). Conscience cannot be limited by anyone on heaven and earth. A limited conscience means a man or woman is enslaved.
The Philippine Daily Inquirer has fallen into the trap of political convenience once more. Worse the Inquirer does get mixed up on what it means to be faithful to the truth and faithful to the law.
This reminds us that memorable scene in "Man for all Seasons" when Cardinal Wolsey, the Chancellor summoned Thomas More to Hampton Court to get More's explanation why he opposed the Chancellor of England in Council.
More placed his conscience above what political expediency and Wolsey's law would dictate.
To which Wolsey sarcastically asked More "You would like to govern the country with prayers?" More replied that he would, and Wolsey said "I'd like to see you when you try." Governing the nation with prayers means chaos according to Wolsey. And More said then you would have my prayers!
My only criticism of Panlilio is that he did not resign his Holy Orders and govern his province as a layman. Then he can share fully what moral dilemmas laymen in public office face in the midst of evil.
But perhaps Panlilio recalled the Reverend Dr Martin Luther King's famous line
"On some positions, cowardice asks the question, is it expedient? And then expedience comes along and asks the question, is it politic? Vanity asks the question, is it popular? Conscience asks the question, is it right?"
That is a question Ed Panlilio can only answer. In the end it is a matter of conscience.