Sunday, June 01, 2008

Why the bishops need to sign up for Biology 10: CB CP backtracks on GM food, Catholic hypocrisy and the way out

The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines's (CBCP) Committee on Bioethics chaired by the Bishop of Malolos Jose Oliveros has this statement expressing optimism that the Vatican will endorse genetically modified foods if just to help ensure global food security.

The statement also says that unless the Vatican says otherwise the CBCP will remain opposed to genetically modified food!

But that doesn't match with the Vatican's neutrality on the issue until scientific data says otherwise. The CBCP has ignored scientific findings and has taken on the politically noisy and media grabbing NGO environmentalist bandwagon!

The Vatican has a much better sense of natural phenomenon and reality than the CBCP. Why can't we have a Pinoy bishop as razor sharp as Benedict XVI?

Nonetheless the bishops and priests really need to enroll in this coming semester's Biology 10 class. Here they will learn that genetic modification is not a new thing and that nature has been doing it since life started on the planet.

Best of all they will learn that a Catholic priest by the name of Gregor Mendel first laid down the principles how nature does genetic modification. Mendel exemplify best how a cleric can be a good scientist. Mendel never accepted unfounded conclusions even if this irritated his bishop.

CBCP's willingness to talk with advocates of GM foods is to be welcomed. But if the bishops themselves act as arbiters of scientific fact and truth then what is the use of talking?


Chairwrecker Billy Esposo has this to say in the Philippine Star about the Couples for Christ, Gawad Kalinga (GK) controversy.

Billy cites modern Pharisees as the root of the problem. What is a Pharisee anyway? The dictionary states that this Jewish school of thought emphasized strict interpretation of scripture. Christ had no nice words to say about them. Their strictness blinds them.

Anyway Billy wrote things that Pinoys must seriously consider

"It [the controversy] demonstrates the very reason why the greatest shame of the Catholic Church is to have a country like the Philippines stand out as the only predominantly Catholic country in Asia. No religion can be proud of a country where the 3 percent who own over 85% of the national wealth is unaffected by the misery of the poor around them. Does it not shame the Catholic Church that those who benefited from a Catholic education in this country have become the biggest plunderers?"

Until I spoke with a Catholic school alum in Australia, I never got the joke in the T-shirt print "I survived Catholic school!"

I myself came from a public school.

The bloke told me about the Pharisee bit. But that is precisely it. Until I taught for a while in a Catholic college in the Philippines, I then realized what my mate was talking about.

Catholic schools for the elite pride themselves on their "immersion" programs. But sadly this isn't enough. Students in these schools may reach out to the poor but their campuses are gated from the poor. The poor become mere reasons for a "feel good" attitude. The kind of separateness that Christ never liked.

The kind of immersion that all of us need to do is the kind that GK promotes. We start as small as possible, small houses, small but meaningful efforts to help and when all of these are added,it is big.

If each of one can just help one poor child in all his/her needs, then that would be a major difference. We who are better off will never be separate from this child.

Then Pharisees have met their end.

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