MANILA, Philippines – Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle denounced a culture of bullying, violence, and paninindak (intimidation) in his homily on Good Friday, April 19, as he stressed that silence is effective in the face of threats.
In his Good Friday homily at the Manila Cathedral, Tagle pointed out it was the shouting of the Jews that led to the crucifixion of Jesus.
"Si Pilato nakita niya dapat palayain na si Hesus, pero sa sigaw natakot siya. Nagpadala siya. Samantalang dumating sa punto, si Hesus, hindi na sumagot. Ang panlaban niya sa sigaw ay ang katahimikan – katahimikan ng isang tao na hindi na kailangang magdepensa sa sarili dahil nasa kanya ang katotohanan," Tagle said.
(Pilate already saw that he needed to free Jesus, but the shouting intimidated him. He was carried away. But it came to a point when Jesus no longer answered. His weapon against the shouting was silence – the silence of a man who no longer needed to defend himself because the truth is in him.)
The cardinal continued: "Sa mundo natin ngayon, dinaraan na rin naman eh sa sigawan. Unahan lang sa paninindak." (In our world today, people get their way through shouting matches. The question is who gets to intimidate the other first.)
Tagle, 61, recalled in jest the 1974 movie Patayin sa Sindak si Barbara.
"At ngayon kahit hindi pelikula, ganyan ang estratehiya – patayin sa sindak. Manindak ka, manindak ka, at mamamatay sila," Tagle said. (And now, even if not in the movies, that's the strategy – to kill through intimidation. Intimidate them, intimidate them, and they will be killed.)
"Pero alam ninyo, hindi napatay ng paninindak nila ang pag-ibig ni Kristo. Ang pag-ibig, hindi sinisindak. Ang pag-ibig, bumubukal, isinasabuhay kahit sa katahimikan," the cardinal said. (But you know, intimidation did not kill the love of Christ. Love cannot be intimidated. Love bursts forth, and is lived, even in silence.)
Challenge to the youth
The cardinal then turned to the youth – the center of this year's Holy Week rites at the Manila Cathedral, as it is the Year of the Youth in the Philippine Catholic Church. (READ: Cardinal Tagle on Maundy Thursday: Guide the youth, don't abuse them)
"Mga minamahal na kaibigan lalo na ang kabataan, mangako kayo ngayong Biyernes Santo, hindi kayo maninindak. Hindi kayo magiging marahas. Hindi kayo magiging bully sa inyong mga kaibigan at kahit kanino pa. Isipin ninyo, ang nagpapatay kay Hesus, mga naninindak. Pasigaw-sigaw lang. Ang ating Manliligtas, tahimik dahil ang katotohanan ang mananaig," Tagle said.
(My dear friends, especially the youth, make a promise this Good Friday that you will not intimidate others. You will not be violent. You will not be a bully even to your friends and to anyone. Remember that the ones who killed Jesus were the ones who intimidate. They just kept on shouting. And our Savior remained silent because the truth will prevail.)
Tagle's reminder comes as President Rodrigo Duterte hurls intimidating comments against the Catholic Church, ordering the murder of "useless" bishops and blasting abusive priests. (READ: Duterte said kill the bishops – and his word became flesh)
A internationally renowned preacher with his own television show, the cardinal instead uses homilies to stress Christian values, such as active non-violence, that directly or indirectly tackle current events.
One of the last times he issued a statement about Duterte was in June 2018. That was when he urged his priests to stay calm and not to "be distracted" from "other pressing concerns" in the face of Duterte's tirades against God.
Denouncing fake news
One of the other problems facing the Philippines is the spread of fake news and fake identities online. Tagle addressed this in his homily on Good Friday.
He said impostors, for instance, have created 4 Facebook accounts under his name, while online propagandists peddled fake news in 2018 that he has died "in Cardinal Santos Hospital, surrounded by his loved ones."
"Nakakalungkot po. Pati sa social media, kung anu-anong pangalan ang ginagamit. Minsan nga hindi pangalan eh. Kung ikaw ay totoo, gamitin ang pangalan mo. Huwag kang magtatago sa kung anu-ano. 'Hagibis?' Maniwala akong Hagibis ang pangalan mo? Kasi ang Hagibis, matapang. Duwag ka eh," Tagle said.
(It's sad. Even in social media, they use many different names. Sometimes it's not even a name. If you're truthful, use your name. Do not hide behind many different things. "Hagibis?" How can I believe Hagibis is your name? Hagibis is brave. You are a coward.)
He continued: "At dahil gumagamit ng ibang pangalan, nagtatapang-tapangan. Kung manira, kung bumatikos, matapang lang kasi hindi niya inaamin ang tunay niyang pangalan."
(And because they use another names, they pretend to be brave. And the way they destroy others, the way they criticize, they just become brave because they do not admit their real names.)
"Ang daming duwag sa mundong ito, at dahil duwag hindi marunong magmahal nang may katotohanan," Tagle said. (This world has a lot of cowards, and because they're cowards, they don't know how to love with truth.)
The cardinal said, "Ang umiibig, totoo." (The one who loves is truthful.) – Rappler.com
Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He obtained his MA Journalism degree from Ateneo and later finished MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at email@example.com.