(EMBARGO, March 14, 2008 .)
TOWARDS A MORALLY REBUILT NATION
(Pastoral Statement of the Archbishop, Bishops of the Ecclesiastical Province of Manila
composed of the Archdiocese of Manila, the Dioceses of Antipolo, Caloocan, Cubao, Imus,
Malolos, Novaliches, Parañaque, Pasig, San Pablo, the Apostolic Vicariates of Puerto Princesa
and Taytay, and the Military Ordinariate.)
Today we are experiencing a social and political mess. This however goes beyond the
question of truth to the search for probity. Probity is about the integrity of all, the accuser
and the accused. We are unhappy and we feel betrayed. And yet as Pope Benedict XVI
reminds us “in spite of our great disappointment our great hope can only be God who has
loved us and continues to love us to the end, until all is accomplished”, (Spe Salvi, 27).
We also know that together we have the capacity to correct and purify the nation by
starting with ourselves.
The Model for Change is the Desert.
The history of salvation teaches us that the long road to freedom inevitably passes
through the desert of purification and conversion. Having escaped from Pharaoh, via the
miraculous crossing through the Sea of Reeds, the Israelites considered themselves
liberated. But they were not yet free, because they wanted to go back to their old ways in
Egypt. “Should we not do better to go back to Egypt?” (Numbers 14:2-3).
The chosen people hesitated at the shores of the Sea and remained enslaved. So Moses
led Israel away from the Sea of Reeds, and they entered the desert of Shur. (Exodus
15:22) Believing that Pharaoh was the idolater refusing them the worship of the true God,
it was in the wilderness where the people discovered that they too were guilty worshipers
of golden idols. (Exodus 32:1-29). People were disciplined and converted from their
greed (Exodus: 17-21); and the desert which the Israelites feared to enter became for
them a place of purification, discipline and conversion, before they could enter the