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Bacolod City, Philippines Tuesday, January 16, 2018
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TIGHT ROPE
WITH MODESTO P. SA-ONOY
OPINIONS

Back to SJI dispute-2

Tightrope

SJI relishes the fact that it has a canon lawyer who specializes in marriage but even if he were an expert in all aspects of Canon Law his opinion is not ex cathedra as to declare that the decision of the Bishop of Bacolod “would not in accord with the Canon Law, it will also be arbitrary”. The term is loaded with meaning as it could mean the decision of the bishop was whimsical, capricious and even despotic with a side remark that practically considers the bishop to have violated Canon Law.

Adolfo Dacanay is a priest and even if he believes himself of superior intelligence and education as a Jesuit and a professor, he does not possess the fullness of knowledge as to be omniscient to know the mind and competence of Bishop Buzon. Of course, Dacanay saw the result of the Bishop's decision and probably drew his conclusion from partisan SJI view, but what of the causes and processes of that decision? How much does he know?

As a priest, was he not taught (Dacanay teaches Theology) to extend respect for the person and office of the bishop as to call the prelate arbitrary and had his derogatory opinion widely publicized? Worse, if he did not even listen to the side of the bishop on this issue.

For SJI to anchor its case on the opinion of one canon lawyer and unnamed “religious leaders” who apparently have not studied all the facts of the case, is indeed, pathetic and unfortunate.

There are hundreds of other canon lawyers and the fact that there are Church tribunals means diversity of opinions and divergence of interpretations of Canon Law. Moreover circumstances differ.

The bishop surely knows his Canon law as do his diocesan consultors and Presbyteral Council. The diocese has also lawyers. Add to this is their knowledge of the facts of the case and the behavior of the personalities involved.

Are the two Jesuits also lawyers in corporate and civil law? The SJI issue concerns not only Church law but mainly rooted in possible violation of civil, corporate and even criminal law.

These two Jesuits who were recruited by SJI, Frs. Joel Tabora and Dacanay, to fight their battle have apparently adopted the tactics of SJI - threatening Bishop Buzon that they will drag the bishop before the CBCP and even all the way to Rome if he didn't give in to their demands. Surely, these two Jesuits know their Canon Law but do they think the bishop does not, that they dared to threaten him and expect him to yield to their demands?

Are Dacanay and Tabora's terminologies not improper and discourteous conclusions issued publicly and in fact characterizes the attitude, manners and language of SJI during the negotiations - defiant, demanding, discourteous, vociferous and unbending? The diocese was willing to give the school that the diocese owned to SJl's board of trustees. But no, they want it all. The two Jesuits consider the bishop arbitrary and abusive; are the SJI activists a bunch of angels, victims rather than aggressors?

The two Jesuits concluded that “there is no basis for SJI to be declared a non-Catholic school”. How did they know? To repeat, did they study the case in depth as lawyers ought to before opening their mouths? Or did they listen only to the side of SJI? For the sake of their prestige they should tell the public.

For instance, did they talk to the Bishop, any clergy of the diocese involved in the case and the diocesans lawyers for them to say that the bishop's decision was arbitrary and abusive?

Tabora appealed to the Bishop that “in the interest of fairness and justice” SJI “should be accorded due process” and that “the withdrawal of the bishop's recognition of SJI as a Catholic school would not be in accord with the Code of Canon Law, it will also be arbitrary.” Tabora's statement is based on Dacanay's report. But on what did Dacanay base his report? Did he study all sides, every available documents? Note that Dacanay is speculating, unsure of his position, exposing a weakness.

Should an appeal use improper language?

Let us deal with this conjecture next week.*

           

 

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