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Bacolod City, Philippines Tuesday, March 6, 2018
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OPINIONS

Pope Francis on homilies

Ninfa Leonardia

So the Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections will really be held in May? And it’s about time, too, because a lot of the “Kabataan” heading the SK must be long in the tooth already after staying in their posts so long. And the proposal to require all candidates for either set to submit their resumés is a very good one, indeed. At least it will show how qualified those seeking the positions are, and their prospective constituents will be aware of both their capabilities and their backgrounds.

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And what about the national elections themselves where we choose our president, vice president, senators, congressmen and all our other officials? Are we sure it will take place also? I hope we will not be contaminated by what seems to be the tendency among world leaders now to aim for indefinite terms of office. China seems to be the leader, and the news that Xi Jinping might be allowed to be president for life does not sound like “fake news” anymore. And also the succeeding reports that America’s Donald Trump might be following in Xi Jinping’s footsteps.

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Of course our Digong has sworn time and again that he is not extending his term and that he is not really enamoured of his position. But who knows? Since he is quite friendly with Xi Jinping and also with Trump, he may be tempted to form the trio of presidents-for-life. Some reporters are already referring to Xi as an emperor, wouldn’t President Trump like that, too? And then they will be succeeded by their children, and their children’s children, and we will no longer be talking about dynasties but monarchies. And there will be no more election and campaigns and vote-buying, too.

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If you thought that being starved, physically abused and overworked were the worst being done to our overseas domestic workers, the latest revelations will shock you further. In Saudi Arabia, the latest reports say, they are even auctioned off, as slaves were during the time of slavery! I can just imagine the women OFWs, not only from our country, but from other Asian ones like, say, Indonesia, standing before an auction block, with their prospective masters bidding for them and the auctioneer shouting “Going, going, GONE!” What indignity! How inhuman!

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But it must be true, because the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines has taken up the cudgels for the workers who, apparently in their desperation to find a job, submit themselves to such inhuman treatment. This has also been confirmed by the Department of Labor and Employment, so what are we waiting for? By the way, there is a call for such OFWs to come home, but some are reluctant to do so, probably because they have to earn to pay their recruiters for the preparation of their documents and even for transportation. So it’s a vicious cycle. But what about the call of the government for those based in Saudi Arabia and Qatar to come home, will they be given the same benefits, like free transportation and job opportunities here as well?

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I am glad that there are still moves to adopt the constitutional convention or Con-con method, in the process of changing our Constitution. The proposal to use the Constitutional Assembly, or Con- Ass does not at all sound democratic, with only a selected few to decide on the changes that will affect us and the future generations. So what if the Con-con is said to entail more time and money? This is such an important move for our country that we should not be counting the costs, but the effects. I hope the pro Con-con members of Congress – both houses, that is – see their way to this.

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Meanwhile, it is good to know that the Church, aside from looking out for the conditions of our overseas workers, is also counseling its own priests about their homilies which I suspect, has been caused by complaints or suggestions from their flock. A few weeks ago, a priest, I forgot his name, was quoted in the national dailies as telling his colleagues to avoid giving “sleep-inducing homilies”. The other day, it was Pope Francis himself who was advising preachers to keep their sermons, or homilies, “short and insightful”.

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I know a lot of people who choose the churches they go to because of the homilies which they claim, are often too long, and even incomprehensible, as if the one delivering it had not been prepared for it, and was only rambling to be able to say something about the Gospel. When we were in school, we had names for priests according to the way they delivered their homilies. We call them the LPs (Long Playing) or the 45s (RPM), which referred to the records being played on the radio, or played at our homes. But in Bacolod, there are some homilists who really must have prepared themselves and deliver short, but “insightful” sermons that one remembers long after the week is over.*

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