BUT OF COURSE.
Archbishop Oscar Cruz, an indefatigable anti-jueteng crusader, revealed recently that eight to twelve Catholic dioceses are benefitting from illegal gambling operations. One wonders if the Diocese of Laoag is among them.
This sense of wonder is not without basis. A retired archbishop, the longest-serving leader of this lone diocese of Ilocos Norte, openly admits that his beautiful house was built for him by a known jueteng lord. My sources also attest that some structures in the diocese were either built or renovated with help from operators of the popular numbers game.
Note, dear karikna, that I am not against jueteng per se. As a sociologist, I have previously written that jueteng exists not much because government officials and the police allow it, but more because the people need it. Where the government and church fail, jueteng fills gaps and satisfies needs. It provides jobs, it gives people hope. “False hope!,” some people may point out, but false hope, dear karikna, is always better than no hope at all.
You see, jueteng to me is not among what I would consider as major, major social problems. What disturbs me is the patent hypocrisy by which the church deals with it.
“Receiving money from and betting on jueteng is a grave sin,” says Sergio Utleg, Laoag bishop, citing moral grounds.
A more candid stand, however, was made no less by the late Jaime Cardinal Sin, the most influential Filipino prelate ever. “If Satan appears to me and gives me money, I will accept the money and spend it all for the poor. It is not the practice of the Church to ask donors where their donations come from. Our duty is to make sure all donations go to the poor,” he posited.
At least, Sin had the interests of the poor in mind. Under Utleg, the first structure to be constructed was not a church and neither was it a facility for our impoverished brethren. It was, of all things, a capricious swimming pool by the bishop’s palace. Continue reading “Church of the Pool on the take?”