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By Arnold Van Vugt

The Living Spirit

Thursday, June 5, 2014

SECULARIZATION is a process of turning to the world, turning to the real world, not to a world that is somewhere out there in the sky. The crucial word is the world. What do we mean by the world? There are many different ways of looking at the world – from positive to negative outlooks. It depends also on what is your basic belief or disbelief about the world.

Religious people believe that the world is created by God. And God saw that it was good what He had created. They believe in the story of Genesis – God created the world in seven days. At the seventh day He rested. Of course, this is a symbolic presentation of how God created the world but many people take this literally.

This happened right at the beginning of creation. The story of Genesis says that God created the human being; He made them male and female. And then evil came into the world. That was the time that people started to get a negative outlook on the world. Satan gave people a negative outlook on the world. The Jewish people who believed in Yahweh, their God, believed also that God would liberate them, the chosen People of God.


Yahweh would lead them to the Promised Land. These were the ancient People of God. Their journey to the Promised land was a journey of ups and downs, of trial and error, of temptations to adore false gods, idols, and of moving away time and again from the true God of Israel. But then came into the world the Son of Man, Jesus of Nazareth, who through his Death and Resurrection became the true Leader of the New People of God.

From that time on the journey of the New People of God continued, but again this became a journey of ups and downs, of trials and errors. Jesus had told his people: ‘In the world you will have trouble, but be brave: I have conquered the world’ (John 16, 33). The new world of justice and truth was right in their midst but time and again the followers of Christ, the Christians, failed to see and hear the Good News. They had eyes but didn’t see; they had ears but didn’t hear the Good News proclaimed by Christ.

The Church of Christ became obsessed by law and doctrine and failed to serve the people of God as a Good Shepherd. People are searching, who and where is God. Which church is the right Church of Christ? Many different kinds of Christianity appeared and many different kinds of atheism, too.

It is a confusing story. After all, how many ways are there of saying ‘there is no God’? The answer is about as many ways as there are of saying ‘there is a God.’ Which is the true Church of Christ? Where do we find this church in our world of today? Maybe it is our way of doing things to hold onto an established church and a Christian society, and nurture in there secular liberal values, like truth, justice and peace.

Then there is science which has absolutely demolished the dogma that the earth revolves around the sun. It has also developed the likely big-bang theory that the world resulted from a big explosion.

Then there appeared in the world Pope John XXIII who had the vision to open the windows of the Church so that fresh air could enter a Church where the air had become very stale. Then he called together the Second Vatican Council which created a revolution within the Church. The social doctrine of the Church teaches the basic human dignity of all human beings and a basic equality of men and women in the Church.

In our time we saw the coming of a new pope, Pope Francis who has started another revolution in the Church, the revolution of the laity in the Church, where all People of God, the pope, the bishops, the priests and the ordinary people have an equal dignity and share in the Priesthood of Christ. That is the kind of secularization going on in our world today. All of us Christians are called to join in this process towards the coming of God’s Kingdom in our very midst.

Last week, I went to Aurora, Zamboanga del Sur, to look for that ‘shepherd’ who is abusing children in his Temple. I was not able to find that criminal because he has his business far outside the town, up somewhere in the mountains. But I was able to talk to Atty. Diosdado Cabrera, a relative of my wife. He is one of several prosecutors who have filed a case against Elbiña, the criminal. He told me that a judge in Aurora has moved the case to a Manila court, because of the car napping charges of Regional State Prosecutor Jaime Umpa against Elbiña.

Now, my only resort is to make an appeal on the Secretary of Justice, Leila de Lima, to file a warrant of arrest against the criminal and have him put behind bars, so that he can no longer abuse those innocent children in his Temple. This is a crime we should not allow to happen in a Christian society. Everyone of us has to take responsibility. We cannot afford to look the other way, as Pope Francis has said.


Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on June 05, 2014.


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