Batuhan: A call to order

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By Allan S. B. Batuhan

Foreign Exchange

Saturday, February 2, 2013

POPE Benedict XVI declared the period from October 2012 to the end of the liturgical year in November 2013 as “The Year of Faith.” The period marks two of the most significant events in modern Church history, namely, the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council and the 20th anniversary of the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Called “the new evangelization,” it is being issued to the faithful to get to know the faith more intimately, and thus become “better” and more committed Catholics in the process. It is the pope’s response to what is widely considered to be “a church in retreat”—a reference to the Catholic Church in particular, but also Christianity in general, and even all the other world religions as well.

“In retreat” in particular because the Catholic church is losing many of its members to either other Christian denominations like the new evangelical Protestant sects, or to the secular world and the atheist and agnostic world view. “In retreat” in general because, as the world becomes more and more “advanced” in the material and intellectual sense, belief in religion and in a higher moral and spiritual order is constantly called into question, ridiculed as being regressive and primitive, and pilloried for being anti-progress and anti-intellectual.


Religion in general has, undeniably, been the focus of some unsavory reputation of late. Catholic child abuse allegations, financial and sexual scandals among a number of Protestant congregations and growing violence in the Muslim world – to name but a few – do seem to buttress the argument by secularists who claim that it is not a force of good, but a vehicle for evil and violence. Maybe true in part, but does this mean it is true in whole?

On the other hand, even anecdotal evidence points to the problems that a purely secular society breeds, even if it can be argued that some of those secular values are still tempered by religious principles and virtues.

Witness, for example, the impact that unbridled materialism and the pursuit of worldly pleasure for its own sake have had on modern society. Is it perhaps a coincidence that this has led to the rise of broken families, children born out of wedlock, corruption in the political sphere, and just an overall degeneration in the acceptable standards of ethical and moral behavior?

I hardly think I have to argue hard to prove my point.

Which person today, especially the younger ones, does not know a close friend who is not a single parent? How many have not heard of a friend or an acquaintance who has “gone to the bad” in the pursuit of more material possession? And which one has not observed the unstoppable rise of corruption and decay in the political arena, as politicians vie with one another for the chance to share in the public largesse?

The call to order is not exclusive to Catholicism. Even the secular world is taking heed of its own decay, and calling out for a stop, or at least a halt, to the slide.

Hollywood’s current top films – “Les Misérables”, “Lincoln” and “The Life of Pi” – at least in part, talk about values reconnecting us to the higher order. They preach of faith, hope, fidelity, selfless love and social justice – all desirable religious virtues that unfortunately seem to have been compromised, or altogether lost, in the din of modern society.

There clearly is a hunger for order amid the chaos -- in spheres both religious and secular -- and a growing realization that a return to the theological virtues and values is at least part of the answer.

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Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on February 02, 2013.


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