Monday, March 25, 2013

Our belief in and suspicion over authority

Take Sherman Kuek, the Director of the Diocesan Pastoral Institute, as an example. On one hand, he is very suspicious of those in powerful offices,
"The truth is, I don't need any politician to preach 1Malaysia at me. There are very good people in Malaysia - non-political people - who recognise our differences in colour, culture and religion, and who celebrate these diversities. My own religion has preached 1Humanity long before the very political entities who polarised the races in Malaysia started ironically preaching 1Malaysia.

"I believe in Malaysia. But leaders, I don't believe in you."
On another hand, he has no qualm pledging all allegiance to whoever who occupies the papal office, the most powerful office in the Roman Catholic church (emphasis added):
"...there is no need to for me to announce so overtly that I intend to render my unconditional obedience to this new pontiff. It is an understood reality. Whoever sits on the Chair of Peter is the supreme and universal shepherd of the Church, the Vicar of Christ, and deserves nothing less than my allegiance, my submission of intellect and will and even my religious assent. It is my intention to continue living the Catholic life and my vocation cleaving to the Petrine Office upon which the Church of Jesus Christ is built and continues to stand. This promise of obedience stands regardless of the man who holds the office and remains untainted by whatever subjective feelings or sentiments I may have about the man himself."
Most of us are suspicious of all office holders regardless whether religious or secular, yet at the same time recognize "whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy" (Phil. 4:8) in any given moment in history. Therefore, we can celebrate the secular rulers as well as the Pope according to their merit, and distance from them according to their demerit. 

This meritocratic position is not to be played into the binary between the community and the individual. It is not as if one has to give up entirely one's allegiance to a communal tradition nor be critical over everything except the individual self. 

What matters here is the recognition of merit/demerit which presumes the tentative three sequential basic beliefs: First, the authority discourse between scripture, tradition, experience, reason, and imagination; second, the fallibleness of all human persons except the God-Man; and third, the availability of common and special grace. It is from this recognition that we evaluate everything, including the basic beliefs themselves. 

1 comment:

SK sfo said...

This marks the significant reason as to why I am Catholic and you are not. While you may see my refusal for allegiance to political leaders and my obedience to the papal office as being contradictory, if you cared to learn to understand better, you'd know that for us there is a difference between "allegiance" and "obedience".