The irrepressible Archbishop Cruz
Archbishop Oscar V. Cruz calls himself an "old fogey". He pines for bygone days when things were simpler-- and he says, it's not just because he belongs to another age-- he claims things really were better then. "Doors can be left open at night, girls are respected, women are not violated. But we were poor, but with the poverty came honesty and integrity."
Is he romanticizing poverty? It seems not. Later on he says with passion, "Poverty and democracy cannot co-exist, because whoever is poor is not free."
Irreverent and unpredictable, he says he's "not in the mold" of the garden-variety priest. He says things like "Christ, humanly speaking was a failure."
He calls the Gloria Arroyo's presidency "corruption incarnate." His grudging respect goes to Fidel Ramos whom he says is "not all clean" but who did the most for the country. He's not afraid to tear down an icon like Cory Aquino whom he practically calls incompetent. Yet, he blessed then Chief Justice Renato Corona when the latter was struggling to stay in power.
There are shades of Manila Archbishop Cardinal Sin in him-- opinionated, controversial. Like Sin, he loves to crack jokes-- but while the late Cardinal's jokes often fell flat, Cruz is charming in his self-deprecation and cynicism.
Another major difference with Sin-- one of the key movers of the People Power uprising of 1986 and a staunch supporter of Cory Aquino's presidency-- Cruz regrets supporting EDSA 1.
"After that [EDSA] we know what happened, there was this lady, may she rest in peace, who took over... Whenever I leave the country, people know I'm a Filipino, they were practically mesmerized... a bloodless revolution... and then here in the country we were worse than before. Of course the lady said she didn't know how to govern... It was a very, very good opportunity for the Philippines to come out, and then... (mimics sound of deflating balloon)."
He cannot help snickering when asked about nuns in the US who were reprimanded for endorsing radical, feminist views. "Not only that, they would like to become priests! Even the Blessed Mother was not a priest." He wiggles out of the debate on women's equality in the Church when asked, "Don't you agree that women can run the world better?" He says, yes, his mother ran the household and fulfilled all the maternal duties, but it was his father who gave her the resources. He adds "even God is Father."
With a chuckle, he adds "Don't fight the Church, the Church will bury you, pray over you when you are dead."
"EVEN ROOSTERS DO IT"
While Cruz scores the country's first woman president for her failures in governance, Cruz praises her for stance against contraceptives. He once called her son, President Benigno Aquino III, "un-christian" for supporting the Reproductive Health Bill and at one point hinted he should tread carefully, or he may get excommunicated.
His imperialist conspiracy theory about the RH bill is now a very familiar tune-- Senator Tito Sotto said the same thing in his privilege speech. He says First World countries want to "keep them [Asians] poor, keep them few, then I will have command over them."
Unlike Sotto, who wants the RH bill "out of his hair", the archbishop doesn't shy away from controversy-- and with artificial contraception, he doesn't disappoint, jumping into the fray and never flinching. Calling the bill the "Sex Bill 4244" he claims the bill "hates life". He also told ABS-CBN that its the "introductory remarks" to "divorce and same-sex marriage".
Cruz's arguments in RH bill debate are dismissed as simplistic -- even a distortion of reality, but no one can say they aren't effective. His allegation that the bill is anti-life is one of the most-repeated arguments by the Catholic faithful.
He admits the message got distorted along the way. He says, "The Church never said go out there, be as many as you like. That would be irresponsible."
He is incredulous at man's lack of self control, saying even chickens practice abstinence from sex. He notes, the hen would not let the rooster near her until she has raised her chicks. "Even roosters do it."
JUETENG FIGHT LOST
When asked by Breaking Glass anchor Jay Buenaflor about the Catholic Bishop's Conference of the Philippines and whether it seeks to be a moral guardian of the state-- he says with a disappointed face "it tries to" and adds, "if it succeeds, I don't know."
He shakes his head in disgust as he openly talks about the time when orphanages and churches took donations from jueteng (illegal numbers game) lords.
Asked why the Roman Catholic Church in the Philippines has not spoken out against gambling, with a sigh he admits he "feels bad about being alone" in his crusade. He says, "How come I seem to be alone in my fight, perhaps it is not their cup of tea and I will not blame them for that... But you understand I would also like some people with me."
He also admits, "we never won the the fight against jueteng."
He adds, it's not just the addiction of the poor to gambling, it's the insidious effect on the government bureaucracy. Cruz says everyone in the jueteng chain, from the collector to the jueteng lord, will not exist if there is no collusion with local officials and the police.
"I COULD BE WRONG"
Rudyard Kipling said "The tumult and the shouting dies; The Captains and Kings depart, Still stands Thine ancient sacrifice, a humble and contrite heart".
Archbishop Emeritus Oscar Cruz has fought many battles with presidents -- some of them gone, all except one out of power. He declares, "There are many things I don't know. At times I'm wrong. I can't always be right. And that's good." - Rappler.com