There goes the visit of Rodolfo Lozada Jr. to Cebu. In acts that partially exposed his nature and the tendencies of his supporters, Lozada and pro-Lozada groups drowned the honest intention of the activity. Instead of the “search for truth,” what dominated talks about the visit were unverified claims and some people’s failure to accept contrary views.
The biggest error was, of course, their raising of claims against Cebu Archbishop Ricardo Cardinal Vidal and the Cebu archdiocese without checking their facts. No proof was presented that the cardinal prevented priests from holding mass for Lozada during his visit and yet he and the people surrounding him bandied it around like it was true.
They upped the ante with every retelling of the supposed “spiritual harassment” done against Lozada, with him “joking” by calling the Cebu church the “Archdiocese of Malacañang” and his main backer, the Black and White Movement, calling the cardinal a “congressman in cassock.” They failed to reckon how well-loved Vidal is by Cebuanos.
Because the claim was, at worst, a lie and, at best, a misinterpretation of events going into the visit, it easily crumbled once the cardinal, the Presbyteral Council and even some of their anti-Arroyo colleagues belied it. The most telling argument against it was the mass held in the evening and Lozada’s sheepish grin while announcing it in a forum.
Or we can forget the statements of the cardinal and the Presbyteral Council. What caught my attention was the reaction of Fr. Max Abalos, himself a “seeker of truth,” who told reporters that, one, he did not receive word from the cardinal preventing priests from holding a mass for Lozada and, two, mass was not part of preparations for Lozada’s visit.
As a full-time street marcher in my younger years, I am familiar with the kind of mindset propping up the critique against the cardinal and the archdiocese. There’s the tendency to find conspiracies in every corner, to jump into conclusions and indulge in name labeling. There’s also elitism, like the resistance to accept contrary views and facts.
Don’t get me wrong. Protesters play an important part in our democratic processes and despite my misgivings with the way they are conducting the fight against President Arroyo, I am still a believer in their relevance. Without them the evils committed by this government would not have been exposed. But they should be more open and objective.
Consider what some of the participants in the Lozada forum at the University of San Carlos gymnasium did the other day. A man who introduced himself only as “Po” got booed, forced to leave the gathering and, according to some accounts, threatened with physical harm just because he sounded like he had a view contrary to what others held.
Searches for truth should not be selective and one-sided. It should not only be applied in an important national issue as NBN-ZTE scandal but also in other concerns, like whether or not a cardinal ordered priests not to hold mass for Lozada. And it should not be limited to accepting facts and persons that favor a view or political affiliation.
–I wrote this for my March 19, 2008 column for Sun.Star Cebu