Kuwento

A different take on Team Tatay

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SAN FRANCISCO — The 2013 election campaign will be remembered for one of the most amusing tit-for-tat exchanges in the history of Philippine politics. Team Patay vs. Team Tatay.

A quick recap: Bacolod Bishop Vicente Navarra created a stir by endorsing a poster tagging senators and other politicians who supported the reproductive health law and the right of citizens to use contraceptives as enemies of life, Team Patay.

But then, a stinging response: a text message identified five Bacolod priests who reportedly sired children. They were given what I actually thought was an even catchier name, Team Tatay.

The message urged the faithful not to attend Masses celebrated by these priests or give them donations, according to Philippine Daily Inquirer report.

Naturally, the Catholic hierarchy got upset.

Bishop Navarra called the message “very unchristian,” though he did acknowledge that some priests did engage in what many would call unpriestly activities.

“Some priests who have had indiscretions in the past have realized what they did, shown that they are repentant, reformed and have made amends,” he was quoted as saying in the Inquirer.

It was not immediately clear what he meant by “repentant, reformed and have made amends.”

Apparently, members of Team Tatay (and the list supposedly is expected to get longer) are still active priests. But beyond the clear violation of a longstanding rule in the Catholic Church, I actually don’t see anything wrong with that.

In fact, the Team Tatay fiasco offers an opportunity to take another look at one of Catholicism’s edict — that priests aren’t supposed to marry and have families.

This is also where I’m somewhat sympathetic with Bishop Navarra and the Catholic hierarchy over the Team Tatay controversy. Yes, their own Team Patay attack is part of a boneheaded campaign.

But outing the Team Tatay priests can have unexpected consequences. It could even be dangerous. For one thing, we know the stigma that being the child of a clergyman still carries.

Besides, for those of us outside of the Bacolod community, we don’t really know who these priests are.

Given all the attention that Jose Rizal’s infamous literary characters such as Padre Damaso and perhaps even Padre Salvi have attracted recently, the Team Tatay inevitably evokes images of the priest as devious, aggressive sexual predators.

But we don’t really know.

I guess as a parent I worry about any attempt to expose and even publicly humiliate a fellow parent in that way. For one thing, some, if not all, of the Team Tatay priests may even be good tatays, good parents.

Like I said, it’s not clear what Bishop Navarra meant when he said the Team Tatay priests were “repentant, reformed and have made amends.”

Does that mean they and the Catholic hierarchy paid off their partners, told them to keep quiet, and maybe even exiled them to some undisclosed part of the country?

Or did making amends mean they took on the responsibilities of fatherhood?

I ask these questions because I know of Filipino priests who went on to build deep, meaningful relationships and even became good fathers.

In fact, as someone who still considers himself a Catholic, I think that would even be a wonderful idea to get spiritual guidance from people who actually know what it’s like to raise children and build a family.

I actually think it probably would be more productive to take the Team Tatay campaign in another direction, to give it another spin. It’s a long shot, and probably won’t go anywhere.

But maybe it’s time to convince the Catholic hierarchy that fathers who know what fatherhood is about may not be such a crazy idea after all.

On Twitter @boyingpimentel. Visit (and Like) the Kuwento page on Facebook at www.facebook.com/boyingpimentel

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  • Htee

    Pareng Ben P. kung papayagan magasawa at mag anak ang isang pari, hindi mo ba iisipin na ang abuloy mo ang pinambili ng cell phone ng anak ng pari? Kahit pa mayaman ang angkan ng pari, mali pa rin dahil aanak-anak sya at pabubuhay nya sa kamaganak nya. Kung may mana naman sya sa mayaman nyang tatay, di ba dapat ilimos nya ito sa mahihirap dahil yan ang tamang gawain ng isang alagad ni Kristo?
    Dapat gayahin ng RC ang ginagawa ng mga monk ng budhist. Ang mga bilog na peklat sa bunbunan nila ay hindi para sa simbolo na sila ay monk. Yun ay para patayin ang libog nila….pagkumpleto ang tuldok, wala nang libog yung monk na iyon.

  • glg_ph

    agree sir, i hoped the reporter had asked the bishop what he means by the priests when they reformed, repented and made amends. as a father i hate that the children of these priests are the ones who will suffer and the bishop lumped up the solution to these situation with the priest being reformed, etc. what about the children, did the priest acknowledged them?will the children be baptized? in whose name? ?will they pay for their daily sustenance? will they pay for their education?will they attend their birthdays?will they attend the pta meetings?

  • diamond_digger

    To the author: Had any of those priests in the Team Tatay possessed the qualities of a good, would-be father or parent, he should have controlled his sexual urges until such time when he is resigned from priesthood and is ready to give his name to his would-be child. Otherwise, he is just an animal wanting to satisfy his sexual urge in a more animalistic way than real animals. Why? Because animals need not spend money for care and support and send their offspring to school but a woman made to bear and raise a child of a priest is placed in a quagmire of hiding her situation while desperately trying to find a job to be able to support her child. Meanwhile, the animal priest goes on to find another young gullible girl to bear his animalistic urges.

  • rosaddiaq

    A different take but the wrong one. It is what exactly is wrong with our society. We tolerate wrongdoings of our relatives, friends, and parish priests. The latter believe crimes are just sins so when they repent, they are forgiven ( and can still go to heaven ). This is the church’s justification for hiding erring bishops and priests. In contrasts, the most honest countries of western Europe ( <2% catholics ), the dominantly "protestant" population ( mainly Lutherans but only 5% attend church services so they are really non-religious ) do not believe on repentance; if you do the crime, you do the time. Kaya yung miyembro ng team tatay, they should go to jail first before going to heaven ( or hell ). Btw, in the early christian church, bishops are married, "husband of one wife", see 1Timothy 3, verses 2,12.

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