After the De La Salle brothers called on the President to step down, not a few wondered aloud: Where are the Jesuits? The men from the order once called the "Light Cavalry" of the Church were in the forefront of social change movements in the 1970s and in the run-up to Edsa 1986 and Edsa 2001. Had they turned into a Praetorian Guard instead?
The answer to the second question: Hardly. The answer to the first: They are still in the thick of things. In fact, during their July plenary, the Catholic bishops sought the advice of only three "outsiders." They were all Jesuits: Fr. Provincial Danny Huang, Fr. Joaquin Bernas (needless to say, the country’s preeminent constitutionalist), and Fr. Jojo Magadia (a political science expert).
But as the new "Jesuit guidelines" make clear, the Society (as Jesuits and some Jesuit alumni call the order) recognizes that we are living through a time of "confusion and crisis." Contrary to the very public stand of a group of highly committed Filipinos whom I respect (some of whom I count as friends), the "things" in which we are in the thick of are not black and white. That, however, only makes moral intervention even more necessary.
The Commission on the Social Apostolate of the Philippine Province of the Society of Jesus (that’s a highly formal name for eight Jesuits of essentially like mind and roughly the same age, many of them classmates in Philosophy and Theology) wrote the guidelines. The Inquirer has the first part here. But if you can’t wait for the second part, the Ateneo website has the whole kit and kaboodle.
Three quick thoughts (my apologies, I’m under too many deadlines):
1. The Jesuit position, if there is such a thing, has hardened since July. The guidelines do not make for easy reading in Malacanang (or in Congress, for that matter).
2. The Jesuits are saying: Prepare for the long haul. The changes society needs may take much longer than we think. (See, for example, their reference to the martial law years, "when the alternatives were not clear.")
3. The feedback the Jesuits have been receiving since the start of the crisis has been nationwide in scope; the guidelines give it the proper emphasis. "Others, especially those in the provinces, feel excluded by and resentful of what they perceive to be Manila deciding for the country again. Efforts must be made to address this disillusionment and sense of exclusion, so that our people might be motivated to participate more vigorously in our country’s political life."