Can Priests sell their artistic and historical artifacts?

Samantalang naghihintay ako ng schedule ng barkong papunta dito sa Marinduque mula sa Lucena, naisipan kong pumasok sa National Bookstore upang tingnan kung mayroong bagong labas na aklat tungkol sa History. Matapos ang ilang sandali, nasulyapan ko sa History section ang isang kupas at tila pinag-iwanan na ng maraming kamay na aklat. Ang pamagat ng nasabing aklat ay LUGAR: Essays on Philippine Heritage and Architecture, akda ni Augusto F. Villalon, 2001 edition. Matapos kong isa-isahin ang nilalalaman ng table of contents, tiningnan ko ang presyo, opppps … ang mahal, wika ko sa aking sarili, sabay sauli sa nasabing aklat. Pero matay ko mang isipin, talagang maganda at napakahalaga ng nilalaman ng aklat na ito.

“Can priests sell their artistic and historic artifacts?” Ito ang tanong sa pamagat ng isa sa mga sanaysay sa aklat na Lugar. Narito ang exerpts mula sa nasabing sanaysay:

To raise money for repairs, Boljoon Church (Southern Cebu) authorities decided to sell some of its benches, beds, and other incidental things. They looked on the sale as the only way they could raise the funds needed to repair the church, particularly the leaking, sagging tile roof. However, Cardinal Vidal of Cebu disapproved the sale. He was absolutely correct in not allowing the removal of the objects from the Church.

Questions are immediately raised: Can parish priests sell the historic and artistic artifacts in their churches to raise funds? Can parish priests tear down their old, creaky heritage structures to replace them with new ones? How can anybody stop them? The essay continued narrating an article published in the CBCP Monitor on July 1996.

“A newly-installed pastor … on the very first day that he takes over the administration of the parish, surveys the church … and the convent which will be his home. The Church is fine, he decides, but the convent is ancient and dreary. After raising funds, the new parish priest tears down the centuries-old convent. On the same location, builds a new building that will be his house, office, and headquarters for the different parish organizations. Other pastors, those who find their convent acceptable, turn their attention to “modernizing” the church instead. Old must give way to the new. Vestments embroidered with gold thread, leather-bound volumes of handwritten parish documents, religious objects, and furniture are thrown out with the rest of the old junk. The priests may not know that by changing old for new, they are seriously violating a canon law.” (Lugar, 136-137)

Inihanay din ng may-akda ang ilang mahahalagang dokumento ng Simbahan kaugnay ng usaping ito. Nagpapatunay lamang ito ng kamulatan ng maraming tao tungkol sa kahalagahan, pangangalaga, pagpapanatili at pagpapaunlad ng cultural heritage ng Simbahan na siya rin namang cultural heritage ng ating bansa. Hindi lamang sa Maynila o Cebu, o sa bahagi ng Visaya masasaksihan ang pagpapahalaga at pangangalaga sa cultural heritage ng ating bansa, na karamihan ay mga lumang simbahan at mga kagamitan nito. Kamakailan lamang ay naglunsad and pamahalaang panlalawigan ng malawakang cultural heritage mapping.

Sa aking palagay, tama at napapanahon ang ganitong mga paglilinang sa likas na yamang cultural ng ating simbahan at bansa. Hindi dapat nahuhuli ang mga pari at mga taong simbahan sa pagpapalawak ng kaalaman tungkol sa nasabing usapin. Minsan, ang higit na pinag-uukulan ng pansin ay ang mga tsismis na wala namang basehan, porque ninakaw daw ni ganun ang ganito at ganun. Porque ipinagbili raw ni Father ang ilang ari-arian ng simbahan, etc… Eh, yon kayang mga nagtitsismis ng ganito, ano naman po ang naitulong ninyo para maalagaan, mapanatili, at mapaunlad pa ang cultural heritage ng ating probinsiya?

“CAN PRIESTS SELL THEIR ARTISTIC AND HISTORIC ARTIFACTS?” The answer is a big NO! They can only preserve, conserve and develop them for the benefit of future generations.