The Spiritual Odyssey of Jose Rizal
Byline: Bernardo M Villegas
ECONOMISTS at the University of Asia and the Pacific (formerly the Center for Research and Communication) have never pretended that economics is an exact science. Although they give the highest importance to econometrics, mathematical economics, and other quantitative tools needed for empirically testing economic theories, they have always taken a multidisciplinary approach to the solution of economic problems, whether on the national, regional, sectoral, corporate, or individual levels. Among other disciplines that they bring to fore in their economic study of economic problems are theology, philosophy, political science, sociology, and anthropology.
One of the first professors at CRC when it opened its graduate programs in1968 was Fr. Javier de Pedro, the first chaplain of CRC and a priest of the Prelature of Opus Dei. He taught Social Economics to the graduate students and business executives, introducing them to the social doctrine of the Catholic Church as applied to such varied topics as cooperativism, labor unions, regional development, agrarian reform, social security, immigration, and other economic issues requiring a multidisciplinary treatment. His background as an industrial engineer gave him a special ability to integrate various sciences on the level of the enterprise. Students who studied under him 30 to 40 years ago are among the more socially conscious top executives today, not only in Metro Manila but in such cities as Davao, Cagayan de Oro, Cebu, Iloilo, and Bacolod. A good number have also made their professional mark abroad.
Father De Pedro moved to Hong Kong in 1981, where he has been working as chaplain in a center of Opus Dei. He was recently in Manila to launch his book on Jose Rizal: Rizal: Through a Glass Darkly, which is a spiritual biography of Jose Rizal. It chronicles the religious milestones of his life: from the piety of early youth as a student at the Ateneo, through his rejection of the divinity of Jesus Christ in his early manhood, to his return to the sacraments a few hours before his execution. Father De Pedro is especially qualified to probe into the spiritual odyssey of the Great Malayan. Being a Spaniard, he had direct access to all the original writings of Rizal. Combining his civil and theological studies, he was eminently gifted with the skills to meticulously investigate the writings of Rizal, particularly his novels in conjunction with his letters and poetry. The Filipino youth (especially those from 15 to 40 years of age) will discover a more human Rizal in Father De Pedros book. They can identify with him as he survives two personal crises, one dating 1883 and eventually finding expression in the Noli Me Tangere; the other 1891 as Rizal finished writing the Filibusterismo.
There will be Filipinos especially those with Masonic tendencies who will disagree with Fr. De Pedros conclusions: That Jose Rizal was never a pagan, but a Catholic, even if for a large space of his life, he was rather a "free-believing" Christian. …