Solitude and Distractions

Two issues worth pondering:

Thai monks disrobed for drug use

More than 30 Thai monks have been defrocked for illegal drug use, an official said Wednesday, in the latest scandal to hit the kingdom’s Buddhist clergy. One abbot was charged with drug trafficking after urine tests showed the 31 monks — from several dozen monasteries in the Ban Mo district of Saraburi province had used methamphetamine.

“Villagers have frequently complained of suspicious gatherings in temples and most of them are drug users or people involved with drugs,” said a local government official who did not want to be named.

Those who undergo rehabilitation and stop using drugs will be allowed to re-enter the monkhood, he added.

Thailand’s Buddhist clergy has been hit by a series of scandals, with local media reporting cases of drug-taking, drinking, gambling and visiting prostitutes.

Recent footage of three monks flying in a private jet with sunglasses and a Louis Vuitton luxury bag sparked a furore in the Buddhist-dominated country.

One of the trio, Luang Pu Nen Kham, is also being investigated on suspicion of an array of offences including sex with a minor, tax evasion, drug possession and money laundering, according to the Justice Ministry’s Department of Special Investigation.

He is now overseas although his exact whereabouts are unclear.

Buddhist authorities said they would ask the Thai foreign ministry to revoke his passport.




“I’m still thinking about what Pope Francis said the other day, about his being pained to see Catholic clergy driving flashy cars and his bidding them to use more modest ones. Seemingly a minor thing, it has not very minor implications.

He made the comment in an informal talk with seminarians. Catholics should “not be afraid of renewing some structures,” he said. “In Christian life, even in the life of the Church, there are ancient structures, transient structures: It is necessary to renew them!” Priests and nuns, he said, “should keep freshness and joy in their lives—there is no sadness in holiness.”

That’s when he got to the flashy cars. He wasn’t talking about superficial joy, he said, the kind that comes from getting the latest gadgets. “It hurts me when I see a priest or a nun with the latest-model car. You can’t do this. A car is necessary to do a lot of work, but please, choose a more humble one. If you like the fancy one, just think about how many children are dying of hunger in the world.”

It’s good advice. No, it’s brilliant advice.

At the very least, it’s brilliant advice for the Catholic Church, not least for the Philippine Catholic Church. In fact, it’s brilliant advice not just for the Catholic Church but for the other Christian churches, including the various sects that have sprouted in this country faster than mushrooms in the dark. Local Christian churches in particular validate themselves by displays of wealth and power, which often take, quite apart from displays of political clout, particularly during elections, the very physical one of grand, or grandiose, edifices. The Catholic Church has its cathedrals or basilicas with all their pomp and pompousness, the Iglesia ni Cristo has its splendorous spires, often strung out near each other (look at the ones on Commonwealth), that glow in the dark like Disneyland. Meant to extol the glory of God, they only succeed in extolling, particularly for the mesmerized or resentful poor, the glory of their officials.”
Read more here.


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