Monday, October 4, 2010

Burning Weeds

These past few days, there has been a huge hubbub against the CBCP, and rightly so, in my opinion. This all started when the famed Intramuros tour guide, Carlos Celdran, stepped next to the pulpit dressed as Crisostomo Ibarra/Jose Rizal raising a placard with the word “Damaso” written in all caps while a priest was conducting his mass.

I believe the Catholic Church direly needs a big shake up. We’ve been hearing about the anomalies it has kept hidden internationally, but we also need to shed light on the one at home.

Indulgencia is still, surprisingly or unsurprisingly, quite common, with priests receiving amounts of money from rich jueteng lords, politicians, etc., promising to absolve them of their sin or to portray them to the masses as gracious, God-fearing angels. Although they’re more like demons in reality, this doesn’t matter because they have paid their dues. Literally. Abuse is rife as well. Be it abuse of power, abuse of people, children, money, whatever. Bad apples have joined the Church and were given the power to wreak silent havoc. But I must say, it is a very bad generalization to say that the Church is absolutely like this. I have met priests in the past that have given me insight and knowledge, and were the kindest and gentlest of souls. But there are worms that have infiltrated their institution, giving them a bad name.

It seems to me that it’s an open secret. Everyone knows that the Catholic Church in the Philippines has done many a hypocritical deed, frowned upon in private but not seriously voiced out in public. It’s an open secret that has only been dared to be mentioned in jest, hence the term, “Katoliko-liko”. Although it sounds quite blasphemous, I was so happy that finally, this has been cast on the public eye. So happy to hear that I wasn’t the only one disappointed with the Church.

I have long ago turned my back on Catholicism. Mainly because I have the belief that not one religion can fully encapsulate the Truth. But my walk towards Agnosticism was exacerbated by the many hypocrisies Catholicism and Christianity have been doing. Those in power get to dictate what is supposed to be good or bad, manipulating doctrine interpretations to benefit themselves. Forcing people to covert through pressure, force or fear. What happened to acceptance and tolerance? Not to mention the unfairness in the fact that one of the richest organizations in the world is exempt from tax, even though they exploit their assets for profit. They own schools, buildings, land, etc. Not to mention having shares in different companies, which don’t necessarily have to be in line with their values.

I also couldn’t tolerate the Philippine Catholic Church in its nosiness in the government. They endorse certain candidates for the election, impose rules that affect the law and the supposedly better judgment of officials, and poke their noses with opinions on just about anything that’s outside their realm. There has been strong opposition from the Catholic Church against the RH (Reproductive Health) bill. By doing this, they are imposing their beliefs to a nation. People need and have the right to choose and to be educated. Isn’t man supposed to be given the freedom to choose, as the Church preaches? Then why would the same institution take this freedom away? There should be a choice, and if the Church is confident that its followers are well taught and devoted to their doctrine, then they should be confident that those followers would choose accordingly. It is simply not right to strip people of their right to know and choose.

One of the basic pillars of a real democratic government is the separation of church and state. But it looks like however basic this is, the Church has yet to learn it. They feel they have the power over the country because of the sheer number of followers, but this does not give them any license to delve into affairs that they should have minimal, or no, say in.

It was a brave thing, what Mr Celdran did. Very timely and much needed. To many, it made him look like a modern day hero, having the courage to shed light on an issue and give a voice to those who are afraid or just cannot say anything. But many also think that his method of getting attention to this issue is rude and disrespectful. In my opinion, when you think about it, if he didn’t do something so shocking and drastic, it will all get blown away and be insignificant. Nothing will happen and change will not ensue. I think it was a necessary action. The Church has become an institution that can be likened to a garden so rife with weeds. Weeds that destroy everything in its path for its own growth and benefit. Those elements certainly need to get burned. Carlos Celdran could be the spark that ignites that fire.

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