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Tag Archive | "Carlos Celdran"

Carlos Celdran, Civil Disobedience and the Catholic Church

Here in the Philippines, the Catholic Church considers civil disobedience an option in its conflict with the government on the use of artificial contraceptives:

MANILA, Philippines—As Church and State moved to avert a collision, Catholic bishops Sunday said civil disobedience remained “a moral option” for Catholics if the Aquino administration pushed for the distribution of artificial contraceptives to couples who want to use them.

The bishops said they had the moral authority to call for such an action if the government promoted an action contrary to the teachings of the Church.

“The Catholic Church in the Philippines can do that if it decides to do that because for one thing, civil disobedience is a moral option, one of the moral options,” said Msgr. Juanito Figura, secretary general of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP).

I don’t know if the Catholic Church is aware of this, but they too are very vulnerable to civil disobedience. Just less than a week ago, Carlos Celdran, a Manila tour guide by profession protested inside the church with what may also be considered civil disobedience:

MANILA, Philippines – (UPDATE) Popular tourist guide Carlos Celdran was arrested Thursday afternoon after he held a protest in front of the main altar of the Manila Cathedral while an ecumenical service was going on.

Celdran was arrested by police after he began shouting for the Catholic Church to “stop getting involved” in politics during a ceremony marking the second anniversary of the “May They Be One Bible campaign,” a joint effort by Catholics and Protestant leaders to distribute five million Bibles to five million poor Filipino families.

He also held up a placard with the word “Damaso,” referring to the hated Spanish friar in Jose Rizal’s novel Noli Me Tangere.

“Stop involving yourselves in politics!” shouted Celdran, who dressed up like Rizal and also had a top hat, inside the cavernous cathedral.

He later told reporters that he did the stunt because the bishops needed to “hear what the Filipinos are saying.”

“Ninety percent of the people want the RH (reproductive health) bill,” Celdran said.

Carlos Celdran was then promptly arrested, but later released on bail. People were divided, some praised him, and some didn’t. While some people agreed with his message to stop meddling in politics, some of the same people felt that the means by which he did it was in bad taste. He had also violated a law.

Art. 133. Offending the religious feelings. — The penalty of arresto mayor in its maximum period to prision correccional in its minimum period shall be imposed upon anyone who, in a place devoted to religious worship or during the celebration of any religious ceremony shall perform acts notoriously offensive to the feelings of the faithful.

But now back to civil disobedience:

I personally don’t agree with the manner by which Carlos Celdran expressed his message. But I couldn’t help but wonder, could his manner of expression also be considered ‘civil disobedience’? The very same kind of civil disobedience which the Catholic Church considers a ‘moral option’? And look again at the first quotation. It also stated, “The bishops said they had the moral authority.”

Moral authority? After the Pope has apologized for sexual harassment? Haven’t they heard of the verse in the bible ‘Ye shall know them by their fruits.”

Even assuming that civil disobedience is not done on the Catholic Church, it is still vulnerable to other events which may still be legal.

Is walking out of Sunday Mass illegal? I know of someone who walks out of Mass when she doesn’t agree with what the priest says. Currently, there are a number of issues right now which some churchgoers may not like, some may even consider them offensive. Carlos Celdran disagreed with the supposed meddling of the Church in political affairs. The political affair in question was the ‘RH bill’.

There are of course other things which ‘decent Catholics’ are not supposed to do, or they risk going to hell. These are all potential hot spots which can trigger walk outs.

We were also just talking about unpremeditated walk-outs, now how about premeditated walk-outs. Premeditated walk-outs are just like premeditated rallies. What if a group of 50 decides to attend mass, but later agree to all walk out at the same time when a certain issue like the ‘RH bill’ is mentioned by the officiating priest, is this illegal? As far as the attendees are concerned they are still Catholics, they were born Catholics even though they don’t go to mass, so who should prevent them from attending mass?

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Offending Religious Feelings

Out on a P6,000 bail, Carlos Celdran is facing charges on “offending religious feelings” under Article 133 of the Revised Penal Code:

Offending the religious feelings. — The penalty of arresto mayor in its maximum period to prision correccional in its minimum period shall be imposed upon anyone who, in a place devoted to religious worship or during the celebration of any religious ceremony shall perform acts notoriously offensive to the feelings of the faithful.

Considering what he did last Thursday, Art. 133 seems to apply. But upon closer look of the law, it appears Carlos may have a way out:



1. Acts complained of were performed –

…….a. in a place devoted to religious feelings, or

…… b. during the celebration of any religious ceremony;

2. Acts must be notoriously offensive to the feelings of the faithful;

3. Offender is any person; and

4. There’s a deliberate intent to hurt the feelings of the faithful, directed against religious tenet.

Carlos’ act obviously satisfied the first three elements, but possibly not the fourth. If all elements are to be present in order for the act to qualify for Art. 133, notice that Element #4 has actually two parts, namely:

1. There’s a deliberate intent to hurt the feelings of the faithful

2. Directed against religious tenet

If those two also need to be present at the same time (meaning the 4th element should be taken as a whole), then Carlos may have a way out because he did not direct his actions towards religious tenet (practice, dogma or ritual) but towards the Church’s meddling in government affairs.

Acts must be directed against religious practice or dogma or ritual for the purpose of ridicule, as mocking or scoffing or attempting to damage an object of religious veneration.

Assuming there was “deliberate intent to hurt the feelings of the faithful” (and I think even this is debatable), the act was not directed against religious practice, dogma, or ritual, but on the political practice of the CBCP. Carlos never criticized the Catholic dogma on unborn life, but rather the CBCP’s meddling in government affairs. He did not say that Humanae Vitae is antiquated or fallible; he merely shouted “Damaso,” “Stop interfering in politics,” and “Stop meddling in government.”

And with that I think Carlos should not be charged with Offending Religious Feelings.

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The Creationist in a Cassock

This is dedicated to Carlos Celdran. For taking a stand against the CBCP, he was charged with “notoriously offending religious feelings.”

A creationist dressed as a priest entered a science conference on natural selection.

While an evolutionist was discussing his latest discovery, the creationist walked to the front of the stage, carrying a huge illustration board. The creationist faced the audience and held the board high above his head, revealing the name written on it: D A R W I N.

The evolutionist stopped talking. The audience fell silent.

“Darwin!” the creationist suddenly cried with indignation. “Darwin!”

Eyes opened. Mouths gaped.

The audience was starting to murmur when the creationist cried: “The world was created in six days! Stop contradicting Christian beliefs! Separate science from religion!”

A security guard approached the creationist and escorted him out of the conference room. He was banned from participating in the conference any further.

Some blogged about the creationist’s protest, but it never made the news.

The conference organizers thought about filing a case against the creationist. Unfortunately, it’s not illegal to notoriously offend scientific beliefs or rational thinking.

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Now Who’s Being Unreasonable?: Carlos Celdran, the Catholic Bishops, and the Failure of Reason.

I sympathize with the folk who find Carlos Celdran’s actions offensive and unreasonable. I can see where you’re coming from. But let me suggest, too, that there’s enough unreasonableness to go around, and maybe it didn’t start with Carlos shouting in Manila Cathedral.

All this arguing about RH aside, we’ve quite forgotten that a reasonable accommodation already exists. It is this: allow government health offices to offer both artificial and natural family planning resources; permit anybody, of whatever faith, to choose the family planning resource that they need. The Catholic Church is absolutely free to pressure its believers to make a choice consistent with its dictates – but cannot pressure the government to limit its offerings only to that choice consistent with Church teaching.

But apparently, for the bishops, this accommodation is simply not reasonable enough. And it is only the Church hierarchy and their stalwarts who have rejected this reasonable middle ground.

After decades of the Philippine media and politicians indulging the Catholic bishops’ threats, tantrums, and drama, it’s easy to overlook the accommodation that’s been under our noses all along – and the bishops’ unreasonable refusal to join the rest of us in compromise.

“We’ve tried reasoning with the bishops, and it didn’t work. Now let’s try plan B.” It could be that Carlos was the very first person who came to this conclusion. He certainly won’t be the last.

Originally published as a note on Facebook.

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Rizal behind bars: the arrest of Carlos Celdran

Jose Rizal is behind bars. Or at least someone who looks like him (give or take a few pounds).

This afternoon, Carlos Celdran was arrested for disrupting an Ecumenical Mass in Manila Cathedral. During one of the readings, he went in front of the altar wearing a faux Spanish era costume — black pants, black suit, black hat.

He held up a sign that said “Damaso,” first for everyone to see then for those seated in the first row — a few Cardinals and Bishops, including Archbishop Cruz. Also in attendance was Mayor Lim. They didn’t get what he was trying to do, so he helped them out.

“Damaso!” he shouted.

Eyes opened, mouths gaped. “Stop interfering in politics,” Carlos shouted. “Stop meddling in government!”

They finally got it. Mayor Lim ordered the policemen in attendance to take him away (a warrant-less arrest). He was to be taken to the Police Community Precinct in Intramuros, where he was held until he was transferred to Ermita Police Station 5 in UN Avenue, where we met him at around 7pm.

Carlos, who’d been under arrest for almost three hours, welcomed us with a smile. He was being held in the juvenile delinquent cell. Although five other prisoners were with him, he was impossible to miss – he was still in the Rizal outfit.

He told us the whole story, which brings us to now. There were reports that Cardinal Rosales wants him in jail for embarrassing the whole Church. Rosales is thinking of filing a case against him. Carlos is willing to make a public apology, but he wants to emphasize that he is apologizing for the manner of his protest – not for its meaning. “The CBCP threatened civil disobedience. This is my version of it.”

Carlos started a protest that is long overdue. But he is not alone. Friends, family and fellow advocates of secularism and Reproductive Health continue to arrive to show their solidarity. Tomorrow there will be bigger demonstrations near Malacañang and the CBCP headquarters. And as long as the Church continues to block RH progress and meddle in politics, there will be many more.

In the same way that Jose Rizal stood against the oppressive friars of his time, we must take a stand against the CBCP. I’m not suggesting we do civil disobedience of any sort. Let’s just keep the spirit of Rizal’s protests alive in whatever way we can. Costume not required.

Posted in Politics, Religion, SocietyComments (55)

Rage Against the CBCP (Flashmob/Rally to support RH)

Filipino Freethinkers, Carlos Celdran, Bagong Pepe and a few others will be in front of San Agustin Church at 11am tomorrow Friday Oct 1 to do a FLASHMOB PHOTO OP in front of the CBCP. It will be fun and it won’t take long. Wear anything!

This is a counter movement against the CBCP threatening the government with civil disobedience for daring to take care of their citizens. This is a stand against dogmatic “morals” with horrible consequences. This is to show the vocal minority who stand against the reproductive health bills that the other 80% of the country want RH reforms NOW!

Where: San Agustin church, Intramuros, Manila. In front of the CBCP. (map)

When: Friday, October 1, 11 AM (come at 1030!)

Facebook event page.

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Rational Hero on RockEd Radio

Rational Hero on RockEd RadioFilipino Freethinkers Mike Aquino, Tania Arpa, and Ryan Tani with Carlos Celdran of Rational Hero talk about the RH Bill, secularism, and the sins of the Catholic Church in a RockEd Radio episode hosted by Gang Badoy.

Download mp3

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Rational Hero at RockEd Radio

Rational Hero at Rocked Radio (Small)

*UPDATE*: This has been postponed to Dec. 3, 9:45pm to make way for discussions on the Maguindanao massacre.

Tune in to Rocked Radio at NU107 to hear answers to the question:

What is a Rational Hero?

Thursday, Nov. 26 TBA, 9-11pm


  1. Tania Arpa
  2. Mike Aquino
  3. Ryan Tani
  4. Bob Guerrero of Unitarian Universalist Church
  5. Beth Angsioco of Reproductive Health Advocacy Network
  6. Carlos Celdran of Rational Hero

Anything you’d like us to discuss? Tune in and call or leave a comment below. Thanks!

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Congressmen Contra-RH Bill

In a nutshell, RH Bill hopes to give our people their basic human right to choose the kind of family planning method and reproductive health education they want for themselves and to their family. Once enacted, the government will protect, provide, and finance free access to a full range of safe and effective family planning methods (natural and artificial) to all Filipinos, and therefore empower a healthy and responsible populace.

Given that tremendous practical advantage to our people, especially the poor ones with no capacity to avail resources and special education regarding health and sex education, still some of our supposed representative in the Lower House directly object the passage of RH Bill.

Much thanks to RH Bill advocate Carlos Celdran for providing a working list of our ‘honorable’ Congressmen who openly oppose the RH Bill. Now that we already identified them, we know much better now who to consider for re-election. Also, feel free to call or write the office/s of these public figures and express your own thoughts regarding RH Bill and demand an explanation on how/why they’ve come up with that decision.

Read the full story

Posted in Politics, SocietyComments (2)