Recently, our own Marguerite de Leon challenged the Philippine Daily Inquirer to explain itself for putting a puff piece on Pedro Calungsod as its editorial. De Leon also noted the Philippine Daily Inquirer’s recent history of innuendo against “unrepentant” secularists and liberals. In de Leon’s original open letter, she questioned the editorial, which fawned over “a story that is not based on a shred of evidence and is only sincerely believed by some people.” She was referring to a 2002 story of the revival of a clinically dead woman, whose recovery was attributed to the long dead man, Pedro Calungsod (1654–1672). Despite the lack of evidence for the story (such evidence would surely merit at least a passing mention in a medical journal), the respected broadsheet peddled the event as fact and elevated it into its editorial.
For de Leon’s trouble, the Inquirer editorial team’s response was one sentence: “We suggest that De Leon read the editorial more closely for its main message.” And, she did. She wrote a response reiterating her questioning of the lack of evidence for the event in the original editorial asking, “What other evidence-less things do you not only take for granted, but are more than willing to broadcast to the public as the ‘truth’?”
The Inquirer’s editorials have often been suspiciously reminiscent of conservative Catholic talking points, such as when it drew the ire of the art community for comparing Mideo Cruz’s Poleteismo piece to “terrorism.” In this piece, the editorial went so far as to explain the theological distinction between veneration and worship, as if to avoid for itself the common accusation by non-Catholics against Catholics of “worshipping saints.”
That the Inquirer spends so much ink on Catholic diatribes isn’t a surprise as it is a frequent winner of Catholic Mass Media Awards (the Inquirer won 3 this year). However, it is curious that even with the seasoned experience for pro-Catholic bias of the editorial team of the Inquirer (including its anti-RH propagandist, Jess Abrera), they couldn’t find any rational response against De Leon’s queries.
The first letter to the editor they published since De Leon about the matter praised the Inquirer for “reporting about Catholicism as it should be.” Interestingly, the author of this letter was herself a contributor to the Inquirer. A commenter on the online version of the letter pointed out that the writer commended the Inquirer for explaining the doctrine of canonization to “our readers”—a telling slip-up.
Just today, the Inquirer published a second letter to the editor, billed as a “rejoinder” to the first one. The letter lauded the Inquirer for helping “bring the Filipino martyr to the attention (and awareness) of many Catholics in the country (and perhaps in other parts of the world)”—at the expense of non-believers of Catholic doctrine. Not surprisingly, this writer has had a writing relationship with the Inquirer, writing twice for Youngblood.
It does seem rather peculiar, but not impossible, for two people with established relations with the Inquirer to selflessly defend the paper of their own volition—saving the Inquirer from getting its hands dirty. Though, the matter of the possibility of more underhanded motives is at least worthy of noting here.
Now, of course the Philippine Daily Inquirer is free to take any position it desires. It is, however, not free to make up its own facts (especially those of a medical nature, which people might take as serious advice to pursue supernatural cures). It is only fair to us non-Catholic paying customers of the Philippine Daily Inquirer for it to finally respond to De Leon and either confirm or deny if it should be more aptly considered as the proud “Catholic Inquirer.”
Image credit: Dance journalists dance!