Tag Archive | "theocracy"

Bishop Conflates Censorship with Secularism, Settles Nothing


ConflateIn an article published in CBCP for Life, Bishop Broderick Pabillo said that the “church hierarchy is entitled to speak and express its opinion on public policies that could affect the welfare of the majority.”

I don’t see anything wrong with this statement. Nor should anyone. What I don’t like is how the article says that this obvious sentiment — that the clergy can criticize the government — somehow “settles the debates pertaining to the constitutional provision on the separation of the church and state.”

What the bishop has done is conflate disallowing criticism of the government with enforcing secularism. Throughout the article, both Pabillo and the writer quoting the bishop make it seem as if secularism asks the Church to keep silent on political matters:

“The separation of the church and state does not imply that members of the clergy are not allowed to criticize the mishaps of politicians in governing the public. We are allowed to criticize them for we are citizens of this nation, too. As Filipinos, it is just right and fitting for us to point out what is wrong in our government… If we would remain silent, we are not doing our rightful duty as citizens of this nation.”

Again, no one is asking the clergy to end their criticism because it is proscribed by secularism. This is not what the public debate on secularism is about.

What secularism advocates ask for is not Church silence but government neutrality. A Church leader, like any other Filipino citizen, is free to say whatever he wants about politicians or policies, however religious or theocratic it sounds.

But if secularism is to be respected, public officials must not do the same. Their words and actions must be secularly motivated — motivations do not privilege one religion above others — or at least appear to be.

What this means is that a public official is not prevented from being motivated by religious convictions whenever they fulfill public duties. But they owe the public — which may or may not share their private convictions — secular justifications for their political actions. “Because my bishop/Bible says so” will no longer do.

This is why many conservative politicians must now resort to secular arguments — based on non-religious reasoning and supposedly scientific evidence — to further their religious agenda.

Although the motivations of these arguments are primarily religious — which is often evident in how little reason and science are actually involved — they can at least be debated legislatively, countered with other secular arguments, and tethered to consequences in the real world that all citizens can appreciate, regardless of religious affiliation.

That politicians make an honest effort to behave politically as though they had no religious bias: This is really all that secularism requires. Unfortunately, many politicians still act like sectarian Church preachers intstead of secular public servants.

This patent sectarianism is really what secularists want to correct. By making it seem like secularists are instead asking to silence the Church, Bishop Pabillo and the article writer cast not only secularists but secularism itself in a bad light.

Pabillo (and the article writer) hasn’t settled any debate on secularism. But he has started a small one in my mind: Either Pabillo doesn’t understand secularism, or he doesn’t want others to.

Posted in Politics, Religion, RH Bill, SecularismComments (1)

Marriage Equality and the Unequal Society


Marriage Equality vs Unequal SocietyBrace yourselves. Marriage Equality is coming. It’s been happening all over the world recently, and it’s only a matter of time that it happens here.

But as with many developments in science and social justice, the conservative Catholic Church and its Pro Life cohorts will do everything to stop it. They’ll be particularly more antsy with the recent loss in the RH battle and a potential loss on divorce also looming.

They’ll explain how marriage equality — we don’t call it same-sex marriage anymore* — is an attack on the traditional marriage, the sanctity of the family, Filipino culture, and human existence itself. They’ll bring out their usual non-sequiturs and one-sided statistics.

And although this especially applies to their flock, the Church will fight so that it applies to everyone else. They have every right to do so, but it shouldn’t matter in a secular democracy. Yet just like “equality,” “secular” and “democracy” are words the Catholic Church has always been allergic to.

They made this very clear a century ago when France first introduced secularism. In response to the 1905 French law on the Separation of the Churches and State, Pope Pius X promulgated Vehementer Nos, an encyclical that called secularism “a thesis absolutely false, a most pernicious error.”

Although it was particularly aimed at secularism, it illuminated the Church’s stance on other issues, showing just why equality, secularism, and democracy are foreign ideas to this foreign institution:

The Church is essentially an unequal society, that is, a society comprising two categories of per sons, the Pastors and the flock, those who occupy a rank in the different degrees of the hierarchy and the multitude of the faithful.

So distinct are these categories that with the pastoral body only rests the necessary right and authority for promoting the end of the society and directing all its members towards that end; the one duty of the multitude is to allow themselves to be led, and, like a docile flock, to follow the Pastors.

The encyclical goes on to explain why secularism has been, is, and always will be denounced by the Roman Catholic Church.** For now, understand that in the same way that the Church fought against secularism until it became the obvious choice to almost everyone, they will do the same against marriage equality. They’ll rehash the same tired arguments they’ve been using to block the measure here and all over the world.

But ultimately, behind the flawed arguments and supposed “science,” what it all boils down to is this: the Church does not think marriage equality is a good idea, so everyone else will just have to obey them. Because in their unequal society, our one duty is to allow ourselves to be led, and, like a docile flock, to follow the Pastors.

_______

* What LGBT couples are asking for is not a special kind of marriage that merits its own moniker (same-sex marriage). All they’re saying is that the right to marry should apply equally to everyone.

** Fans of Vatican II will undoubtedly bring up Dignitatis Humanae, which supposedly corrects the Church’s stand on religious freedom. But one of the last things Pope Benedict XVI did was explain how this wasn’t really the case. But that’s a story for another article.

Posted in Gender Rights, Politics, Religion, SecularismComments (1)

“Your Mother Should Have Used RH,” Says BUHAY Spokesperson


I recorded this video interview with Frank when I got home from COMELEC before writing this post. Some details might be inaccurate, which I hope this post corrects. Toward the end of the video is footage of the BUHAY spokesperson saying the titular statement.

“Your mothers should have aborted you” is so 2010. I’m of course referring to members of Prolife Philippines wishing out loud that we hadn’t been born as we were leaving Manila Cathedral. We were there to listen to a discernment mass on the RH Bill, but weren’t allowed to attend because of the DAMASO shirts we were wearing. Aside from wishing we weren’t alive, a public exorcism on us was also attempted by Eric Manalang, president of Prolife Philippines.

Now it’s 2012, and the Prolife greeting has been updated. It now goes, “Your mother should have used RH.” We learned this yesterday when we expressed our opposition to BUHAY’s party-list accreditation at their COMELEC review hearing. After witnessing the most absurd justification for applying to be a party-list, we had an exchange of words with BUHAY that reflects a lot of what happened in the Manila Cathedral incident of 2010.

It began with a question. The BUHAY spokesperson who had represented them during the hearing approached us and asked, “Are you pro-RH?” “Yes,” answers Kenneth Keng, who had earlier expressed at the hearing our intention to oppose BUHAY’s accreditation. “Then your mother should have used RH. So you wouldn’t be here today.”

At this point, I was approached by another BUHAY member. “Did you go to school?” he asked. “Yes,” I replied. “Then why aren’t you using your education,” he said. He probably meant that my pro-RH position betrayed a lack of education.

I was about to explain how education actually leads to being pro-RH when I saw Ken being approached by several BUHAY members. They were trying to grab his camera away from him. I walked over and learned what was happening. The BUHAY spokesperson complained that Ken had started recording without his permission.

They had also asked whether Ken was with the media. Ken had initially said yes out of fear and confusion; their demeanor had given him the impression that they might harm him. He later clarified that he wasn’t with the media and was just a regular blogger, something that I’d clarified earlier with the BUHAY member I’d been speaking to.

At this point we were all huddled between the elevators and the COMELEC reception, where several security personnel were watching. The BUHAY member I’d been speaking to, the one who asked whether I was educated, started talking. He said that if we weren’t with the media, he doesn’t have to treat us that way, and can just treat us like kanto boys. He repeated this, removing his coat as if preparing for a fight. He told us that he would meet us at our levels as kanto boys and invited us outside.

I clarified: “Just to be clear, are you inviting us to a fist fight outside?” He replied, “Anywhere.” I was actually surprised that he was behaving like this in front of COMELEC security. When they finally got on the elevator, we decided it was probably wise that we stayed. Some members of the COMELEC security thought so, too. They advised us to stay for a bit because the BUHAY members might be waiting for us downstairs with less than good intentions.

Surely enough, they were waiting. As I was exiting the building, the BUHAY spokesperson blocked my path, holding a cameraphone to my face. “Excuse me, I need to get out,” I said. He stands aside after a few moments, keeping the cameraphone on me. He asked me for my name and organization, and I give it to him. At this point, Ken also has his cameraphone out, and we were recording each other (another member had a proper camcorder, too).

With all the cameras turned on I wished that Ken’s was on when the BUHAY spokesperson wished Ken’s mother had used RH. Luckily, he repeated his wish, and we got it on video. At first he said that he didn’t mean anything bad when he said this. After all, he says, isn’t RH a good thing? To this we agree, and I further explain that my parents used RH: after all, it includes family planning, birth spacing, etc.

Then he says that my parents used failed RH, because after all, I am here. By doing so he betrays the malice in his wish. To him failed RH means we are born, and successful RH means we aren’t, and it’s pretty clear which of the two outcomes he’d been wishing for us.

We explain that RH isn’t abortion, which is what he keeps on implying, but he disagrees. He advises us to read the Cairo conference. I explain that the RH Bill and the Cairo Conference are two different things. At this point Atty. Macalintal, who had been mostly quiet this time, left in a car with the BUHAY member who had challenged us to a fist fight.

We also headed for our car, leaving the BUHAY spokesperson alone, waiting for his. As we were leaving, I saw the Manila Cathedral and thought about how similar the event from 2010 was: the wishing we hadn’t been born, the prolifer’s fear of being caught on video, the trying to forcefully take our cameras. I sort of expected the BUHAY spokesperson to shout “Your mothers should have aborted you!” as we were leaving. But then I corrected myself: “Your mothers should have used RH.” Because “Your mothers should have aborted you” is so 2010.

Posted in Politics, Religion, SecularismComments (6)

The Unborn Representatives: How BUHAY Makes a Mockery of the Party-List System


Note: Please also read how BUHAY responded to our opposition of their party-list accreditation in COMELEC.

The party-list system of representation is broken. Want proof? Consider the case of BUHAY party-list.

According to COMELEC, you have to be a member of the sector you claim to represent. BUHAY claims to represent “the unborn, the sick, the disabled and others not capable of protecting themselves alone, through observance of their basic right to live.” Never mind being sick and disabled and incapable of self-protection (all at the same time!). Is even a single BUHAY representative unborn?

Even if we grant for rhetorical purposes that every BUHAY representative is unborn, they would still be disqualified for one simple reason: the unborn is not a sector recognized by COMELEC. This fact was repeated several times at BUHAY’s accreditation hearing at COMELEC yesterday.

And every time the COMELEC official mentioned this, the BUHAY spokesperson would answer the same way: BUHAY representatives actually represent its own political party, which is the one marginalized and underrepresented.

Setting aside how self-serving this reasoning is, does BUHAY actually think that a political party should be considered a sector of society? Let’s humor them a little and pretend that it is. Why is BUHAY party marginalized?

According to their spokesperson, it’s because aside from their party-list seats, they haven’t won any major political positions (senator, president, etc.) in the past elections, so they aren’t a major political party. And according to BUHAY, that means they are marginalized. Poor BUHAY. Since 2004, they’ve only won 7 seats in the House of Representatives.

That’s right. Seven seats in almost as many years have been allotted to the unborn representatives of BUHAY party, each representing the unborn citizens of the Philippines, and of course, that other marginalized and underrepresented sector, the BUHAY party itself. If that can’t convince you that the party-list system is a joke, I don’t know what can.

But there’s hope. COMELEC has been reviewing the current party-list candidates, and from the way they’ve been conducting these accreditation hearings — I’ve witnessed a few — they seem to mean business. I just hope it translates to disqualification, especially in the case of BUHAY and Ang Prolife — another conservative Catholic religious group trying to disguise itself as a political organization.

When we opposed Ang Prolife’s application, I thought nothing could ever beat the absurdity of their claiming to represent OFWs and “the structure of the Filipino family.” Well played, BUHAY party. Well played.

___
Note: This post isn’t meant to be a comprehensive opposition to BUHAY’s application. We’ll leave that to our formal opposition, which we were given 3 days to file, and will post as soon as it’s available. For now, check out Kontradaya’s reasons for objecting to the accreditation of BUHAY (follow the link for other party-list groups they argue should also be disqualified):

Buhay claims to represent the following sectors: the unborn, the sick, the disabled and others not capable of protecting themselves alone, through observance of their basic right to live.

However, none of its present representatives in Congress, and nominees for 2013 elections belong to these sectors.

First representative Mariano Velarde, Jr., the son of El Shaddai’s Mike Velarde, has a personal net worth of P53.326 million for 2011. He does not belong to any of the marginalized and underrepresented sectors Buhay claims to represent. He is not unborn, sick, disabled, nor incapable of protecting himself.

So is second representative Irwin Tieng, whose net worth amounts to P20.054 and whose family owns Solar Sports. He does not belong to any of the marginalized and underrepresented sectors Buhay claims to represent. He is not unborn, sick, disabled, nor incapable of protecting himself.

Second nominee for the 2013 elections is Jose L. Atienza, more famously known as Manila Mayor Lito Atienza. Mayor Atienza served as Manila Mayor from 1998 to 2007. Previous to that, he served as Manila Vice Mayor from 1992 to 1998. He also held other high positions in government, being appointed by former President Gloria Arroyo as the Secretary of Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

Clearly Mayor Atienza can compete for a position in Congress through regular elections. This is in addition to the fact that he does not belong to any of the sectors that Buhay claims to represent, and neither is he marginalized and underrepresented.

Posted in Politics, SecularismComments (2)

Pro-RH Catholics: Please Create a Pro-RH Church


Dear Pro-RH Catholics,

You’ve been asking the Vatican for pro-RH reforms for over four decades. During that time, your leader, the Pope, has made it absolutely clear that to be Catholic means to be anti-RH. You have been called “fake Catholics,” “cafeteria Catholics,” and even “oxymorons.” You have been told that if you cannot obey, you should just leave. Your Pope has answered requests for reforms by saying he prefers searching agnostics over fake believers.

You have no control over what your church officially does and decides. Yet you have fought long and hard to cling to your Catholic identity. I respect that, but I respect even more the fact that you recognize the moral value of RH despite the denigration of your detractors. So I’m suggesting that you consider indulging them.

What if you left the Roman Catholic Church completely and formed your own one? It would be identical to your old church, except for one critical difference: it would be pro-RH officially. Of course, your new church will no longer be recognized by the Vatican.

But what would losing Vatican recognition do anyway? If you cared about the Vatican’s official position, you wouldn’t be pro-RH Catholics. This implies that you don’t think the Vatican is the highest authority.

You probably think that Jesus Christ is, and that He is pro-RH. So don’t you owe it to Jesus to create a church that truly represents Him? If you create a church with pro-RH bishops and priests — and you’ve claimed that there are many of them — don’t you think that Jesus would let them represent Him even without the Pope’s permission?

Surely you don’t think Jesus gave the Vatican unconditional power. If the Catholic Church suddenly taught that child abuse was a sacrament, do you think Jesus would still be OK with them representing Him? Similarly, do you think Jesus would have a problem with good bishops just because they removed the “Roman” in “Roman Catholic”?

So you should have no doubt that Jesus will bless this Pro-RH Church that you are forming. Being a pro-RH God, it’s even reasonable to think He’d bless it even more. Your new church may not be as extravagant as your old church, lacking the expensive decorations and extravagant costumes (and you won’t have billions in reserve for that occasional child abuse settlement). But I don’t think a carpenter’s son who was born in a manger would care much for appearances.

I don’t think Jesus would mind plain silverware.

You may find the different surroundings striking at first, but I’m sure you’ll get used to it soon. Because you can keep almost everything in your new church the same as your old one. A blind person attending a Pro-RH mass wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. At least not until the priest sermons about the importance of informed choice, freedom of conscience, and of course, contraception.

Imagine not having the urge to walk out because you vehemently disagree with your priest. Imagine not feeling tricked whenever you’re asked to kneel, bow your head, and then pray against the RH Bill. Imagine not thinking twice about donating money that could be used to fund anti-RH campaigns. Imagine not feeling cognitive dissonance about supporting an anti-RH institution that claims to represent the pro-RH God you have faith in.

Forming a new church would surely take some courage, not to mention resources. But it wouldn’t take a lot individually if you did it together. If most of you joined this new church, yours would still be the largest church in the Philippines. Since most Catholics are pro-RH, you’ll be bigger than the Roman Catholic church.

The Philippines would now be predominantly Pro-RH Catholic (which it already is anyway). Your new bishops — who will actually represent your RH stance — will have more clout than your old bishops, who can no longer claim to represent 80% of the population.

Knowing the danger of bullying bishops, your new leaders probably won’t use their religious authority to meddle in politics. And they wouldn’t even have to. Because from now on, your representatives will no longer fear pressure from the bishops.

Anti-RH legislators who were just bullied by bishops could change their position. Closeted pro-RH legislators could now openly support the RH Bill. The passage of the RH Bill will finally be a reality, enshrining RH as a fundamental human right. This alone should make you consider forming a pro-RH church. Pro-RH Jesus would be pleased.

Sincerely,

Red

PS

It wouldn’t hurt to disassociate from an organization that censures progressive theologians and nuns, discriminates against women, LGBTs, and non-Catholics, protects pedophile priests more than potential child abuse victims, and thinks that you deserve to burn in Hell.

Posted in Advocacy, Personal, Religion, RH Bill, Secularism, SocietyComments (12)

This Government is Brought to You by Catholicism


“Let all with something to say be free to express themselves. The true and sound will survive. The false and unsound will be vanquished. Government should keep out of the battle and not weigh the odds in favor of one side or the other.” — John Milton

How much would it cost to advertise in government? The question is rhetorical, of course, because such a thing is not allowed, but just imagine for a moment that it were. What publicity a brand could gain from a single event!

Supreme Commercial

Just recently, most major TV and radio stations covered the Corona trial. Live feeds were streamed online, and commentary was all over Facebook and Twitter. Imagine the Senate walls filled with posters of anti-aging and skin-whitening products. Imagine Coke cans or Gatorade bottles on top of every senator-judge’s table. Imagine them wearing race car driver uniforms displaying the logos of their sponsors. Or the prosecution and defense wearing jerseys endorsing competing products. Court-side announcers saying things like, “Senator Sotto’s speech was brought to you by Eat Bulaga,” or, “Senator Bong Revilla’s decision was brought to you by Panday–only in theaters.”

This is absurd in many ways, but I want to focus on the most important one: These public spaces belong to every Filipino, these public servants work for every Filipino, and as national representatives, they represent every Filipino. Senator Enrile endorsing Ray-Ban sunglasses doesn’t mean he alone endorses it. It means 1/24 of the Philippines endorses Ray-Ban. And what does a Coke can on top of every table represent? It means the Philippines endorses Coke.

What about the citizens who prefer Pepsi? Or Dr. Pepper? Or those who don’t care for carbonated drinks at all? Too bad for them. And too bad for the companies who sell those marginalized products. With their competition getting such prime advertising, they’d more likely be outsold in the market.

All they could do is ask for this unfair practice of government advertising to end. And who would they ask? The same representatives who are already endorsing the products of — and receiving money from — the dominant companies.

This is obviously wrong. For companies to compete fairly, and for consumers to get the most of a fair market, the government has to stay out of it. It’s unfair to make laws in favor of one company — or against another — but so is mere advertising that shows preference for one over the other. Such is the power of advertising, and companies would pay millions — if they could — to get public servants to publicize their product.

The government doesn’t have to make laws that promote a product to give a company an unfair advantage over its competition. Just endorsing products, however indirectly, would do the job. Pretty simple, right?

I found Jesus — in COMELEC

So why is this concept lost on so many when it is applied to religions? How is it fair for statues of Jesus and Mary to be displayed instead of statues of Shiva, Vishnu, or any of the millions of Hindu gods? What makes it fair for Christian prayers to be said and Christian ceremonies to be performed instead of Wiccan chants and Pagan rituals? What makes commercial advertising different from religious advertising?

Religion is a business, and every church is competing for the business of believers. When there is no competition for business, a monopoly exists. Such a religious monopoly is called a theocracy, and the last time the Catholic Church had it they used a viral marketing strategy called the “Inquisition & Crusades.” It was a killer campaign.

The Catholic Church threatened, tortured, and murdered those who wouldn’t buy their products. They destroyed fakes by burning books–and their authors. (It’s interesting to note that the Bible was one of those books.) And they waged wars against companies who threatened to bring their exports into their monopolized market.

It wasn’t just bad for the competition. The customers, aside from being under constant surveillance and afraid for their lives, didn’t have any say about the product they were forced to buy. They couldn’t complain. The customer was always wrong.

Those who had no problem with the product (Catholicism) couldn’t be called informed buyers because they often had nothing else to choose from. And even if they did, it was forbidden to choose. Those who did were branded heretics (from the Greek hairetikos meaning able to choose) and were given a preview of the Hell they were condemned to.

Today, the Catholic Church can no longer use such methods to maintain their monopoly. But lucky for them, they don’t have to. For centuries, all that threatening, torturing, and killing to sell their products gained momentum.

Even without so much Church intervention, parents, teachers, and other authority figures perpetuated the hard selling to their children, and their children would sell to their children’s children, and so on, generation after generation. We call that shared upbringing culture, and we call that momentum tradition.

When Rep. Mong Palatino proposed a bill promoting religious freedom in government offices, all he did was ban religious advertising to ensure that religious businesses competed on a level playing field. When religions compete on a level playing field and citizens are truly free to choose which religious products to purchase (or not) — this free market condition is called secularism.

Critics cried that he was attacking Filipino culture and tradition, severing a link to some glorious past worth perpetuating. But I don’t think they want to go back to those good old days of religious monopoly. There’s a reason it’s called the Dark Ages.

___
Thanks to Jeiel for the CJ trial image.

Posted in Politics, Religion, SocietyComments (3)

A Firestorm from Tyrants: Why Rep. Palatino’s Bill Doesn’t Threaten Religious Freedom


I found Jesus — in COMELEC

When I read Cito Beltran’s Philippine Star column criticizing Rep. Mong Palatino’s recent bill, “The Religious Freedom in Government Offices Act,” I didn’t want to dignify it with a response.

But a recent editorial published in The Freeman is giving me second thoughts. Maybe Beltran’s way of thinking is less anomalous than I’d initially thought among the writers of the Philippine Star (The Freeman is published in Cebu by the Philippine Star.)

In a single column, gross misunderstanding of secularism is forgivable, but in an editorial it cannot be ignored. It says that the entire editorial staff of the Freeman — and to some degree the Philippine Star, who published the piece on their website — doesn’t appreciate the constitutionally enshrined separation of church and state.

Since the opinion of Beltran is similar enough to that of the Freeman editorial, I believe refuting the latter is enough to refute both, as well as the many comments online that are based on the same flawed premises. I’ll comment on the editorial in full to avoid any misrepresentation. (Editorial text is italicized and underlined.)

***

There is a proposal — House Bill 6330 — now pending in Congress that seeks to prohibit the conduct of religious ceremonies and the display of religious symbols in public places and in government offices and buildings.

This is probably the only sound statement in the entire editorial.

The proposal, entitled “The Religious Freedom in Government Offices Act,” may sound innocuous enough. But in reality, it is an assault on the Roman Catholic faith…

I find it interesting that secularism is often seen as an assault on Catholicism. Because one of the first religions to benefit from secularism is Catholicism. Catholics escaped from religious persecution in Europe to America where secularism protected them from it.

This allowed Catholicism not only to survive but to thrive. It seems that many Catholics don’t know this, or are simply forgetting the fact now that Catholicism is the dominant religion.

They’re also ignorant of the plight of their fellow Catholics who are still begging for secularism in the parts of the world where they’re still being persecuted.

…which is the only religion known to practice the acts sought to be banned by the bill

Freeman thinks that this fact shows the discriminatory nature of the bill. But it’s precisely this fact that makes the bill’s necessity so blatantly obvious. Their criticism of the bill would be marginally more valid if different symbols and ceremonies from other religions were allowed equal time and space.

The fact that Catholicism is the only religion out of hundreds — even thousands if you count each denomination — exclusively in violation makes the inequity more obvious.

Actually, the bill violates constitutional guarantees against the passage of laws that curtail religious freedoms.

Secularism and religious freedom are two sides of the same coin–you can’t have one without having the other. Religious freedom is not absolute. When it comes to public space — which ideally belongs to each citizen equally — a citizen can’t practice their religion if it means that another is prevented from doing so. One religion that occupies public space with a display or a ceremony prevents all other religions from doing so.

Unless each religion is given equal use of the public space — which is impractical, if not impossible — the public space is best used secularly. Public space can even be called secular space without doing damage to the secularism and religious freedom mandated by our Constitution.

Nevertheless, there is a need to send a message to the bill’s author, Kabataan partylist Rep. Raymond Palatino, to stop his nonsense.

It’s quite common to dismiss Rep. Palatino’s arguments as nonsense or call him a loon or an atheist or an attention-whore. Name-calling, ad hominem, and other irrelevant arguments are used by critics to distract from the real issues, trying to project a confidence in their assertions which actually betrays a lack of it.

The bill attempts to use the bigoted argument that not everyone is Catholic and therefore any Catholic symbols should be removed from places where there are non-Catholics.

I knew the straw man would pop up sooner or later. The bill refers to public places–not all places.

What the bill’s author overlooks is that the acts he wants banned are there not by law but by common consent.

I don’t think public servants ever signed a contract that says they are OK with Catholic symbols and ceremonies. And even if they did, it wouldn’t be enough because public spaces do not belong to public servants–they belong to every Filipino citizen. I’m not aware of any recent referendum that resulted in “common consent.”

There being no decree on record mandating religious ceremonies or displays, it follows that no law should also be passed to curtail them.

There are no decrees on record mandating murder, theft, rape, graft and corruption, child trafficking, sexual abuse, or any criminal act. Therefore…

These things happen as a matter of fact and it is the fault of no one that the Philippines simply happens to be predominantly Catholic.

Everything that happens does so as a matter of fact. It is the fault of no one — no single person — that the Philippines is poor or that children still die of hunger. Each individual is at fault for his fellow human beings to some degree, and for better or worse, we are responsible for the society we live in. Yes, these things happen as a matter of fact, but that does not mean we shouldn’t do anything to change it.

Palatino forgets that non-Catholics are not being forced to participate in Catholic ceremonies or pay obeisance to Catholic icons.

In at least one case that we know of, they are. Also, you don’t need to force someone to remove their right to choose. Sure, non-Catholics (and even Catholic for that matter) don’t have to participate or pay obeisance, but many of them would rather not have to make the choice (“Should I pray with them or just wait for five minutes?) or would prefer to choose otherwise (“I’d rather use this time praying talking to my boss about something really urgent.”)

Truth is, until Palatino came up with his bright idea, things in this country have stayed unruffled by religious tensions born of such nonsense.

Again with the sarcasm and insults. Anyway, the lack of religious wars or religious terrorism doesn’t mean religious tensions don’t exist. Most acts of discrimination — racism, sexism, bigotry — are subtle and nonphysical, but it does not mean they don’t count as violence. On the contrary, these tend to be more pernicious, and often serve as seeds for the physical violence that could follow.

As a partylist representative, Palatino gained access to Congress through the “backdoor” so to speak, on the strength of nothing more than two percent of the vote. That is hardly mandate enough to tackle an issue that affects 80 percent of the country, more than he can chew really.

More irrelevant insults. Not only on Rep. Palatino, but on the partylist system itself. Also, it’s another fallacy: the appeal to popularity.

A final word to Palatino — if it aint broke, don’t fix it. These matters took root long before even his great great grandfather was born. He can’t just barge in as if he owns the place, or is he prepared to face a firestorm if he insists.

It’s somehow appropriate that they ended with yet another fallacy: the appeal to tradition. Many of the things we now accept as evil took root long before the great great grandfathers of those who fought against those evils — slavery, sexism, racism, the Inquisition — were born. Rep. Palatino is not acting “as if he owns the place.”

He’s reminding Filipinos that public spaces belong to every citizen equally. Rep. Palatino may be “courting a firestorm,” but it won’t be coming from the Filipinos who understand secularism. It will be from the tyrants who think they own the place just because they happen to be Catholic.

Posted in Politics, Religion, SocietyComments (27)

Holy Hubris: Vatican Makes it Impossible for Jesus to Change the Church


Paul's revelation made Christianity what it is today.

This is not satire. Although it’s the kind of news that is perfect for mocking the authoritarian nature of the Catholic Church, everything I’m about to tell you is factually true. You can even read this official Vatican news article and leave it open just so you’re sure that I’m not kidding. Ready? Good.

The Vatican has publicized official guidelines to verify whether apparitions — such as Jesus appearing to you in person — and revelations — such as Jesus talking to you in a dream — are authentic. The procedure is strict, and the criteria is comprehensive, but what it ultimately boils down to is this:

If Jesus — or whichever Heavenly character — tells you something that contradicts the teachings of the Catholic Church, the apparition or revelation is fake. You are either a lunatic or a liar — or both — but you certainly did not communicate with the Lord. When God communicates to you through his messengers, He can only tell you something the Catholic Church teaches — nothing more, nothing less.

Pope Benedict XVI puts it this way:

The criterion for judging the truth of a private revelation is its orientation to Christ himself. If it leads us away from him, then it certainly does not come from the Holy Spirit, who guides us more deeply into the Gospel, and not away from it. Private revelation is an aid to this faith, and it demonstrates its credibility precisely because it refers back to the one public revelation.

Ecclesiastical approval of a private revelation essentially means that its message contains nothing contrary to faith and morals.

If these terms are too vague, the actual guidelines put it more concretely. To be considered authentic, a revelation must be “true theological and spiritual doctrine and immune from error.” If it contains “doctrinal errors” the revelation is definitely false.

Consider the following hypothetical example. (If this were satire, I would’ve presented this fiction as fact.)

***

A Catholic mother is deeply troubled about her Church’s teachings on contraception. She already has eight children and cannot afford to raise another. But five of her children have already proven that natural family planning doesn’t work for her. She desperately wants to try birth control pills.

So she prays in Church for weeks and weeks until one night, Jesus appears to her in a dream. “Pills are OK,” says her Lord and Savior. And she wakes up unsure what the dream meant. She prays to God for guidance and just as she was saying “in Jesus name,” the Lord appears next to her bed with a box of pills in his outstretched hand. She wipes the tears from her eyes and the next moment, she finds herself alone in her bed, the box of pills on it.

She tells her friends and relatives about what happened and soon the whole country knows about the miracle, thanks to both social media and then mainstream media multiplying like wildfire the effect of word of mouth. Within a week Catholics around the world know about the topic that has been trending on Twitter and other social networks since the day it happened.

On the 8th day, a CBCP – Vatican joint task force arrive at the scene to investigate. The miracle site is quarantined from the public until further notice. After three days, the Vatican release a resolution:

The subject, Maria Magdalena, has been found lacking in “docility towards Ecclesiastical Authority” according to article I section A-1 of our criteria. The doctrinal content of the alleged revelation is not “immune from error” and is a “doctrinal error attributed to God himself” according to article 1 sections A-1 and B-b.

It has also been discovered that the subject is in deep financial debt, and the donations she has received is sufficient motive to prove a “search for profit or gain strictly connected to the fact” according to article I section B-c. Lastly, with knowledge the teaching on the sin of contraception, Magdalena has admitted to consuming a week’s worth of pills, a “gravely immoral act” under article I section B-d.

With the lack of positive criteria and preponderance of negative criteria, we find the alleged Alabang apparition inauthentic. This site will remain under observation for two months or until the cultic devotion has subsided, whichever comes first.

***

Although the events are fictional, the guidelines used by the task force are real. Their actions may be different from what I depicted, but the outcome would be the same. Maria’s apparition would, by account of its doctrinal error, be dismissed as hallucination.

And consider the possibility that it was actually Jesus Himself who visited Maria that day. Do you think the Vatican would behave differently?

Religion is founded on divine revelation. Christianity is what it is thanks in no small part to the writings of St. Paul. Most Christians I’ve spoken to don’t even know that Paul never met Jesus in real life — not even once. All that he knows about Jesus was given to him in a personal revelation that no one else could verify.

Armed with nothing but his own personal miracle, Paul corrected the teachings of Jesus other disciples, the ones who actually lived and worked with Jesus, the ones who heard his actual words and not some spiritual substitute. What humility it must have took for them to accept Paul’s message!

Today, according to the Catholic Church, such miracles are no longer possible. This gives “infallibility” a whole new meaning. It’s official: even God’s omnipotence is not powerful enough to overcome the Vatican’s hubris.

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Straight from the Horse’s Mouth: The Lies of Ang ProLife


Red Tani called out Eric Manalang for lying at the Ang ProLife COMELEC party-list accreditation hearing. But don’t just take his word for it. We have video footage of the hearing.


As an aside, its interesting to note that the presiding judges, the Hon. Lucinito Tagle and the Hon. Elias Yusoph, were involved in the Commission on Election’s boneheaded decision to violate church-state separation by rejecting the Ang Ladlad partylist on religious bases. I’d hope at the very least they would learn their lesson on the separation of church and state from the Supreme Court when it overturned the COMELEC decision.

Besides Ang ProLife not even coming close to the requirements for a party-list, establishing Ang ProLife as one is tantamount to establishing a political entity in Congress that represents religious interests. A party-list that would be intent on enshrining their religious values in our laws. A party-list that wishes to use the force of law to impose their religious morals on the entire country.

Posted in Politics, Religion, RH Bill, Secularism, VideoComments (3)

From Pro-Lies to Puro Lies: Why Ang Prolife Lied to COMELEC


Eric Manalang swore under oath: to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help him God. But it appears that God didn’t help because as we told you yesterday, he lied. Now I’m going to tell you exactly why he lied — because if he had told COMELEC the truth about Ang Prolife, their petition, then and there, would have been rejected.

Because Ang Prolife goes against the core principles of the Party-list system:

It is a mechanism of proportional representation in the election of representatives to the House of Representatives from marginalized or underrepresented national, regional and sectoral parties, or organizations or coalitions thereof registered with the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

It is part of the electoral process that enables small political parties and marginalized and underrepresented sectors to obtain possible representation in the House of Representatives, which traditionally is dominated by parties with big political machinery.

From this, we can see that to check whether a group deserves Party-list accreditation, we must ask three questions:

  1. Do they represent a marginalized group?
  2. Do they represent an underrepresented group?
  3. Do they lack “(big) political machinery”?

The answer to all three is “no,” and I’ll show you why.

For starters, read Ang Prolife’s official Party-list declaration. In ten pages, they make it absolutely clear that their primary purpose is to oppose the RH bill — and other such “DEATH” bills — and to ensure that such laws will never be legislated.

Their introductory principles are peppered with vague and religious statements, but eventually they talk about what they’ll do in concrete terms:

Ang Prolife… against all legislation and policies that seek to legalize or institutionalize, among others:

Abortion
Un-reproductive Health Rights
Divorce
Same-Sex Unions
Depopulation
Radical Feminism
Public Child Sex Education
Pornography
Euthanasia

We can see that two of these — un-reproductive health rights [sic] and public child sex education — are provisions of the RH bill, while two others — abortion and radical feminism — are what anti-RH groups perceive to be the RH Bill’s direct implications. Almost half the list then is RH-related, and if we consider their slippery slope thinking — RH will inevitably lead to others “DEATH” bills — then the entire list is an anti-RH advocate’s nightmare.

Which is exactly the group Ang Prolife actually aims to represent: anti-RH advocates.

But are anti-RH advocates marginalized? Are they underrepresented? Are they lacking in political machinery? History says no. Almost two decades of fighting for an RH law tells us that if anything, anti-RH advocates are overrepresented. Even the more prominent members of Ang Prolife will tell you this themselves. Not in those words, of course.

But ask them what they think will happen if the RH Bill is finally put to a vote and you’ll invariably get the same answer: “The RH Bill will not pass because we have the numbers.” That is, they claim they have more representatives in both houses of Congress, at least more than the pro-RH side.

And it’s easy to see just how committed anti-RH legislators are — from merely delaying the debates the way Team Delay has to saying that they’re staking their careers to stop the bill’s passage as Senator Sotto has. Can anyone honestly say the anti-RH is politically underrepresented?

They may argue that these anti-RH legislators are not directly affiliated with Ang Prolife. But that would once again be a lie. Two congressmen — William Irwin C. Tieng and Mariano Michael M. Velarde of Buhay party-list [Life (!) party-list] — are active members of Pro Life Philippines’ board of trustees. So is Buhay party-list’s secretary-general, Wilfrido Villarama.

Sure, Prolife Philippines is not the same entity as Ang Prolife, but with the same people and principles guiding both groups, this might as well be a distinction without a difference. Compare the Ang Prolife partylist declaration with the issues and principles in Prolife Philippines’ website. (You’ll probably find plagiarism, but then again, you can’t plagiarize yourself.)

We can even go further than saying Prolife Philippines and Ang Prolife is one and the same. They may do their best to deny it — in fact this is one of the first things they had to do — but Ang Prolife, if accredited, will be the CBCP party-list.

This is what logically follows from the kind of religious obedience Ang Prolife’s members give to their bishops in the CBCP. The similarities in their principles are not merely a correlation or coincidence. The relationship is causal. Whatever the CBCP teaches (or commands) Ang Prolife will follow. This is of course unstated in their declaration, but ask anyone in Ang Prolife if they have the ability to dissent with anything the CBCP says and you’ll get the same answer.

And even if the CBCP is not exactly the same as Ang Prolife (at least not on paper) the Catholic bishops are among the anti-RH citizens Ang Prolife aims to represent. And ideologically, the CBCP is the main source and promoter of every principle Ang Prolife wants to promulgate. It would be fair then to ask the same questions of the CBCP and the position they represent: are they marginalized, underrepresented, or lacking in political machinery? I won’t even justify the question with an answer.

It becomes clear then why Eric Manalang had to lie under oath and say (initially) that they had no plans about the RH Bill and that they would primarily represent the 10 million families with members who are OFWs. Telling the truth — that Ang Prolife is the political arm of Prolife Philippines — would get them an outright rejection.

One thing that baffles me though is the forethought (or lack thereof) they put into their lying. With all the effort they put into trying to convince COMELEC that they represent OFW families, they should have dedicated more space to OFW issues in their 9-page document. As it stands, they only put a single sentence:

Legislate entrepreneurial education programs to benefit families of Overseas Contract Workers.

I think we’ll have to change our term of endearment from “Pro-Lies” to “Puro Lies.”

Posted in Politics, Religion, SocietyComments (1)

Dear CBCP: Take Corona’s Challenge First (An Open Letter)


Dear CBCP,

Some of your bishops have challenged Corona’s accusers to sign his waiver. Bishop Pabillo said that “there is really something wrong when they want a person to disclose his dollar accounts but his accusers refuse to do the same or don’t want to be transparent.” Your former president, Oscar Cruz, clarified that your message was to let people “know who have no sin and [let them] throw the first stone.”

You are saying that only those who are blameless can challenge others or throw blame. Since you have challenged Corona’s accusers, you must think that you yourselves are blameless. In the terms of Corona’s waiver, this means you think you have no ill-gotten wealth to hide. But you are mistaken.

No one knows ill-gotten wealth like you do, because you have founded your Church on ill-gotten wealth. Literally. Your organization wouldn’t be where it is today if it weren’t for the billions your predecessors stole from the Philippine government.

In case you’ve forgotten, I’ll remind you. When your former colleagues, the Spaniards, colonized us, they stole lands that belonged to Filipinos and gave it to your friars. These friar lands allowed you to control everything: business, education, politics, etc. So aside from money and property, you also gained power. You used this power to further amass wealth that went beyond the original value of the lands that were stolen.

When the first Philippine Congress was established, one of their first plans was to take back what was rightfully ours — to confiscate the land that was stolen and then redistribute it among Filipinos. But unfortunately, their plans were thwarted by another colonizer: the Americans. They would eventually give us back our freedom, but they didn’t give us back our property — well, not really. Instead, they did what capitalists do best: sell it to us.

Malolos Congress in Barasoain Church

Before they could do that, they had to take it back from you. But instead of just taking it away — something they could have done without much difficulty — they again did what capitalists do best: buy it from you. William Howard Taft, the first head of the Philippine Commission, went to Rome to ask your infallible leader for permission to buy the friar lands so that it could be given (i.e. sold) back to us. Your Pope agreed, and in 1903, the friar lands, some 166,000 hectares were bought for $7,239,784.66.

You may have lost your lands, but you got a ton of money in return. Add that to the profit you’d already made on those properties — and the power you consolidated through it — and it’s clear how you’ve become one of the richest and most powerful organizations in the Philippines today.

It’s difficult to put a price on your ill-gotten political power, but the money is another story. For starters, we can calculate how much you got for the sale of the friar lands. According to one CPI inflation calculator, the purchase price of $7,239,784.66 would now be worth $168,259,177.12 (PHP7,235,144,616.16) — if it was purchased in 1913, which is as far back as the calculator goes. Surely it would be more if we could calculate based on the 1903 amount.

Next we can check your investments in publicly registered companies. This has already been done, and conservative estimates put your investments at over P18 billion. We don’t even know how much you’ve invested in private companies, and if Corona has taught us one thing, there’s another way you could’ve hidden enormous sums of money: dollar accounts.

By the time the Americans introduced their currency in our country, you already had considerable wealth, and it’s not unlikely that you’d think like he did: you invested in US dollars. There weren’t big corporations to invest in back then, so you probably converted a considerable amount. And considering how you have nothing against the financial institution — you have PHP18 billion invested in it after all — your dollars are likely deposited safely in dollar accounts: the same accounts you’re challenging congressmen to publicize.

Rep. Faye Ferriol takes Corona's challenge

Of course, I don’t have to speculate so much if you’d just sign Corona’s waiver. Now that I think about it, you could take the moral high ground and create a waiver of your own, disclosing not only your dollar accounts but also your public and private investments, business affiliations, everything.

Because as far as I’m concerned, most of your wealth is ill-gotten. Your wealth was built on money that was stolen from the Philippine government by two foreign ones. The theft may be centuries old, but it doesn’t change the fact that a crime is a crime, or in religious terms, a sin is a sin. Even your God does not unconditionally forgive a sin simply because it was done long ago (e.g. Original Sin). So I’m sure you’ll understand that although many have forgotten, you don’t deserve to be forgiven. Not by God, and certainly not by the Filipino people.

You may try you hardest to hide this fact by casting the blame — and the spotlight — on someone else. You’ve long been very active in pushing for agrarian reform. You’ve been preaching the idea that the lands should be taken from illegitimate owners and redistributed among its rightful owners. This is a worthy cause, and I commend you for understanding the idea of rightful ownership.

But why can’t you understand that every single peso of your billions is a peso that belongs to the Filipino people? Not only should you publicize your ill-gotten wealth, you should do the “Christian” thing and give it back as I’m sure Jesus would want you to. Otherwise, you’ll be contradicting your calls for transparency and fairness — not to mention your vow of poverty. You may lose much, but only by doing so can you rightly call yourselves a Church of the Poor.

 

Sincerely,

Red Tani

___

Image credits: 1, 2, 3

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Primacy of Conscience in the Prison of the Church


Senator Miriam Santiago’s theological argument for the Reproductive Health Bill relies on the Catholic doctrine called “primacy of conscience.” But some conservative Catholics think her understanding is flawed, one of her many “booboos” intended to “mislead faithful Catholics.”

Is Sen. Santiago misleading Catholics when she argues that primacy of conscience allows Catholics to dissent on the RH Bill? Or are conservative Catholics just defensive because she found a loophole that allows Catholics to be progressive in such issues?

The answer is complicated, so I’ll try to state it simply before expounding. Primacy of conscience means that a Catholic must act consistently with her[1] conscience. However, a Catholic must also have a conscience that’s consistent with the teachings of the Church. Taken by itself, primacy of conscience gives Catholics freedom. Taken in context, it gives Catholics freedom to do what the Church tells them.

Conscience and Contraception

Consider contraception. The Church teaches that contraception is inherently evil. Catholics have an obligation to believe this — to make it part of their conscience. When a Catholic fails to believe this — or hold it as definitive — she is fully responsible for this sin (failure to believe) and is no longer in full communion with the Church[2]. When she uses a condom, she acts according to her conscience. Due to primacy of conscience, the sinful action cannot be fully blamed on her — she’s only fully responsible for the sin of doubt.

Yes, she had freedom to use contraception — she does have free will (another complicated doctrine) — and was even right in doing so according to primacy of conscience. But she did not have freedom to believe that contraception was OK — primacy of conscience only applies to actions, not beliefs.

In a nutshell, it was right to act according to her conscience, but wrong to form her conscience independent of the Church.

Cardinal Pell

Conscience and Confusion

If I failed to explain that simply enough, you can’t blame me — primacy of conscience is one of the most easily misunderstood Catholic doctrines. This is why Cardinal George Pell, Archbishop of Melbourne, has been fighting against the doctrine for years:

“The doctrine of the primacy of conscience should be quietly ditched . . . because too many Catholic youngsters have concluded that values are personal inventions.” Furthermore, the primacy of conscience is “a dangerous and misleading myth.” In fact, according to Pell, “in the Catholic scheme of things, there’s no such thing as primacy of conscience.”

Cardinal Pell is not alone. Although he doesn’t want to ditch the doctrine, Pope John Paul II understands how misleading this doctrine can be:

There is a tendency to grant to the individual conscience the prerogative of independently determining the criteria of good and evil and then acting accordingly… To the affirmation that one has a duty to follow one’s conscience is unduly added the affirmation that one’s moral judgment is true merely by the fact that it has its origin in the conscience.

— Pope John Paul II, Papal Encyclical Veritatis Splendor

The Vatican also acknowledges this confusion by warning of the “mistaken notion of autonomy of conscience, rejection of the Church’s authority and her teaching [emphasis mine]” which leads to erroneous judgment.

Conscience and Obligation

As Pope John Paul II explained, the confusion comes from extending primacy of conscience from the realm of actions to the realm of beliefs. And because one acts as one believes, Catholics have the obligation to educate their beliefs first:

Although each individual has a right to be respected in his own journey in search of the truth, there exists a prior moral obligation, and a grave one at that, to seek the truth and to adhere to it once it is known. As Cardinal John Henry Newman, that outstanding defender of the rights of conscience, forcefully put it: “Conscience has rights because it has duties”

Here Pope John Paul II explains that Catholics have a right to follow their conscience because they have a duty to follow the Church. And in case you’re wondering why I equated seeking the truth with following the Church, he made it very clear:

The Church’s Magisterium also teaches the faithful specific particular precepts and requires that they consider them in conscience as morally binding… When people ask the Church the questions raised by their consciences, when the faithful in the Church turn to their Bishops and Pastors, the Church’s reply contains the voice of Jesus Christ, the voice of the truth about good and evil.

But what about the current pope? Like many progressive Catholics, Sen. Santiago often uses Pope Benedict’s following statement:

Above the pope as an expression of the binding claim of church authority,” writes Ratzinger, stands one’s own conscience, which has to be obeyed first of all, if need be against the demands of church authority.

But that’s only part of the picture. Taken by itself, it does seem like the pope’s statement allows Catholics to dissent. But taken in context, Pope Benedict’s statement is consistent with those of Pope John Paul II and official Vatican teaching. He explains that although following conscience is a duty and is never wrong, informing conscience is also a duty, and neglecting to do so is always wrong:

It is never wrong to follow the convictions one has arrived at—in fact, one must do so. But it can very well be wrong to have come to such askew convictions in the first place… The guilt lies then in a different place, much deeper—not in the present act, not in the present judgment of conscience but in the neglect of my being which made me deaf to the internal promptings of truth. For this reason, criminals of conviction like Hitler and Stalin are guilty.

— Pope Benedict XVI (then Fr. Ratzinger) while serving as Chair of Dogmatic Theology at the University of Tübingen in 1968

Conscience and Clarification

There are two variables at play here. Let’s call them the two duties of conscience:

  1. Educate your conscience.
  2. Obey your conscience.

Chains Church

Primacy of conscience only applies to the second duty, and fulfilling it is not complicated: following your conscience is right, not following it is wrong. But primacy of conscience does not apply to the first duty. For this, primacy of Church is the rule: believing the Church is right, not believing it is wrong. With this, we come up with the duties of conscience according to the Catholic Church:

  1. Believe what the Church says should be in your conscience.
  2. Obey your conscience.

And if your conscience is consistent with what the Church says — and Catholics have a moral obligation to ensure this[2] — then we finally have this:

  1. Obey the Church.

Where did the primacy of conscience go? This is what our investigation has finally revealed. In the words of Cardinal Pell, “in the Catholic scheme of things, there’s no such thing as primacy of conscience.” At least not in any meaningful sense that actually grants Catholics freedom. Because as Rosa Luxemburg said, freedom is always the freedom of dissenters.

In the Catholic scheme of things, Catholics have a duty to obey the Church. But the clergy won’t tell you this. They’d prefer to tell the laity that their only duty is to believe, and I think progressive Catholics would prefer this, too. Why? Because Catholics are proud and even honored to be called believers. What do you call someone who is bound to obey?

_______

[1] I’ll use the female pronoun because it’s RH and also to remind you that we’re celebrating 100 years of International Women’s Day.
[2] The Catholic Church requires all Catholics to accept three kinds of truths:

  1. truths that are divinely revealed or dogmatic teachings
  2. truths that are taught infallibly by the Pope or the authentic ordinary Magisterium (also called the ordinary universal Magisterium) or definitive doctrines; and
  3. truths that are taught fallibly (in a non-definitive way) but authoritatively by the Pope or the authentic ordinary Magisterium or authoritative, non-definitive doctrines.

You must be wondering why truths should even be categorized. Isn’t something either truth or not truth at all? The reason is there are different degrees of acceptance required for each truth — and corresponding punishments for failing to do so:

  1. dogmatic teachings are to be believed; failing to believe is heresy, which warrants automatic excommunication.
  2. definitive doctrines are to be held definitively; failing to hold definitively excludes Catholics from full communion with the Church. I wrote about the implications of this in “The Penalty for Pro-RH Catholics.”
  3. authoritative, non-definitive doctrines are to be accepted at a level that matches the importance of the doctrine; failing to accept warrants punishment of the same level, depending on the importance of the doctrine.

[3] Source of the Satu Mare Chains Church image.

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On Dicks and Double Standards: Misplaced Reactions to Misplaced Phalluses


An artist puts a penis on a poster of Jesus and on a symbol of the Christian cross. A priest puts a penis inside the mouth and vagina of a 17-year-old girl. Which is more offensive? Which is more deserving of a Christian’s disgust and damnation?

When conservative Catholics learned of Mideo Cruz’s juxtaposition of Jesuses and phalluses in an art gallery in the Cultural Center of the Philippines, they were furious. They wanted heads to roll — at least Mideo’s — and heads to resign — whoever was in charge of displaying Mideo’s blasphemy.

They wrote and sent hate mail, hate text, and even death threats, harassing anyone who had the slightest thing to do with Mideo’s sacrilege. They created Facebook groups and pages to express their hate for Mideo and to get others to hate him just as much. They condemned artist and artwork, saying these were not artist and artwork, even lecturing experts on what it means to be both. They vandalized Mideo’s “artwork” and called the violence justified. They called for a Senate investigation and even a national Day of Penance, showing how the entire country should be angry at and sorry for what Mideo did to their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

But Mideo never really hurt anyone — Jesus least of all — with his work. The degree of hurt brought about by offense is debatable, but one thing is clear: he did not hurt anyone physically.

Compare that to what was done to a girl who was hurt so badly she now has to hide behind a fake name. “Leah” filed charges of rape, acts of lasciviousness, and child abuse against Fr. Raul Cabonce of St. Anne Parish in Tubay, Agusan del Norte.

If we’re to believe Leah, Fr. Cabonce forcefully molested her on several occasions, groping her private parts despite her protestations. Fr. Cabonce forced Leah to perform oral sex at least twice. He did this so violently that he made her gums bleed. The sexual harassment and assault eventually escalated to rape.

Talking about an experience like this would be difficult for anybody, but Fr. Cabonce made sure it would be torture for Leah. He threatened to curse Leah and her family if she told anyone. He also made sure Leah saw the guns in his room whenever he sexually assaulted her. Spiritual and physical blackmail.

For what he’s allegedly done, all that Fr. Cabonce got was a transfer to a different diocese, far away from his former servant and sexual object, safe and comfy in a Bishop’s palace.

How did conservative Catholics react to the news of Fr. Cabonce and Leah? What was the reaction of those who so furiously condemned Mideo and the CCP board? Did they send hate mail and death threats? Did they create Facebook groups and pages? Did they doubt Fr. Cabonce’s priesthood or question the authority of those who decided he could be one? Did they ask anyone to resign? Did they commit violence and call it justified? Did they call for a Senate investigation, Day of Penance, or even a public apology?

Mideo Cruz put phallic symbols on a symbol of Jesus and a symbol of his cross. None of the symbols refused. None of the symbols got hurt. Fr. Cabonce forced his actual penis into a living 17-year-old girl’s actual mouth. He eventually forced his actual penis into her actual vagina. In both instances, the girl refused. In both instances, the girl got hurt.

Which is more offensive? Which is more deserving of a Christian’s disgust and damnation?
image by frisno

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Apology NOT accepted


(I stand with the new PCSO, Marge Juico and the President)

There is something wrong with the universe. A group of Bishops have sought moral absolution from a bunch of politicians, in a gallery crowded by the Catholic supporters, after some heavy lobbying with the politicians beforehand. Does it surprise anyone that the absolution was given? The CBCP is economically powerful. Church and affiliate Catholic groups are the top stockholders in companies such as the Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI), Philex Mining Corporation (PX), San Miguel Corporation (SMC), Ayala Corporation (AC), and Phinma Corporation (PHN) according to the latest data submitted to the Philippine Stock Exchange. Apart from its economic power the Church remains a powerful social institution.

The Senate Committee hearing, looking into the unconstitutional use of charity funds in the grant of vehicles to 7 Bishops, was a clinic in sycophancy, hypocrisy and farce.

The day before, the CBCP issued the same apology I hear erring husbands give to their wives. These are the similarities: Read the full story

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