Tag Archive | "Vatican"

The Government That Prays Together Steals Together

Senate Prayer

How does one know that a politician accused of plunder is a devout Catholic? Don’t worry — they’ll tell you. One even put a Bible quote on a shirt — Bong Revilla’s had the following on his the day he surrendered:

“The LORD is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?”

This kind of religious gesture is usually shorthand for, “I’m not corrupt, I’m Catholic, for Christ’s sake!”

But a recent study concluded that if you’re a Catholic politician in a predominantly Catholic country, you’re probably corrupt. I had read several studies that confirm the correlation between religiosity and other signs of societal dysfunction.

But this most recent one, titled “A Cross-National Investigation into the Effects of Religiosity on the Pervasiveness of Corruption,” went a bit further. It argues that religion, instead of just being correlated with corruption, actually promotes it.

Secularism and Societal Health

A few weeks before Revilla’s surrender, Alex Gonzaga, a celebrity contestant of reality show Pinoy Big Brother, preached about the virtue of theism and the vice of atheism. She said that while believers solve their problems with God, nonbelievers “deteriorate,” trying to solve their sins with yet other sins.

But such statements can only come from someone who doesn’t know about Scandinavia and other secular societies. Study after study has shown that when it comes to countries, a strongly religious population is rarely a good thing. The more religious the population, the higher the incidence of, among others, poverty, crime, corruption, inequality, infant mortality, inability to access education and a decent standard of living — the list goes on. The least religious countries are better at most, if not all, of these measures.

However, correlation does not mean causation. Just because strong religiosity usually coexists with high crime rates does not mean one causes the other. When it comes to causation, I share the conclusion of the sociologists at the World Values Survey. They argue that what causes both high religiosity and low societal health is existential insecurity. When you live in a society where you can’t count on your government for survival, you’re more likely to pray to God for help or to get the help yourself — regardless of the legality of the means.

But this doesn’t quite explain why politicians — particularly those who are rich enough to own private jets — would plunder millions, especially while professing belief in a God that sees and judges everything they do.

Hamid Yeganeh & Daniel Sauers of Winona State University, USA, provide an explanation.

Corruption By Catholic Privilege

Even after controlling for the effects of socioeconomic development — making sure that how developed a country was didn’t significantly influence the outcome — they concluded the following:

“Considering the variety of corruption measures, the reliability of data, and the large number of included countries, we have to conclude that religiosity not only does not impede corruption but tends to promote it… The fact that religious denominations did not have considerable effects on the level of corruption suggests that religiousness inherently increases the occurrence of corrupt business behavior.”

But isn’t religion supposed to make people more moral and less corrupt? Yeganeh and Sauers argue that “while religiosity provides guidance on morality, some of its characteristics practically promote corrupt business behavior.”

The first of these characteristics is the creation of “a hierarchical socio-cultural structure promoting the elites’ discretionary power that ultimately endorses corruption.”

Consider clerical child abuse. The abuse of children and adolescents had been happening for centuries before it was brought to public awareness. Then it was discovered that systematic cover-ups and cleric shuffling made it difficult for the proper authorities to get involved.

I emphasize “proper” because the Catholic Church claimed that abuse cases were handled by their internal courts. They thought that whether the abuses should be handled by external authorities were up to their discretion. Because they could ensure the victims’ silence with threats of excommunication, they alone could decide whether to report the crime to the police. And the decisions usually favored the priests over their victims.

Now consider the psalm on Revilla’s shirt: “The LORD is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” This sentiment was shared by Vatican and its bishops when it decided that their authority alone was enough. What can man (the law) do to one with the Lord on his side (Catholic official)?

Thus bishops and politicians see themselves as privileged. But they wouldn’t have any power if the population didn’t actually share this perspective. Unfortunately, this is the case. The more religious a country, the more faith citizens have in both priests and politicians. These privileged people deserve more special treatment, more respect, and more trust.

On the other hand, secular societies are more skeptical of authority. They realize that there’s nothing special about priests, politicians, or any other person of authority. The more power they have, the more scrutiny and skepticism they are subjected to. Because the idea of faith is more foreign to secular societies, reason and evidence hold more currency. In the researchers words, “rationality, without too much emphasis on morality, wordlessly and effectively hinders corruption and supports ethical behavior.”

Religion: Sedation, not Solution

Another characteristic of religion that promotes corruption is the doctrine of forgiveness. In the researchers’ words, “the function of religion with regard to corruption is to provide sedation rather than a solution.”

If the allegations of plunder are true, then condemnation should be the least the people could do to ensure that justice is served. Yet CBCP President Villegas found it necessary to ask Filipinos not to condemn the alleged pork scammers.

You may think that there’s no way the public could be that stupid. Surely Filipinos would never forgive, never forget. But what kind of country would make Revilla consider running for president right after his arrest? What kind of country would elect a president impeached for corruption as Mayor of Manila? What kind of country would have so many of its people forget the atrocities of Marcos and elect his family into power?

A country that can forgive a corrupt politician seventy times seven.

The Government that Prays Together

To this day, the supposedly secular Philippine Senate starts every session with a prayer. Most, if not all, of them are implicated in either the PDAF or DAP scandal. A lot of Filipinos ask, “How can a government that is so religious be so corrupt?” If you’ve read up to this point, I hope you’ll agree that the correct question is, “How could it not?”


Image source: kickerdaily.com
Author’s note: This article was previously titled, “The Government That Prays Together Plunders Together.” “Preys” was also suggested, but “steals” sounds better (and sounds closer to “stays”).

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Pope Francis: Well Said, But Not Well Done

pope-francis-and-doveDuring his papal address last year at the St. Peter’s Basilica, Pope Francis made the call for peace a main point, noting that it was a common ground for believers and non-believers alike.

“I invite even nonbelievers to desire peace,” he said. “Let us all unite, either with prayer or with desire, but everyone, for peace.”

It’s a grand gesture from a pope who has become increasingly popular among Catholic moderates and non-Catholics alike, thanks to what looks like a reconcilliatory stance on formerly hot-button issues, such as homosexuality.

But as a new year begins and we’re bracing ourselves for what 2014 may throw our way, I’m wondering just how sincere the Pope was in his call for peace.

To start, I will establish what I believe.

I believe that part of any meaningful, lasting peace needs to be founded on the principle of equality. That the gauge of how well a community functions should be reflected in how it treats its marginalized and less fortunate. For us, a nation that’s survived three separate occupations from three foreign powers, this is a no-brainer.

It’s an idea that should be even clearer for the Roman Catholic Church, which continually reiterates its position as a bastion of peace and morality worldwide. Getting into specifics, I think that a truly peaceful society will make an effort to eliminate, or at least minimize instances of structural violence. Structural violence, as compared to blatant forms of violence such as murder or rape, is any inequality that is institutionalized.

For instance, a government that bans gay marriage or makes gay sex illegal is practicing structural violence. Segregating people and denying them health care due to their skin color, gender or race are also glaring examples of structural violence. Even blasphemy laws can be considered a form of structural violence, since they grant unfair privileges to religious speech.

And it is from this standpoint that I find myself questioning just how sincere the Church’s call for peace is, given how they figured in these incidents in 2013:

1. During the GOP’s US government shutdown last November 2013, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) were among the groups pushing for the shutdown. The US bishops had been hoping to use this incident as political leverage to grant them exemptions from the contraceptive coverage included in the Affordable Care Act.

The resulting shutdown most directly affected the poor, which is especially ironic given that Francis’ latest speeches have been to renew the fight against poverty.

2. When the UN passed a resolution opposing violence against women, the Vatican, along with Russia, China, and Iran protested a section of the resolution that condemned violence committed in the name of religion, local customs, and culture.

3. Hospitals owned by the RCC are turning away women suffering from miscarriages, because the RCC’s moral guidelines forbid them from providing proper medical treatment or even advice if it has anything to do with birth control.

4. The Pope excommunicated Fr. Greg Reynolds, on the grounds that he talked about the ordination of women priests. Reynolds is also a known supporter of gay marriage, another issue that the church is currently opposed to.

5. Pope Francis himself has personally noted that the matter of ordaining women into the priesthood was not a matter for discussion.

6. Pope Francis had also encouraged Malta Auxiliary Bishop Charles Scicluna to speak out against gay adoptions, after the country introduced a bill that would allow same-sex civil unions, and children to be adopted by gay parents.

7. The Vatican recently refused to provide a United Nations panel with full information regarding its (the Vatican) clerical sex abuse cases worldwide. The Vatican also stiffened penalties against whistle-blowers.

Given these recent events, I would like to ask: Is the Vatican in the right to talk about peace when it is blatantly clear that it is partly responsible, if not complicit, in perpetuating the sort of violence most decent folks would prefer to eliminate from society? From Francis’ Urbi et Orbi address:

“True peace is not a balance of opposing forces,” Francis said. “It is not a lovely facade which conceals conflicts and divisions. Peace calls for daily commitment.”

Well said, Francis. Now please practice what you preach.

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Why I No Longer Root For Pope “Bergoglio” Francis

Image from Wikimedia Commons

Image from Wikimedia Commons

If you have been following the recent online activity in my social media accounts (Facebook & Twitter), I’m sure you have seen me root for Pope “Bergoglio” Francis. I would share and retweet news of his activities, when compared to that of his predecessors, give us a breath of fresh air and hope for a more inclusive and forward looking Roman Catholic Church. I publicly announce my support and admiration for him. I would even jokingly say that I would head his fans’ club.

This is a big deal for me because I am an atheist… A very outspoken one and very critical of religious bigotry, intolerance, misogyny, and the protection of pedophile priests. Some may even say I have been critical to the point being on a permanent “attack mode” when talking about religion especially the Roman Catholic Church. (Probably because it is the predominant religion in my country and has great influence and impact over the government and the society that I belong to.)

Initially, I had a lot of misgivings against Bergoglio when I heard that he was elected to the seat of St. Peter. Reading about his past, I learned that he supported a dictatorship and had given very misogynistic and homophobic statements.

Then he became Francis. Pope Francis. The first Jesuit pope that started to shake up and “clean up” the Roman curia and the whole of Christendom! He made very controversial statements about being more open to the gay community and even, gasp, saying that we atheists can be good too! He spoke against capitalism and of Catholics being “obsessed” with gay marriage, abortion, and contraception.

He shocked the world with his simplicity. He lived in simpler home compared to the “castle” that he could have lived in. He became the people’s pope and reached out to the masses. He snuck out to feed the homeless at night. He allowed a child to hug him as he preached. He kissed a severely disfigured man. These are but a few of the good things he did that earned him brownie points to become Time’s 2013 Person of the Year.

Many in the online atheist community, including some of those in the Filipino Freethinkers and the Philippine Atheists and Agnostics Society (PATAS), were naturally skeptical and still unforgivingly critical of Pope Francis. They said it’s all talk without the walk. They said it’s all a public relations spin. They belittled his efforts and said he has done nothing about the things that really matter. I somewhat agree with them. Being exposed to public relations, I know a lot of the news were PR stunts. I agree that the more important issues have not been addressed by him.

But I chose to stay positive and hopeful. I still supported and believed in him. I held back my tongue (fingers, to be more precise) and chose not to focus on what he lacked but on the good that he has done.

Then, BOOM! I read yesterday about him excommunicating an Australian priest for openly supporting women empowerment in the church and “married” gay couples in unofficial ceremonies during gay rights demonstrations. It’s actually old news that came out last September but it skipped my radar.

The forward walk I was patiently waiting for him to do was actually a run in the complete opposite direction of his talk. I would understand if he defrocked the priest, but to excommunicate?! That’s supposedly the harshest punishment for the most grievous of sins. The priest is banished and cannot receive his god’s grace. If I’m not mistaken, if the priest dies before the excommunication is reversed, it’s tantamount to being condemned to eternal hellfire. (Not that I believe in any of that.)

This made me ask, has any priest been excommunicated for sodomizing young boys? Apparently not. They are actually STILL being protected under Pope Francis’ leadership. He did talk of investigating and punishing those sick bastards. But all this is happening INTERNALLY. Erring priests are removed in “damage-control” efforts but we have never heard of the church cooperating in investigations of secular authority nor have we heard of any priest getting jail time. In fact, they are actually still witholding information and paying off victims. (If you do not understand the magnitude of this problem, I suggest you watch the documentary “Mea Maxima Culpa.”)

So Francis EXCOMMUNICATED a priest for actually walking the talk while failing to do anything substantial on the issue of rampant sex abuses of his clergy. Talk about priorities!

I can go on with a list of other reasons why not to root for Pope Francis any longer, but I think this one act of hypocrisy is more than enough. (Since I am also trying to be more mindful and focus in the things I love and less on the things I hate.)

I still hope for positive change but I am not as confident in Pope Francis. I believe in the goodness of my family, friends, the rest of the decent people in the Roman Catholic Community, those of other faiths, and of those without any religious affiliations or beliefs. We as people can end most of the ills in our society if we promote goodness and denounce the bad.

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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.

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The Progressive Church That Will Never Come

Imagine this hypothetical situation:

The progressive Catholics have split from the Vatican to form their own church. They’ve called it the New Catholic Church.

A handful of progressive bishops have taken the place of the Pope as its leaders, and none of them call themselves infallible. Completing the clergy are progressive priests and theologians, mostly Jesuits, who feel exhilarated by the freedom to openly air their opinions without fear of being censured, excommunicated, or fired.

Unlike the Roman Catholic Church, the New Catholic bishops are in constant dialogue with their priests. Theologians thrive as their expertise is sought sincerely. Best of all, the laity are also given a voice. They’re invited to pastoral committee hearings on relevant social issues such as contraception, women’s rights, LGBT rights, and freedom of conscience. It seems like for the first time in centuries, progress is possible.

Progressive Church

Because most Roman Catholics were progressive, the New Catholic Church now outnumbers the Roman Catholic one significantly. And because the Roman Catholic Church is no longer the predominant religion, few politicians pander to them. The drop in donations has forced them to start using their billions in investment, which they have also been using to settle clerical abuse cases. More families are pressing charges with the New Catholic Church urging and supporting them to speak out.

Meanwhile, the New Catholic Church, being the biggest religion, has a steady flow of donations that has allowed them to build simple churches, unlike the luxurious Roman Catholic ones. Most of their funds are spent on charity instead of partisan political campaigns and causes. And none of it is used to settle abuse cases out of court; they report the rare offender to the police and fully cooperate with the authorities so that justice is ensured.

Having learned from the dangers political meddling, the New Catholic Church focuses on the well-being of its flock, avoiding partisan politics and fully respecting the separation of church and state. This has allowed legislation to proceed more smoothly, with the blackmail and fear mongering of the Roman Catholic Church falling on the ears of few conservative politicians.

New Catholics are thriving in their new religion, where they agree with the moral position of their priests and bishops, never again having to withhold tithes or walk out of sermons. Their personal views no longer conflict with their Church’s teachings, and educating the youth is now a cooperative effort between parents, teachers, and priests, each lesson based on scientific evidence and humanistic ethics.

Now. In this hypothetical future, if you are a progressive Catholic who still belongs to the Roman Catholic Church, would you join the New Catholic Church? Remember that the progressive priests and theologians who have made your religion bearable have already left to join this new one. Most of your progressive friends and relatives have also converted.

Would you remain a Roman Catholic when your views on so many social issues are at odds with the clergy? Would you tithe and pay for sacraments in a conservative church when you could so easily get the same experience in its progressive counterpart? What good reasons are there to remain Roman Catholic?

Hans Kung, one of the most prominent Catholic theologians today, has long urged progressive Catholics to revolt, but to no avail.


I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that most progressive Catholics would convert to this New Catholicism in a heartbeat. I believe that this is the ideal situation every progressive Catholic hopes would happen inside the Roman Catholic Church. The only problem is, this is not going to happen.

The conservatives in the Vatican are in full control, and because they’re a dictatorship, the opinions of the majority don’t matter. The only way progressive Catholics can get their ideal situation is by forming their own institution outside the Roman Catholic Church.

And this is precisely the problem. To make the New Catholic Church possible, they have to leave the Roman Catholic Church. Every person has to leave on their own. And someone has to start it. But who would begin such an exodus?

The youth would probably be the most willing. But their youth might be a turnoff to those who are so used to getting guidance from more mature men.

The older progressives are more authoritative, but they’re probably too settled into their Roman Catholic routine, with careers and families taking up most of their time, that taking on such a big change would be too much to ask. Not to mention they still wouldn’t be authoritative enough for those who look for a sense of the sacred in their leaders.

Progressive priests and theologians would have this holy authority. But compared to the laity, they would be risking their careers, their livelihoods. They would need to rely on their savings because while starting a new religion they wouldn’t have a source of income.

Bishops probably have enough saved up. But the way the Vatican has been screening bishops since Vatican II, finding even one progressive bishop is a challenge in itself, and such a person would be risking the most in terms of the wealth and influence he would have to give up.

That leaves no one.

Conservative Church

I believe that every individual needed for this New Catholic Church is already here. Majority of Roman Catholics who now have more progressive views than their conservative counterparts and clergy. A group of dissenting priests and theologians who have been expressing their progressive ideals more and more publicly. Enough ideological and theological conflict in many core beliefs to make forming a new religion necessary. And enough shortcomings of the Roman Catholic Church to make leaving it, ceasing to further support its bigotry, an ethical necessity.

But progressive Catholics have to start somewhere. Each of them would join this New Catholic Church if it is ever formed. But few, if any, of them would be willing to leave the Roman Catholic Church to start it.

Progressive Catholics will be content to bear their burden together, comforting each other with their shared dissent, hoping for change but knowing in their hearts that it will never come. Meanwhile, the Vatican thrives with power, arrogance, and impunity, never having to worry about the progressive church that will never come.

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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.




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.

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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.

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Vatican Silences Their Sisters Yet Again

Oh no, the nuns are expressing their own opinion again! Quick, call the inquisition to shut ’em up and throw ’em back in their convents where they belong!


The Catholic Church hierarchy has yet again turned what sounds like a badly recreated Monty Python sketch into cringe-inducing reality. As stated in the article above, the Vatican did indeed call on the former Office of the Inquisition (now called the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith) to silence a nun (Sister Margaret Farley, who just happens to be an accomplished theologian in her own right) who dared to write a book questioning their official doctrine.

What leaves me particularly flabbergasted is that there seems to be a relatively obvious solution to this that would not require the dissolution of the Vatican. Assuming the Catholic church hierarchy wants to treat women as equals, then why doesn’t it allow women the same options for religious dedication as men and let them be ordained as clergy? It’s not like there’s no precedent, as the Episcopal Church has been doing it for decades. It would be fair to say that women there have since done rather well for themselves in securing a voice within their Church, as this picture of the highest ranking Episcopal Church official in the United States would indicate.


Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori (Episcopalian)

What exactly are they afraid of?

UPDATE: Here is Sister Margaret Farley’s response to the Vatican.


Truly the voice of an unhinged hysterical witch-heretic if there ever was one. It’s crazy bitches like her that must be why the Vatican seems so keen on keeping their women quiet and docile.

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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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Don’t Think, Just Obey: Progressive Nuns and the Primacy of Conscience

Despite disagreeing with bishops on almost every political issue of controversy — contraception, LGBT rights, etc. — many progressives maintain their Catholic identity for one reason: primacy of conscience. But this doctrine is misunderstood, as I elaborated in my previous post on primacy.

Long story short, primacy of conscience means that a Catholic must always act consistently with her conscience. However, a Catholic’s first duty is to always have a conscience that’s consistent with the Church. Taken out of context, primacy seems to grant Catholics freedom. Taken in context, however, primacy gives Catholics freedom to do only what the Church tells them — which is not really freedom at all.

I strongly suggest that you read the entire post; I believe it has enough good reasons to convince most that primacy is a fallacy (at least in the way progressives usually understand it). Yet some still refuse to accept that a Catholic’s first duty is to obey, and I can sympathize; it implies that Catholics are intellectually enslaved.*

If the post doesn’t convince you, nothing I say will be enough. But maybe the Vatican’s recent actions will change your mind.

Progressive Nuns of the United States

While continuing to protect pedophile priests around the world, the Vatican is waging a war on nuns.

Why? After some investigation, the Vatican concluded that the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR)**, the largest group of nuns in the States, are apparently “radical feminists” who neglect their Catholic duty to fight contraception, defeat the gay agenda, and publicly agree with bishops’ political positions. (They were apparently too distracted by such relatively insignificant goals as feeding the poor and healing the sick.)

The LCWR’s offenses are so complex and countless that they’ve been assigned a babysitter supervising bishop and given up to 5 years to make their organization more consistently bigoted Catholic.

This space may not be enough, so instead of expounding, I’ll let former Nun Mary Johnson, who served with billionaire hypocrite Mother Teresa for 20 years, summarize the situation (emphasis added):

“The main complaint is that sisters are thinking for themselves,” she says. “No one says it in those words, but that’s the bottom line: you’re thinking for yourself, and we don’t like that.”

“The Catholic Church has long recognized that an individual’s first duty is to obey his or her conscience, but the bishops say that any conscience that conflicts with their teaching is a conscience in error.”

“Any questioning is seen as disloyal, even heretical—bishops aren’t used to being questioned.”

“The Vatican works like a dictatorship. They want blind obedience, as opposed to thoughtful ideas. The bishops insist that a faithful Catholic must submit to them.”

Don’t Think, Just Obey

The Vatican’s message to the US nuns — and to every progressive Catholic — can’t be any clearer. There may be some progressive theologians who disagree, but there’s a reason all they’re allowed is speculation and theory.

In practice, liberal bishops, dissenting priests, and progressive nuns know that the Vatican preaches only one kind of primacy: the primacy of obedience.

* The word “heretic” comes from the Greek “hairetikos,” which means “able to choose.” Heretics are those who choose their own beliefs, despite the doctrines of the Church. Following this definition, is a Catholic then one who is “disabled to choose”?

Although the worst punishment for a heretic is now excommunication — essentially being sentenced to Hell — the Church used to be so impatient that they’d start eternal damnation while the heretic is still alive, inventing all kinds of torture to simulate Hell on Earth.

** The way the Vatican is treating the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (and women in general), they probably think LCWR stands for “Let’s Crap on Women’s Rights”

Comic source: http://stmedia.startribune.com/images/548*425/sack043012.jpg

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Contraception, Corona, and Unimpeachable Dogma

The Hypothetical Case of Corona

Imagine that by some miracle, the prosecution managed to provide overwhelming evidence that could convict Corona. But for some reason, the senator-judges arrive at a surprising verdict: not guilty.

When Senator-Judge Enrile (still our hypothetical presiding officer) is asked about it, he explains that like the other Senators, he, too, was convinced that Corona should be convicted. However, Enrile explains, conviction was impossible.

Why? Because if Corona is guilty, it would mean that Ex-President Arroyo made a mistake in appointing him Chief Justice. And if Arroyo made a mistake, it means that presidents aren’t perfect. And if presidents aren’t perfect, then democracy is doomed. Therefore, Corona is not guilty.

Unless you are a Corona cultist, you’d think that such a verdict is insane. Corona himself would admit guilt instead of letting such a mockery of the legal system stand. (OK, maybe not.) In any case, you’ll surely admit that no one would find such insanity reasonable.

Yet many find insanity reasonable when done in the name of religion. This is what happened when Pope Paul VI confirmed that contraceptives were evil.

The Actual Case of Contraception

In the early 60s, many Catholics started suspecting the innocence of an old teaching: the evil of contraception. They expressed dissent so strongly that Pope John XXIII (and later Pope Paul VI) formed a commission to investigate the original teaching’s innocence, so to speak.

After 6 years on trial, the commission reached their verdict:

  • 9 of 12 bishops found the original teaching wrong
  • 15 of 19 theologians found the original teaching wrong
  • 30 of 35 lay members found the original teaching wrong

The commission had found evidence — from Scripture and Tradition to Science and Experience — to conclude that the original teaching on contraception was wrong; contraception was not always evil.

The commission submitted their official report, and Pope Paul VI agreed with it — contraceptives were not inherently evil. I emphasize “official report” because a small group of conservatives unofficially submitted what is now called (mistakenly) the minority report. Regardless of its official standing, the other report contained the argument that changed the Pope’s mind.

Infallible Defense

While the official report was comprehensive and complex — arguing from different perspectives, providing both traditional and modern evidence — the other report was simple and single-minded. It relied primarily on an old (yet relatively recent) Catholic teaching: that Popes can’t be wrong when it comes to faith and morals because Jesus magically protects them from the mere possibility.

All the rational and scientific arguments of the official report were trumped by the other one’s appeal to the miraculous. And the writers of the unofficial report were unashamed of resorting to this defense:

If we could bring forward arguments which are clear and cogent based on reason alone, it would not be necessary for our Commission to exist, nor would the present state of affairs exist in the Church… The Church could not have erred through so many centuries, even through one century, by imposing under serious obligation very grave burdens in the name of Jesus Christ, if Jesus Christ did not actually impose these burdens.

As one minority member put it, if the original teaching is wrong, what will happen to all those Catholic souls the Church previously sent to Hell ? To this a member of the majority had the perfect response: “Father Zalba, do you really believe that God has carried out all your orders?”

Pope John Paul II, then a Cardinal who was also part of the conservative minority, argued as follows:

If it should be declared that contraception is not evil in itself, then we should have to concede frankly that the Holy Spirit had been on the side of the Protestant churches in 1930 (when the encyclical Casti Connubii was promulgated), in 1951 (Pius XII’s address to the midwives), and in 1958 (the address delivered before the Society of Hematologists in the year the pope died). It should likewise have to be admitted that for a half century the Spirit failed to protect Pius XI, Pius XII, and a large part of the Catholic hierarchy from a very serious error.

This would mean that the leaders of the Church, acting with extreme imprudence, had condemned thousands of innocent human acts, forbidding, under pain of eternal damnation, a practice which would now be sanctioned. The fact can neither be denied nor ignored that these same acts would now be declared licit on the grounds of principles cited by the Protestants, which popes and bishops have either condemned or at least not approved.

When he became pope, he explained why infallibility was crucial to Catholicism:

I am convinced that the doctrine of infallibility is in a certain sense the key to the certainty with which the faith is confessed and proclaimed, as well as to the life and conduct of the faithful. For once this essential foundation is shaken or destroyed, the most basic truths of our faith likewise begin to break down.

In short, the conservatives used logic similar to that of our hypothetical Corona case:

  1. If the original teaching on contraception is wrong, then 2 previous popes were wrong.
  2. If 2 previous popes were wrong, then there’s no such thing as infallibility.
  3. If there’s no such thing as infallibility, then the Catholic Church is doomed.
  4. Therefore, the original teaching is correct.

Of course, other arguments were used in the so-called minority report. But those were the same arguments that had already been refuted by the commission. In the end, infallibility was the only argument left unanswered.

Unimpeachable Dogma

To this day, the Catholic Church still stands by its anti-contraceptive stance, and on the doctrine of infallibility that defended it. If the same kind of insane defense were to clear Corona’s name, an EDSA III would not be unlikely. Although surveys show that many Filipinos have already lost interest, I’m sure such an attack on common sense would motivate even the most apathetic to action.

Regardless of how the actual impeachment trial turns out, Filipinos should already be thankful for one thing: our public officials — unlike Catholic doctrines — are impeachable.

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What Would a True Catholic Philippines Look Like?

It is quite clear that in an allegedly secular nation, politicians here in the Philippines are largely guided by their religion, which is more often than not Roman Catholicism. This is evident from the chapels in public institutions such as Philippine Science High School to the President’s “advisers” that invariably include at least one man of the cloth. And, there is truly no cause for complaint, if Roman Catholicism is, in fact, the one true religion.

If you allow that no politician is simply abusing the gullibility of their constituents and that they actually believe in the truth of Roman Catholicism, then the people who govern us are simply running on what they think are accurate observations of the universe. Every prayer before Congress and every “year of our Lord” in Presidential Proclamations are not mere statements of opinion or rhetorical flourishes, these are reiterations of accepted facts. Or, rather, “facts.”

The claims of the religious, whether moral or theological, are factual claims. For the former, moral claims are facts about conscious experience. For the latter, theological claims are facts about how the universe in general operates. Both are claims about how material stuff (particles and such) interact with the world.

Avoiding the unimpressive arguments for the existence of the specific Catholic flavor of Yahweh, let us, like millions of Filipinos, simply take this on faith. How would the much-desired fully-realized Catholic Nation of the Philippines look?

For a start, all faith-based holidays not in the Roman Catholic calendar will be erased. This is because the truth of Catholicism necessarily negates the contradictory truth claims of all other religions, from similar Paganism to largely foreign Hinduism. This shouldn’t worry kids who pray for school cancellations since there’s still pretty much a saint for anything and any day. Secular holidays such as Labor Day may continue to exist, but in the form of feasts for one of the myriad saints “venerated” by Catholics. It may perhaps be replaced by a day for Saint Joseph the Carpenter, a model laborer and cuckold, or for Saint Matthew the Tax Collector, to remind us of the price of civilization.

A Catholic Nation of the Philippines would be different from the Vatican in that it would be a real state—with a permanent population, a defined territory, a functioning government, and a real capacity for diplomatic relations with other states. These are the criteria for statehood set out by international law, which the Vatican arguably does not meet.

Assuming that the Catholic Nation of the Philippines will continue with its sham democracy label (as it does now), there will be an entirely new branch of government to buttress the executive, legislative, and judicial branches—the ecclesiastical. This branch will oversee all actions of the government to make sure that they are in line with the will of God. The head of this branch will be the person who is most keen to discern that will, most likely a Cardinal (someone who God “communicates” with, on matters such as who deserves to be pope). This branch will also supplement (maybe event supplant) departments such as Education, Science and Technology, Health, Treasury, and Public Works and Highways, through prayer. It will hire battalions of “prayer warriors” in lieu of civil servants, since prayer would be enough anyway.

Perhaps surprisingly, religious freedom will have a place in a Catholic nation. Albeit, this will be limited to the private sphere. The Church no longer has any teachings advocating hate against other religions. They have already apologized for their indefensible establishment of the Crusades and the Inquisition. The humanism of the Enlightenment has seen to it that even our historically cruel religious institutions will find the torture and sadism of their past unthinkable. However, religious tests will be required of all members of government to ensure that the nation maintains its course following the will of God. While citizens may be free to believe anything in private, to hold beliefs contrary to Catholicism, when Catholicism is true, is like believing that circles have corners. It’s just absurd. Given the fact of Catholicism, religious freedom would exist as the freedom to be ignorant or insane.




Judas' Cradle, one of the brutal eroticized torture methods used during the Spanish Inquisition


Needless to say, most changes in our legal system will revolve around sex, the favorite whipping boy of Catholicism. Of course, all kinds of pharmaceutical birth control will be outlawed. And, given their definition of human personhood as beginning at some vague point called “when the sperm meets the egg”, all miscarriages will need to be investigated whether foul play was involved. All terminated pregnancies, whether intentional or not, will require death certificates for the unborn. Reflecting the Church’s “pro-life” stance, in vitro fertilization (IVF) will be illegal, and those who participate in it will be accessories to murder (since IVF involves fertilizing multiple eggs and discarding some embryos). Sex outside marriage will be expressly forbidden and periodical hymen checks for the unmarried will help enforce this law. Unwed women who no longer have hymens as a result of strenuous activity (such as horseback riding) or due to congenital or medical reasons will require permits to walk around with their ungodly genitals.

Homosexuality, as a “disordered sexual inclination”, will obviously be regulated. LGBT persons will be sent to ineffective psychiatric care. While they may remain homosexual in orientation, they cannot engage in “homosexual activity,” which will be illegal. Anti-sodomy laws will be passed and those suspected of homosexual activity will be prosecuted.

Like here in our universe, child rapists who happen to be priests will continue to enjoy impunity from the Catholic Church. The worst punishment, if any, they will ever receive would be removal from Holy Orders.

Jails and prisons will continue to exist, and the Philippines might even serve as the Vatican’s prison system (like Italy). Convicts will be forced to undergo religious counseling in order to save their souls (which will include the Sacrament of Penance for baptized Catholics).

But what exactly would a Catholic legal system protect us from? While earthly laws might be used to protect citizens from physical or material harm, Catholic laws will be constructed to protect citizens from hellfire. Dying or temporal suffering is trifling when compared to eternal torture. It would only be rational to true believers of hell to frame all laws in this context. If an act will lead to the eternal damnation of a citizen, it will be forbidden. Since Catholicism is true and all religions are false, the Catholic government’s control over you will not end in death. It will merely be continued by the true celestial dictator in the afterlife.

To accept the rule of Catholicism means that we must surrender our so-called liberties in this life for salvation in the next. The only true freedom is the freedom to choose God’s will over that of our own. This is what gets the monastics through their ascetic lifestyles. This justifies the personal sacrifices of those in religious orders, not to mention the torture and execution of heretics in the past. What is a hundred years in agony and discomfort if it means eternity in bliss? What is the point of establishing peace on Earth if it lasts only in a world that is destined to boil in five billion years from a dying expanding star? The true point of life here is to prove ourselves for the next.

What I’ve painted here is fictional, though I assert that it is not very far from how our world would look if we take Catholicism to its logical conclusions. Because of the cherry-picking of cafeteria Catholics who largely comprise the country, we can be thankful that this vision is rather unlikely. The Roman Catholic Church is far from the monolithic bloc of devotees the CBCP likes to present. We do not live in this disgusting world because most people who identify as Catholics are unconvinced of the orthodox conservative Catholic lifestyle choice of the minority, which is so vastly disconnected from the reality of temporal suffering and tangible well-being.

However, it is only fair to point out that if indeed Catholicism is the right religion, this vision would not be so bad, since it would deter people from acts that would lead to eternal damnation. But it is irredeemably repulsive if heaven does not. This would mean that the sacrifices conservative Catholics force upon pregnant victims of rape and victims of child indoctrination are wasted on nothing. This would mean that we would have to actually build a lasting society here on Earth and stop worrying about what God thinks about our private thoughts.

We have but one life to live. If the conservative Catholics are right, the best way to spend this life is in strict conformity with the will of God. If they are wrong, as tens of thousands of incompatible religions necessarily assert, then the best way to waste your life would be to listen to them and avoid enjoying this life.

Image Credit: Weird Worm

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British Court: Catholic Priests Are Employees of the Catholic Church

Who is the boss of Catholic priests? The layman and the laity would answer without hesitation: the Catholic Church. But for the Catholic Church — and the lawyers that defend them in abuse cases — the answer is not so obvious. Are they self-employed? Or maybe employed by a higher power?

Whatever the case, the Church’s lawyers are sure of one thing: Catholic priests are not employed by the Catholic Church.

Because if the abusive priests are employed by the Church, then the Church as employers can be held liable for crimes committed by priests. The we’re-not-the-boss argument has been the foundation of the Church’s defense in sex abuse cases all over the world. Refute this and you break down the walls that protect churches from prosecution — all the way up to the Vatican.

And this is precisely what happened on Tuesday:

A British court has ruled that Roman Catholic priests are equivalent to employees, a decision that could pave the way for victims of sexual abuse to win damages from the church…

Tuesday’s ruling involved a 47-year-old woman who says she was sexually assaulted by the Rev. Wilfred Baldwin when she was living in a Catholic children’s home in Portsmouth, in southern England.

The church argued that Baldwin was not an employee, an argument rejected by Justice Alistair MacDuff.

The judge noted that Baldwin was appointed by and on behalf of the diocese to do their work. “He had immense power handed to him by the defendants,” the judge wrote in the ruling. “It was they who appointed him to the position of trust which (if the allegations be proved) he so abused.

The woman’s case is being tried in December, when another judge will have to make a further decision about the church’s liability, MacDuff said. “I only have to decide whether the nature of the relationship is one to which vicarious liability may — I emphasize ‘may’ — attach,” he wrote.

Vicarious liability is a legal doctrine that holds employers responsible for the actions of employees in some circumstances.

Proving that priests are employed by the Church is just the first step. But if vicarious liability is attached, it will completely demolish the we’re-not-the-boss defense in this case, setting the precedent for hundreds of sex abuse cases all over the world, paving the way for prosecutors to face the final boss: Pope Benedict XVI.

Until then, victims of clerical sex abuse will continue to suffer, the public will remain ignorant of the covered up crimes, and the Catholic Church will continue denying responsibility, blaming its employees and their victims (like a boss).

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Irish Government Closes Vatican Embassy

Due to cost-cutting, Ireland is closing their embassy in the Vatican. This diplomatic relation doesn’t give Ireland an economic return, though it probably does give an economic return to the Vatican.

This closure is especially interesting given the recent statements the Irish prime minister has made, in which he denounces the way the Vatican has been covering up the child molestation by Irish Roman Catholic priests, as well as other long standing grievances imposed on Ireland by clerical classes, such as the Magdalene laundries.

In light of all these abuses against the Irish people, it is incredible that the Vatican has the balls to say that they view their diplomatic role with Ireland as ‘promoting human values’. As Ophelia Benson wrote in a post about the closure of the embassy:

Promoting human values. Human values. What the fuck does the Vatican have to do with promoting human values – the whole point of the Catholic church is that the values are goddy values, not human values. What human values?

During these tough economic times, perhaps the Philippine government should follow the lead of the Irish government and close our diplomatic missions with the Vatican. After all, what benefits do we get from having these costly relations? Maybe the Philippine government could even use the savings to fund the reproductive health bill…

Image by enggul, licensed under Creative Commons

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