When asked about my religion I always say I am a Catholic, but only in words and not in deeds.
Does that make me proud? Of course not.
But, does that satisfy my thirst for a sense of belonging to somebody that is Omnipotent? Yes, it certainly does!
My faith in the Almighty God has never been as strong as it has been all these years since I had been silently and fervently communicating with Him in my own time.
I feel much, much peace and contentment in His presence, especially when I make the church as a refuge for my devotion and supplication.
This is when the church is devoid of a priest and all kinds of worshipers.
This is the time I cherish most when thoughtless priests won’t come in the way of your religious contemplation by talking nonsense instead of building up your spiritual sense of being.
This is the time I care most about because I feel more the reverence of the place and can seem to listen truly the words of God and not the corrupted words of the priest delivering his homily.
Was I surprise, therefore, about the outcome of the survey made by Social Weather Stations (SWS) that one in every 11 Filipino Catholics, or 9.2 percent, sometimes considers leaving the Church? Or that Filipino Catholics were less devout and active in attending church services compared to other religions?
Of course I was, for after all I didn’t expect that there were these many disgruntled Catholics in the country. I seemed to be seeing my own image among those surveyed.
There is nothing wrong with the Catholic Church per se. But, there is plenty wrong, obviously, with the leaders in our own churches.
No less than Fr. Joel Tabora S.J., president of Ateneo de Davao University, had this to say: “The Catholic Church is in trouble—even in Catholic Philippines …. People have been leaving the Catholic Church. People are about to leave the Church. It is time, I think, for Mahar Mangahas to take out his social survey tools to help us understand what is happening.”
The result was stunning, to say the least, and a wake-up call to the Catholic Church hierarchy.
To me there is no better explanation than the one given by the outspoken Reproductive Health advocate Carlos “Damaso” Celdran, when he issued the following statements: the survey was “a sign that Filipinos are becoming a critical people and now slowly choosing reason over religion.”
“It is also a sign that Filipinos are becoming more aware of the flaws of the Filipino Catholic hierarchy and are disappointed …. The stubborn and obsolete thinking of Filipino bishops are turning them away.”
If there is one person that could turn this dismal survey around, it is Pope Francis. He simply has to make sure that the Catholic Church hierarchy in the Philippines shall toe the line and follow his words and deeds and make it as an example to the new priests.
Pope Francis is showing the way now, but the hardest thing is for the Filipino church officials to win back the trust of their flock in this country.