Sad state of the Catholic Church in the country

 

I saw this article in SunStar Cebu, dated, April 20, 2017, under the New Sense opinion column of Atty. Pachico Seares and I found it a good and factual read worthy to be shared.

It practically explains why many, like myself opt to go to church any other day except Sundays to be in silence and in solitude with God.

Home could be my church, too, where I find my communion with God so peaceful, uplifting and fulfilling, sans dumb lectures by priests.

One cannot help it, but some situation and events happen in your daily life that simply assures you that what you are doing is the most sensible and compelling thing to do.

And the beauty of it all is that there is no feeling of regret and discomfort about what you are doing.

Hope you can relate to what I am saying and what the article is trying to say.

It is the truth and the reality of the sad state of the Catholic Church in the country today.

Thankfully, God is everywhere.

 

Sermons drive Catholics away?

CATHOLICS have the lowest church attendance in weekly mass or service among religious groups in the Philippines: only 41% Catholics, compared to 90% Iglesia ni Cristo, 81% Muslims, and 71% other Christians. Social Weather Stations, whose survey was conducted last March 25-28, found a 48% over-all attendance.

The 2017 record is still embarrassing for Catholics although four years ago SWS reported an even lower figure: 37%. Then, as now, the Catholic Church trailed other religious groups on attendance.

Preached, scolded

Fr. Joel Tabor, SJ, president of Ateneo de Davao, writing in a 2013 blog heaped a lot of blame on homilies: “corny homilies that ramble in inanities that begin and never end and they never end because they should’ve never been begun.”

Churchgoers, Fr. Tabor said, are tired of being “preached to as if they were younger than adolescents.” People are tired, he said, of arbitrary claims to absolute truth “when the thinking world would continue to seek the truth”–and of being scolded and dictated upon.

On brevity: the church has reportedly adopted a time limit to keep churchgoers awake and in focus as well as meet schedules of succeeding masses, more so in urban areas.

Content, tone

But obviously it’s not just length but content and tone. Many homilies keep hammering on faith and doctrine to which the listeners can’t relate, the sermon not being tied to a current subject to make it relevant and useful.

Lingayen-Dagupan archbishop emeritus Oscar Cruz, in a media interview, said there are now many causes of distraction. Msgr. Esteban Binghay, on “Frankahay Ta” (dyCM radio, with Atty. Frank Malilong), agreed, a diversion that Binghay said also afflicts priests (mentioning, for the clergy, “FaceBook, mahjong and “tigbakay”).

Those compete with church activities. But why the heavier toll on Catholics? Why do members of other church groups still, ah, religiously attend the required function?

‘Discipline’

Shorter, more enlightening and interesting homilies must help but a major factor is “discipline.”

Catholics are not punished by the church for not showing up at mass (no one checks attendance and threat of hell and damnation must not work anymore), or not paying tithes (no one records what each puts into the collection net). Parishioners are not compelled to attend mass just as they are not forced by their priest or bishop to vote for or against candidates in elections.

See you in church Sunday. If nothing else comes up.

Tatad chastising Duterte over ME visit is idiotic


Former senator Francisco “Kit” Tatad and President Rodrigo Duterte.

I do not know why a washout and a loser like former senator Francisco “Kit” Tatad still has to open his mouth and say something critical of President Rodrigo Duterte’s visit to the Middle East (ME) when nobody anymore gives a damn about what he thinks and says.

If Tatad thinks his being a member of the conservative Catholic group Opus Dei gives him the moral ascendancy to be listened to, he is so fucking wrong.

Tatad who until now, no doubt, has that delusion of grandeur for having served the dictator Marcos and became prominent when he announced the declaration of Martial Law on Sept. 23, 1972, should just write about something else because every time he badmouths Duterte he is taken for an idiot.

Now why would Tatad say that Duterte committed “nothing less than an act of disrespect” by traveling to Muslim countries on official visits during Holy Week?

Why, would that make Duterte less of a Christian and less of a leader if he goes on a state visit at a time when Filipinos observe the traditional Holy Week?

“I cannot imagine any of his hosts—Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz al Saud, Bahrain King Hamad bin Isa al Khalifa, or Qatari Emir Tanim bin Hamad al Thani—making a pilgrimage to a non-Islamic place during Ramadan while the Muslim world is doing its month-long religious fast,” Tatad said.

What an absurd and idiotic comparison!

Yes, Duterte may have embarked on a long journey to the ME, specifically to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Kingdom of Bahrain and Qatar, but it is a noble mission for the Philippines and the Filipinos, especially those working and having work-related problems with their employers in these countries.

That Duterte timed his visit during the Holy Week is not being rude and irreverent, but he probably did it to fully make use of his time and be productive in earning goodwill with these countries instead of being idle for the whole week when public offices are closed.

Could Tatad not see it this way?

Tatad’s bashing of Duterte would have been justified had the latter went on a leisure trip, but for a working trip, couldn’t the former Marcos sycophant at least give credit to Duterte’s well-meaning government mission to the ME?

But then again there is not even an iota of comparison between Duterte and Tatad.

Tatad’s noise is simply to satisfy a strong craving of attention for a ‘has been’.

That is all there is to it.

Better for CBCP to urge faithful to pray

Archbishop Socrates Villegas

Archbishop Socrates Villegas

Anytime the Catholic Church, through the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), comes out with pronouncements, either in the form of a homily or a pastoral letter, strongly criticizing state matters it always frustrate many people, including myself.

Lately, CBCP president Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas released a pastoral letter once again blasting the Duterte administration’s war on drugs and the resultant extrajudicial killings happening during the campaign.

Villegas seemed to be bothered by the fact that despite the violence and excessive killings, most people have been reacting indifferently to it and rather feeling oblivious at the terror they are witnessing.

Thus, the pastoral letter was written and sent out to all churches so that every Tom, Dick and Harry of the cloth shall make it their responsibility to remind their respective parishioners to get involve and be more vocal against the extrajudicial killings happening almost every day that are being attributed to the police.

Villegas implied in his pastoral letter that if the members of the Catholic faith continue to act like the three wise monkeys that embodied the proverbial principle, “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil”, then they are just as guilty as those perpetrating the crime.

This is what bugs me and frustrates me because I think the CBCP is over-dramatizing the situation and playing to the sentiments of the people who, otherwise, are thankful that the drug menace, criminality and corruption are finally being addressed seriously and imperatively by a strong-willed president who has the political courage and the moral ascendancy to move this country forward and improve the quality of life of every Filipino.

I have said this before, and I am going to say it again: Let the political system run the state and the clerical or religious functions run the church. Let no one meddle in somebody else realm. Each is governed by its own laws and power and it is simply imprudent and discordant to encourage and advocate the members of their respective realms to go against one another.

I understand that the people belonging to the church and state are all citizens of this country and as such have the same rights and privileges under the constitution. Individually, each can voice out his or her opinion.

But it is totally different when we talk about the church and state as entities.

The state is about governance of the country and its people.

The church is about governance of the soul of people, which can be made better by prayers and other religious/spiritual activities.

That is how distinctly separate they are.

Reproductive health care finally unleashed

 

rh-lawI had been writing about the ‘tethered’ reproductive health (RH), even until it became a law, advocating its implementation sooner than later, for I believe in its practicality and benefits especially for the poor folks, but it was never fully carried out.

It seemed like it was leashed and had limited usefulness only. Worse is that benefits continued to be unreachable by the poor and to think that RH care was already a law. What an irony!

My last article about it can be read at this link: https://quierosaber.wordpress.com/tag/reproductive-health-law/.

With President Rodrigo Duterte signing on Jan. 9 Executive Order (EO) No. 12, mandating universal access to modern family planning tools, I feel like this particular welfare program that was just made to dangle for the reach of the favored few is now unleashed so it could drop and roll down to those needing it the most.

Duterte is said to have ordered government agencies, namely, the Department of Health (DOH), the Commission on Population (POPCOM) and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) to “intensify and accelerate the implementation of critical actions” to address the “unmet” family planning needs of up to six million Filipina women.

It will be noted that foreign and local authorities have long cited the need for improved birth control in the Philippines which has one of Asia’s highest birth rates as well as high maternal mortality rates.

With a galloping population of over 100 million now and with about 25 percent living in poverty Duterte’s order could not have come at a very propitious time.

Now we could not say anymore that the implementation of the RH law is inadequate because of its limited budget.

“The important part there is that all government agencies will start inputting funds for the program in their 2018 and 2019 budgets,” POPCOM’s executive director Juan Antonio Perez said.

The government’s annual family planning budget could now increase four-fold to the ideal level of two billion pesos, Perez said.

With the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), working on the truism that delivering a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe and every young person’s potential is fulfilled, and praising Duterte for his political will in providing free contraceptives to poor women, describing it as a ‘new momentum’ in the provision of family planning services in the Philippines, we can only hope and pray that the Catholic Church and its excessively pious followers will respect Duterte’s stand on this controversial issue and look at it as an act beneficial to the interest of the country and its people, for that is all there is to it.

Prayer against death penalty

 

Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle

Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle

After reading that Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle released a prayer against the death penalty, which no doubt will surely be passed by Congress sooner or later, to be said in Masses throughout the Christmas season, I immediately asked myself if this was the right thing to do.

I am not saying that I don’t pray or that I do not believe in prayers, but for this particular purpose, is the Catholic Church well advised to write one and force it upon its followers to say it?

Thus, what I did was took time looking up for some opinion about prayers and my attention got riveted to the following two quotations by these famous men:

“Forgive me my nonsense as I also forgive the nonsense of those who think they talk sense.”
Robert Frost

“The function of prayer is not to influence God, but rather to change the nature of the one who prays.”
Søren Kierkegaard

I could not agree more with each of the author’s belief about prayer for clearly from the point of view of Tagle he seems to be more concern about the criminal’s life and less about the crime committed, the loss of life and the agony suffered by the victim’s family at the other end of the equation.

“There is in our land a cry for vengeance and a move to fill up death rows and kill offenders, but disguised as a call for justice”, part of the prayer says. And it goes on as if the state is craving for revenge.

How melodramatic can Tagle be!

Justice in disguise, Tagle says?

Death penalty is JUSTICE, period. No ifs and buts about it. It is proper and legal as it is now the law of the land for specific crimes deserving of death.

Who are you anyway to willfully commit a heinous crime and expect to be spared just because you are poor, uneducated and unemployed?

Some people and organizations, like the Catholic Church, say that the death penalty is not a deterrent. Well, for what is happening to this country, with drugs, criminality and corruption trying to destroy people’s lives, sooner or later it will become a deterrent. Make the implementation consistent and continuous and it will become a deterrent.

I am posting the prayer against death penalty for those who care to read it and make your own assessment whether or not the two quotations above about prayers make a whole lot more of sense compared to Tagle’s prayer.

Full text: ‘Prayer against the Death Penalty’

Below is the full text of the Archdiocese of Manila’s Prayer against the Death Penalty:

Leader: Father, source and giver of life, we lift our hearts and voices to you. Help us to build a society that truly chooses life in all situations.

Let our response be: Lord, heal our pain.

For those experiencing pain and anguish because of violence and crime,
Lord, heal our pain.

For perpetrators and victims of atrocities who both struggle with anger and hatred,
Lord, heal our pain.

For our broken world, enchained by the desire for revenge,
Lord, heal our pain.

For our wounded society misled by the illusion that one must take life in order to defend it.
Lord, heal our pain.

Leader: Let us say together: Help us to make peace.

For our country, tempted to accept violent revenge.
Help us to make peace.

For the conviction to recognize and uphold the dignity of all people.
Help us to make peace.

For the wisdom to see poverty, injustice and lack of educational and employment opportunities as likely causes of criminality,
Help us to make peace.

For guidance and compassion in addressing the pain of both victims and perpetrators of wrong-doing,
Help us to make peace.

For the fortitude to find solutions that protect the dignity of all people and bring about true reconciliation,
Help us to make peace.

For the inspiration to renew society on the basis of love and restorative justice,
Help us to make peace.

Leader: Let us pray

Father of compassion,
You let your rain fall on the just and the unjust.
Give us a heart like yours
so that we may love as You love,
even those who have caused us pain.

There is in our land a cry for vengeance and
a move to fill up death rows and kill offenders
but disguised as a call for justice.
Let true and lasting justice spring forth.

Jesus, our brother,
you suffered execution in the hands of the powerful
but you did not let hatred overcome you.
Help us to reach out to victims of violence
so that our enduring love may help heal their wounds.

Holy Spirit, Lord and Giver of Life
You strengthen us in the struggle for justice.
Help us to work tirelessly against state-sanctioned death
and to renew society in truth, justice, love and respect
so that violence will cease and peace may prevail.

Amen.

O Mary, Mother of Life, protect the Filipino people from the forces of death.
San Lorenzo Ruiz, pray for us.
San Pedro Calungsod, pray for us.

 

Church launches rehabilitation project for drug users

 

 Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle with a group involved in illegal drugs.

Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle with a group involved in illegal drugs.

The ranking members of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) have been silent for a long time about President Rodrigo Duterte’s bloody war on drugs.

Their silence is of course very much welcomed as it does not add up to more misunderstanding and disharmony between the church and the state.

It is, therefore, very encouraging and reassuring that while the church has kept their silence on Duterte’s relentless war on drugs, it has also understood the magnitude of the drug problem in the country that has already included government officials and other civil servants.

Understanding the enormity of the drug problem the country is having is one thing and appreciating the work government is doing in fighting and controlling it is another for it makes people and organization think how they could contribute to the efforts done.

It is in this light that the leaders of CBCP should be commended for putting their plan under wraps or without fanfare until now when they finally announced their launching of an anti-illegal drugs program aimed to rehabilitate drug addicts.

The program called, “Sanlakbay para sa Pagbabagong Buhay,” entails that parishes in the archdiocese set up treatment centers.

This worthy endeavor by the church definitely complements the planned construction of rehab centers by government in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao, with one being built in Nueva Ecija courtesy of a Chinese philanthropist.

Manila Archbishop Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle said that the program will be administered by the Restorative Justice Ministry which aims to provide psycho-spiritual support to drug dependents.

Restorative Justice Ministry head Fr. Roberto de la Cruz, said: “This is our reaction to what is happening to our country now. Are we not going to do anything and let them die? Let us help them.”

“Now that they’ve surrendered to the government, our task is to ask them to surrender themselves fully to God because that’s when transformation will start,” he said.

The individuals enrolled in the rehabilitation program will undergo spiritual formation, counseling, livelihood projects, skills formation training, arts and cultural program, and sports activities.

Comforting words, indeed, and much to hope and thank for.

Duterte’s 50 days in office

 

50 daysI have seen Philippine presidents come and go and got a little excited in two, namely, Ferdinand Marcos and Cory Aquino as prospects who could make a difference and propel this country to greatness.

Alas, what we saw and witness in their presidency is that one was successful in destroying democracy and the other was hailed as having triumphantly restored the same.

The others after Cory, well, I don’t think they really had the interest of the country and the welfare of the Filipinos in mind for one can only see where we are until today. Recent history will surely tell that not only had we been electing the wrong people, but corruption, drugs and criminality were allowed to flourish because of lack of political will.

Thus as the nation observes President Rodrigo Duterte’s 50 days in office one cannot help but feel encouraged, cheerful and optimistic that this time the Filipinos have finally elected a leader who is showing the character  and the supremacy that could make this country turn around towards growth, progress and respectability.

One can only feel admiration and awe that so much have been done in so short a time that is no doubt benefitting the larger number of Filipinos.

The world is watching us after Duterte declared war against drugs, criminality and corruption and while some human rights advocates here and abroad are complaining about the drug related killings, many are, however, applauding it for it was on this promise to end the ills of society that Duterte was given the overwhelming mandate to lead the country and he has walked the talk.

Duterte even came out with the name-and-shame list of government officials linked to illegal drugs, the latest casualty of which is former justice secretary and now senator, Leila de Lima.

It takes one to have real balls to do this and thank goodness Duterte has them!

One can only wonder if the Roxases, the Poes and the Binays could have generated the same excitement, comfort and upbeat feeling for the country and its people in just 50, if any of them were elected president.

To Duterte’s credit he has also been able to appoint leftists in his Cabinet, establish the much needed one-stop shop for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), implement the freedom of information (FOI) in the executive branch that has been badly sought by the people, put into use the RH law for good, resume peace talks with the communist  and Muslim rebel groups, sustain a robust economy, initiate salary increase for the police and military personnel, clean up and administer new guards at the New Bilibid Prison, etc.

All these and more in just 50 days!

Unimaginable?

You bet it is and we will just wait with greater expectations what the next 50 days will bring.