Another long exchange (12 pages) among members of pilipinasforum yahoogroups made 10 years ago. A friend asked me why I post here PF exchanges when some of the topics or the commentators were not obviously on free market or rule of law or personal responsibility and related topics. I replied that PF is my brainchild, I formed it along with a friend from UP, Monching Romano. It was in PF where I learned hard and long debates, and from those debates I slowly discovered the merits and beauty of free market.
I should post more PF exchanges in the coming weeks and months. Cheers.
The Church, Faith and Galileo
Posted in inq7.net, July 25-29, 2001
As I am still wrestling at the arguments over birth control and the long-term survival of this country (I am for population control.), the Church should also ponder and make a firm stand in regard to these stories reported recently:
1. The rape of nuns by priests, mostly in Africa - some of the nuns got pregnant, and higher priests encouraged abortions. One rapist-priest even got an assignment in England.
2. The Church in Mexico is against aborting the baby of a 12-year old child. This girl, who was reported to have a mental age of 8, was raped by her own father. Sad.
I think priests should be allowed to get married or to have girlfriends and yes, even boyfriends (ang daming homosexual, and why should the Church condemn it?) Bakit ba nila kailangan mag-rape? But maybe the problem is deeper than just not allowing priests to have a sex life--it may have its roots in gender issues. Enforced celibacy--talk about asking people to be abnormal. Tuloy, tingnan mo nangyayari--priests rape nuns, boys, etc.
Abortion is another issue that has to be examined closely. The Church will have to take a more flexible stand. The Church may also want to examine its stand against female priests. Maybe it ought to examine its reasons for denying women a greater role in the Church.
We should not equate priests who have done evil with the Roman Catholic Church. That logic is seriously flawed. It is similar to saying that since some of our countrymen are corrupt, then Filipinos in general must be corrupt.
The Church itself is a supernatural institution which will last until the end of time, as Jesus Himself guaranteed when he installed Peter as the rock on which the Church was built. Its members are not only the hierarchy, meaning the pope, bishops and priests, but also all the lay people who have been baptised. When we criticise the Church, we really criticise all the members of this institution.
What the Church reminds us is that man has a soul that is immortal. We have intelligence, free will, creativity, emotions, etc. which are manifestations of this spiritual soul. We do not inherit them from our parents like our physical traits, they are unique and unrepeatable gifts from God. These are infused in each one of us from conception and whether these are developed and nurtured to the full depends heavily on the environment in which the child grows – which explains the important role of parents, teachers and community in life-long education.
The Church teaches us that our life in this world is a pilgrimage to our ultimate destiny, which is Heaven. She teaches us to love one another as we love our neighbors, to live honest lives, to be generous, to work hard, etc. Aren't these the things we need to ensure full development? The poverty and wars that we see around us are in fact caused by greed and selfishness by people. If we only truly lived the Christian virtues individually and collectively, our society would be much different. The so-called Christian societies that scandalise us are only really caricatures of the true community that Christianity preaches.
Love itself involves trade-offs. Priests and other religious give up the material comforts of lay people to live their vocation of total dedication to God. The sacrifices that they make are not negative but really a positive affirmation of their love for God. Similarly, a married person has to fight against the temptation of having extra-marital relations with other people. Do we call the extraordinary acts of fidelity by spouses to each other as repression? Love is an act of the will. And our will has the freedom of doing both good or evil - to be faithful or not. To be faithful to one's spouse or to the priestly vocation is to really love. Otherwise, one would only really love oneself, which is selfishness.
Ronald, I'm not a member of the Roman Catholic Church. I left it a long time ago for various reasons which include certain issues on women--participation in the Church, abortion and contraception. Please note, I never said that the Church is evil because some of their priests err. I was just saying that the Church is requiring priests to be abnormal because of enforced celibacy, which, incidentally, I think is also cruel -- but that's my view.
As for your other views about the Church, I cannot comment on them. Please note, that since I'm not Roman Catholic, I feel free to speak my mind about the Church, the Pope and certain beliefs that it advocates especially if such have social impact. I am not bound by the dogma of the church. I had set myself free a long time ago. I say these things without meaning to offend other members of the Catholic Church. If any have been offended, I profer my apologies without changing my position. After all, my statements are just expressions of personal opinions.
Incidentally, I think the Catholic Church is just a human institution. I also don't believe in the existence of heaven and hell as a physical place so I don't think either place is an ultimate destination. You may look up the Pope's pronouncements on the matter which were featured by Reuters in 1999. I can furnish you a copy if you wish. As for devils, I don't think they exist either in physical form. I think that we create them in our minds by nurturning fear and anger, depression, anxiety, hatred and whatever would block or hinder the evolution of people and the expression of the God within people. Peace!
Vicky, thanks for your reply. I respect your opinion but would suggest that you read more about Catholic doctrine rather than simply criticizing it. I also went through that stage many years ago, but instead of running away, I faced the questions squarely and studied these issues deeper by reading the Catechism, papal encyclicals and other Church documents. Do we really understand the foundation for the Church's teaching on heaven and hell, marriage, etc? You'll realise that there's really much more about these issues than we normally assume. In the same way that we try to learn mathematics, science, economics, law, etc as extensively as possible (up to post-doctoral level for many of us), we should also try to spend time to study the faith with the same intensity. Cheers,
Ronald, thank you for a very well-written exposition. I agree with all your points. I have been attending doctrinal classes on-and-off for over a year now, not for rediscovery, but for strengthening. I never left and has no intention of leaving the Catholic Church.
I asked a priest then about abortion and volunteered how science can help in "justifying" certain cases, i.e., when the life of the mother is endangered, the woman was a victim of incest, or the fetus will grow abnormal. A requirement for these to be allowed is the fetus must be in early stages.
My mind was inclined to agree to allowing abortion because of the first two cases. I thought a life (the mother's) would be saved anyway. And in the case of the baby, he would not suffer should he live with a certain abnormality because he was a product of incest. The priest simply answered that abortion is murder. (Fine, let her mother die, I was tempted to talk back. The devil was working on me?)
(Another story: I cannot fully reconcile why certain Catholics and Christians favor death penalty, while they are against abortion.)
I just hope that the Church hierarchy should do more so justice be given to those victimized by Church people. The institution is above all this, but we cannot cite dogma when human nature does its damage.
I am still a Catholic and yes I have read my Bible and my encyclicals and my Church History. I did enjoy the History of the Reformation and the Counterreformation and the Second Vatican Council (BBC had a wonderful documentary series on it). I also believe that the Catholic Church is run by carbon-based beings and these carbon-based beings are not infallible and can make mistakes. I also believe the Church leadership must consider female priests. I also believe the Catholic Church in the Philippines needs to make apologies for egregious mistakes done in the name of Christ in this country specially the Christianization of this country. I also believe that divorce and birth control should be implemented with fear of the Catholic Church. I am also opposed to the current Church leadership trying to push the idea that contraception is a form of abortion.
Where the Church gets involved in are only on issues that involve morality because it wants to ensure that man's dignity and his full development is promoted. The Church has the right to speak because many of the citizens of the country are also Catholics. It speaks out against corruption and other abuses by people in authority because these trample on the poor and downtrodden, many of which are members of its flock. Christianity does not only mean going to Mass on Sundays, it is living the Christian ideal consistently at home, work, gym, parties, everywhere 24 hours a day. One does not stop being Catholic because one is now a politician or bureaucrat.
Ronald, the issue of separation of Church and State was not directed at the Church but at our political institutions. The Church has its moral and spiritual duties. However the process of interaction should not result in kowtowing to the Church in matters temporal. Morality specially Catholic morality should not be legislated unconditionally. On the issue of bad policies, we all are there to blame but to say the Church is not at fault or is guileless in the process is dishonest.
BTW I am a Catholic bureaucrat. I do not support abortion or divorce but I don't think that the Catholic Church has the right to impose this kind of views on a country's laws.
I also worry about the diminishing influence of the church on the morality of its churchgoers but that is the price it must pay for the historically shallow Christianization of the Philippines which the Church has never had the courage to publicly apologize.
Don't forget the role of the Church in the process of our historical development. How Church teachings were used to colonize our people. How the Church was used to defend the political and economic elites in our postwar development. Lord knows the critical collaboration of the Church with the Marcoses. How about the influence of the Opus Dei in the Church hierarchy.
In the early days, in the case of the Philippines, from the 17th century well into the current one, the Catholic Church was the dominant social and political institution. There were the thousands and thousands of friar lands. Remember the Ayalas and the Roxases were once entangled in this issue. Check with BPI and a few other banks who are among their wealthy depositors? Do not be surprised if they include the archdiocese of Manila and a few other archdioceses, a few religious congregations here and there.
Oh yes, I think the catholic church is the woman dressed like Jezebel in full splendor and drunk with the blood of the saints.
The catholic church has enslaved the minds of people not only in the Philippines but in many countries elsewhere. And they shame the name of God with their terrible historical record. It took John Paul II many years to finally apologize to the Jews. And is it not only a few decades ago that the Vatican lifted its case against Copernicus whom they persecuted for saying that the earth and the other planets revolve around the sun (somebody correct me)? Remember what they did to Galileo? He was imprisoned by the Inquisition in 1633 for fostering heliocentricity.
If the church that has been so hallowed is indeed for the poor and the people, let them sell their billions of assets, put up public trusts that will publish monthly financial statements for transparency so that the people will know. Mother Teresa shames a whole pile of them. People who live in palaces have no business talking about giving to the poor.
I would like to state that I am a devout Christian first and a devout Catholic second. Probably not as spiritually and intellectually devout as my good friend Ronald.
If the Catholic Church were infallible then why has the pope apologized to Jews, Muslims, the Greek Orthodox, women, ethnic groups, etc. Yes the Catholic Church has made mistakes and it will continue to do so. More pointedly, its leaders and representatives, being merely human will also make mistakes. But just because it is fallible it does not mean that I have lost faith in it. In my eyes the Catholic Church, because of the fact that it is human, makes more sense to me, is more accessible to me, is something I can more relate to.
After all, only God is perfect.
Religion, be it Catholicism, Protestantism, Islam, Judaism, all these were all founded for one purpose, to honor and love God and our fellowmen. If going to mass, confession, prayer meetings and all these other rituals of the Catholic faith bring me closer to God, as they do, then the Catholic church is doing its job as far as I am concerned. Sure some of its pronouncements, and positions on certain issues especially those of Cardinal Sin, are not acceptable to me, but it will not detract me from my use of the church as a tool in my never-ending quest for God. Yes the church works for me, guides me, points to me to the right direction.(Just as much as the government is supposed to work for me, too.) Call me simplistic, but it is in that simplicity that I find true faith.
The main difference according to some scholars is that "protestant work ethic which extols hard work, industry, even frugality, education, academic excellence as virtues to be imitated. These are virtues which can be gleamed by the bible. These virtues were never featured in my catholic education.
The church as structurally as I know it is both anti-poor and anti-rich. In fact, it has failed in its mission to evangelize the Filipinos. In fact the church is one of the most hypocritical and oppressive institution in the world today.
The church is not salvation nor is it God. It is us. And on this point, who is the catholic church anyway. As I see it, the bad guys, that my friend citizen Kori has been hankering about are the clergy who forms the most powerful bloc within the church but is definitely not the church.
Now, I do not wish to condemn the clergy as it is. Why do I stay with a religion where the most powerful sector is the most oppressive. I stay for my religion is not a religion but a faith. It is not an addiction but a way of life. It is not opium but a standard of mores and behavior which has taught me. It is my
teacher, my family, my faith, myself. I am not a fanatic, I am a Christian.
It was Ronald who said that the church will last forever and was guaranteed by Jesus when he installed Peter as the rock on which it was built. Or something along that line. Nothing personal, but that is one big fallacy. If you check with some of the more progressive bible scholars, they'll probably tell you that that "rock" allegedly referring to Peter was actually in reference to Jesus himself. Therefore, if this were true, then it is Jesus that is the foundation of the church and not Peter. But should it not be the case?
This issue is extremely critical because you have a church that claims it's been founded on some "Peter" and another one that was founded with "Jesus" as the "chief cornerstone". Which is which?
Let's trace them in history. The church or gathering or congregation that Jesus started was an interesting group. They had both men and women as leaders. Their ministers (or priests) were married and had children (so did Joseph and Mary the parents of Jesus if they were really married then they should presumably have other children aside from Jesus -which the bible actually said they did have other children). And while they went on their preaching they were also earning a living. Nothing wrong with that, I guess.
They worshipped God every hour every day, but for them, Saturday, the 7th day of the week was particularly holy. This was also the custom of Jesus and don't tell me because he was a Jew that's why he kept the Sabbath. Remember that the Sabbath command is part of the 10 commandments. It was the catholic church that changed it into Sunday in the Council of Nicea during the time of Constantine the Great (when thereafter thousands of Sabbath-keeping Christians were massacred by fellow "Christians" who followed the Sunday-as-holy-day law).
So looks like the Spanish Inquisition was not the first. They merely followed a precedent. I suspect there were more Christians murdered by their fellow Christians than all the Christians killed by the Moors or Muhamedans, or "infidels" as the Inquisition called them.
Going back to these two churches that I am attempting to describe. The church of Jesus seemed to have obeyed the original 10 commandments given by God at Mt. Sinai, which lists the laws as follows:
1. No other gods than Him, don't believe in anyone else
2. No graven images, no paintings, carvings, etc.
3. No misuse or vain use of God's name
4. 7th day of the week made by God Holy (no Sir, it's not the Jews who made the
Sabbath Holy, but God)
5. Honor your parents
6. Don't murder
7. Don't commit adultery
8. Don't steal
9. Don't lie
10. Don't covet.
Pretty straightforward eh? Now see what the catholic church from the time of this so-called "Peter" did to the 10 commandments.
1. they combined commandments #1 and #2 thereby downplaying #2
2. thereby adjusting the third to the tenth to become the second to the ninth and broke down the last one into (i) coveting against neighbor's wife and (ii) coveting all others belonging to neighbor. Why break down the ninth? Syempre kasi kukulangin. You must give it to them. These guys are pretty bright!
3. And then of course, changing the original fourth to read, "Lord's day" to mean Sunday. This to me is one of the many cases where the Roman catholic church "adjusted" the fundamentals to suit their tastes. Our economic managers are not that original. Then so that people will obey them and submit to everything they say, they invented the concept of hell. If you don't believe, you will go to hell.
So if during the time of Galileo the issue was heliocentricity, now it's contraception. Maybe in 400 years the catholic church will hail FVR as a saint for promoting family planning using contraception.
I do not want to mistake tradition for truth. It's like Christmas. What started as a pagan festival of "Saturnalia" when they had orgies and festivities, people now celebrate it as the birth of Jesus. How could he had been born in winter when the shepherds were out in the fields to pasture their flock as the bible says. Unless of course the bible is a mere figment of imagination.
I suspect only when people start just caring for their fellow human beings sans the rituals, dogmas, heirarchies, and threat of eternal punishment we will have peace on earth.
Nice theory Kori except that under the Phil. law on Succession--it's the relatives (illegit. children I know a number do have them); parents; brothers and sisters kung walang illegit children at parents; nieces/ nephews in default of the brothers and sisters.
I think the law on succession is the same or similar in other jurisdictions.
Probably your theory held true in the middle ages. Now if property rights are the issue and the law on succession no longer allows the automatic transmission of priest's property to the church (it being considered a stranger) unless there are testate provisions--then the Church doesn't have any reason to force priests to be celibate.
Intriguing thought: What if Jesus was actually married and had descendants? The book HOLY BLOOD, HOLY GRAIL speculates on this and does so convincingly. Sabi nga: Baka ang Merovingian dynasty sa France is the bloodline of Christ, via Mary of Magdala.
So, instead of SAN GREAL (Holy GRAIL), SANG REAL (Royal Blood) pala? Even the first disciples were married.
Come to think of it: If God were to send his only son to fully taste the travails and life of mankind, would that not include being married, having children, being a parent and of course, dying?
Dear Citizen Kori:
I take issue with your heretic version of Church History. Its widely off the mark and leaves out some of the more important issues.
Celibacy as a recruitment policy was adopted during the Middle ages after the Split of the Catholic Church in the Latin Rite and the Greek Rite Churches (Orthodox Churches). Priests were originally allowed to marry. Monks could not and the bishops were recruited from the monks. I don't know about the property rights issues but don't forget the security and confidentiality issues involved. How can the sanctity of the confessional be protected if married priests discuss confessions with their wives over the dinner table. Not to mention priests need to make a living and a wife and family could be a burden of the priest's priestly functions not to mention the congregation. These after all the dark ages and priests were frequently on the move to administer to largely rural flocks.
Secular priests are paid a salary and allowed to own property; it is not necessarily true that their property reverts to the church when they die. It only works with the religious orders. Ask the Dominicans, they are reputed to be one of the biggest landholding orders. Some of the great wines in the Middle ages came from Dominican wineries due to their vast holdings of winelands brought into the order by rich converts. Anyway celibacy has never been a burden with all our priests. That is why some have had mistresses and children out of wedlock. Pope Alexander VI of the Borgias was a famous example. He also practiced Nepotism too in appointing some of his offspring as Cardinals and Bishops. Recently, an Arch Bishop took French Leave and got married in a ceremony officiated by Rev. Moon. How embarrassing.
Anyway with all the married Protestant Clergy returning to the Catholic fold, we still have married Priests although these clergy men were trained in Protestant seminaries but its still the same Bible.
On Catholic massacres, you forget to mention the massacres of Huguenots by the Catholic French King in the Renaissance Period, the Jews by the Spanish Catholics in the Middle Ages, the Native American tribes in the Americas also by the Spanish.
Finally, Purgatory is a Catholic invention. Part of the program to sell penance and graces. Read your Noli me Tangere and the Canterbury Tales.
I am a Catholic, trying to be devout as much as I can and I may have committed the gravest sins you can imagine in my thoughts and deeds but in spite of all my sinfulness and almost shot at point blank a couple of times by certain Muslims in Cotabato City in the 60's and other near death experiences. God, with sincere prayers imploring His forgiveness along the lines that I learned as a Catholic, He did surely allowed me to live this far with a comfortable life.
I have nothing to complain about being a Catholic, neither do I complain about people with different faiths and I see them in all different skin colors, shape and sizes here in the U.S. Some are poor, very poor, other rich and very rich like the Kennedys.
As to those who have devoted their lives to the service of the Catholic Church and to God, I believe that they should be given the choice to marry or not. After all, Saint Peter was a married man when Jesus called him to the Ministry of worshiping God. Didn't the Bible said that Jesus healed the mother in law of Saint Peter from a severe fever?
I'm Southern Baptist. We do not have Catholic-type confessionals due to the belief that one's faith is between him and his God. So we pray straight to God for confession and forgiveness. We go to our pastor for spiritual counselling. As to the threat that baka i-tsismis sa pamilya ang problema ng parish, the pastor's wife is also closely involved in the ministry. So if a parishioner approaches the pastor in confidence, somehow understood na rin na the pastor's wife COULD be involved.
Our church provides for the church workers according to the capability of its parishioners. Our belief is that if we want our pastor to work well, we have to support him accordingly. Usually a pastor can choose to go to a rich parish (ie, in Greenhills) or a poor parish (ie, in Cuenca, La Union). For 15 years, my dad (who is now on a masteral scholarship in California) took the latter direction, and I don't think his case is rare among the many from our faith who believe they "have been chosen".
I understand that celibacy is imposed on nuns and priests because of the belief that the religious life must be a total commitment (mind+body+soul). On the other hand, no one can disprove that marriage and a family makes a person less effective in serving the church or community.
Also, take the related issue of the vow of poverty. Our church believes that if we deprive our pastor of material comfort (ie., house, car, education for the children), he cannot be an effective servant of God and community. So, poverty is not imposed on our church leaders; however, the level of material support to the pastor is relative to what the church can afford.
One last issue: the church that I go to makes weekly and monthly and yearly reports of our tithing. Audited pa ang financial statements ng simbahan. And the church is run by a board of deacons that make decisions similar to what the BOD would do for a corporation. Kaya kampante ako magbigay ng 10% ko dahil alam ko kung saan napunta (ie, medical missions, church planting sa Basilan at Ifugao, paggawa ng elementary school, family seminars). Infact, I can be issued receipts for my tithes upon request! Records show that tithing continues to increase in my church community. I guess people appreciate and respond more positively to this level of transparency and accountability from the church.
I wish I can say the same thing about my taxes as I would my tithes!
I was wondering when someone would bring up the issue of tithing. Personally, I am glad to see that Catholics are becoming aware of tithing as a spiritual practice. Unfortunately, the Catholic Church has lost much of its credibility. There is a perception that the Catholic Church has taken so much from the people but failed to return it to the people measure for measure.
As a practice, I understand that a tithe is given to a spiritual person or group that is inspiring you. A tithe is meant to support the material needs of the Church/group. Personally, I believe in tithing. What is 10% of your income anyway? If you believe that God is the source of all your good, 10% is such a small amount to return.
But Nayoka is right. The Catholic Church will have to account for the tithes and contributions that it receives. The group that I tithe to issues thank you letters and receipts. But will that be feasible considering the size of the membership of the Catholic Church?
There is RELIGION and there is SPIRITUALITY. the latter is broader, more inclusive. Imagine God or the Tao or Brahman or the One as an Ocean, with the different religions as the different rivers, streams, brooks which all lead to the sea.
RELIGION and religious practices are culturally based and are thus imprinted with the level of development (technological, cultural, social) of the society from which it sprang.
Unfortunately, Roman Catholicism has not yet fully cast of its agrarian/patriarchal/"subdue the earth"/empire-oriented birthmarks. So, what we have basically is a vengeful, Father-God, who is bent on obliterating all outsiders and non-believers.
IMHO, even the different Christian and Catholic sects (and subsects) are not on the same level of evolution (as far as its COMMUNITY of BELIEFS and believers are concerned). Some are no better than the Neo-Nazis or the Ku Klux Klan in the way they foment hatred and extinction of non-believers and intolerance of those who have different beliefs. Pre-Conventional morality, baga.
Others are more CONVENTIONAL: more tolerant of members of their in-group, but not open to other sects or faiths. Others are POST-CONVENTIONAL: Inclusive, global ang perspective, more empathetic and compassionate not only with fellow human beings but of the whole of creation as well.
I still think there is a great deal of hope for Roman Catholicism to evolve toward a post-conventional type of morality, but it will take the rebels outside and from within to achieve this. Ganoon talaga ang evolution.
The Catholic Church is not a monolith. It is also an evolving institution, no matter how its leaders would like to paint it as an unchanging body.
The Spirit, i believe, is trying to make its voice heard in the church (as well as in various aspects of society and individual life). Unfortunately, this voice is being distorted, if not actively being muted by the various "baggages" the church has accumulated throughout its long history. These include:
1. The belief that there is not salvation outside of the CHurch. Sabi nga, even before there was the Church, there was GOD. Plus, the Spirit blows where she will...So, the Church has no monopoly of good works and salvation.
2. The belief that only men can become clergy or pastors of the church & the doctrine of celibacy - which suggest an unreasoning fear and hatred of women.
3. The dualistic view about good and evil. Elevate one, destroy the other. This doesn't leave much room for compassion and empathy. Makes the world look simpler, though - and in the predisposes the Church to grant sanction, if not actively initiating wars and conquests.
Point is: the Church must grow up and evolve in all aspects (the individual believer, the community of believers, how the individual practices the faith, and the institution itself).
A key step here, I believe is for the individual Catholic to rediscover the entirety of Christian teachings, even those censored and dubbed as "heretical" by the ruling class within the Church. Go back to the roots, back to the source, back to Christ before Christianity. Find out what will sustain our faith in these times of anxiety and fear.
At the same time: learn also what we have in common with other faiths and religions (especially from the east) - Taoism, Buddhism (the various schools), Hinduism, etc. Perhaps, only in this way will our faith/spirituality mature and grow.
The challenge for each and every Catholic believer is precisely to learn more about their faith and their teachings. The Christian treasury of wisdom is so rich, so vast, so diverse.
Ang problema nga lang, hinayaan na nating ang mga "eksperto" na lamang ang mag-interpret ng ating pananampalataya. Hinayaan na nating ang mga pari, Obispo at ang papa(!) na lamang ang magdikta kung ano ang tama at mali. Malayong - malayo ito sa diwa noong unang Simbahan, lalu na noong nasa mundo pa si Kristo.
Paano na lamang iyan, kung ang ating mga "eksperto" ay psychologically unstable, bigoted, repressed homosexuals (mga baklang galit sa bakla), misogynistic (galit sa kababaihan), etc? Kawawa naman ang mga nanampalataya.
In the end, I think the Church will be changed by a grassroots faithful with greater access to information (secular and even doctrine-related), and a spirit of debate and struggle within the institution. Tipong Vatican III. Sabi nga ni JC,"I come not to bring peace, but a SWORD."