Wednesday, June 22, 2011


A COLUMNIST and supporters of the Reproductive Health Bill now crawling in social networks zeroed in on half-hazard financial data of some dioceses and religious congregations that reportedly have placements in banks and investment houses allegedly running into billions of pesos.

Obviously, the equation they are trying to crack is to project the Catholic Church in the Philippines to be very wealthy and consequently relate it to her position against the passage of the RH bill that they tagged as pro-poor. This logic, of course, is flawed. Irrespective of whether the Church is rich or poor, that bill is definitely anti-poor in that it is founded on the bedrock of eugenicists the likes of Margaret Sanger who have a deep-seated bias against the poor that they claim should not thrive on the face of the earth.

If the Catholic Church in the Philippines is really wealthy, that should be a happy development indeed, because, unlike the pastor-centered protestant churches in the west (e.g. the Osteens and the Swaggarts) that personally own the assets of their churches, it only means that they have managed well their resources that belong to the parishes or dioceses and not to person of the priests or the bishops. Cardinal Jaime Sin, for instance, died poor and did not bequeath to his relatives the assets of the Archdiocese of Manila. Church assets are owned by the particular Christian community for the use of their pastoral and social programs.

But then it is not even correct to lump the Catholic Church in the Philippines as wealthy as if it were a centrally managed organization (like Iglesia ni Kristo is) because each of the 86 ecclesiastical jurisdictions in the country is independent from each other. While a few dioceses in the country maybe well-off financially, the majority is not. The Diocese of Borongan (in Eastern Samar), for instance, has a number of parishes that barely make both ends meet.

The friar lands that critics still impute to the church till today is a historical baggage that now is in never-never land. Time to correct wrong perceptions.

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