WHEREAS the year 2012 for the Catholic Church in the Philippines has been star-studded with choicest blessings the likes of a 2nd saint, a 7th cardinal, the Year of Faith and the New Evangelization, among many others, it has also been the year of so many onslaughts against the family and life capped with the passage of the Reproductive Health Law. The best and the worst of times, indeed. Or so it seemed.
After that monumental RH defeat, a chorus of columnists and one or two international news agencies outrightly jumped into their conclusions that the Catholic church do not anymore enjoy its glory days and command of its faithful followers (as if it were the agenda of the Church, in the first place); but without citing the news lead of catholic media that there was in fact so much pressure and pork applied to the legislature by the Palace. The words of the chair of the Episcopal Commission on Family and Life, Bishop Gabriel Reyes, capture it well: “It’s already like dictatorship because the executive already controls the Congress and the Judiciary…Forcing a congressman to change his principle and conscience for pork barrel, government projects, political favors…it’s also as if you are bribing the congressman. Isn’t that corruption?”
Of course, it was all about money and political power. It never was about values and principles—or faith, if you may. That is why the cursory analysis of the secular media that the Catholic Church has lost its grip on its followers is not really so plausible affront. The closest that it can get is the reality that the Church need to sincerely admit and do a “mea maxima culpa” that it has been too complacent with its serious task of doing catechesis. Ironically, catechetical or integral formation has been the pastoral priority of the Second Plenary Council of the Philippines and its succeeding recalls, but it never landed on good soil.
A recent interview with a young professional who was mesmerized with the “teachings” of the pro-RH advocates revealed that she did not know or was not taught about the teachings of the Catholic Church about life and the family. That maybe said, too, with other teachings of the Church. Listening to some legislators justify their votes on the RH Bill was like looking at a barometer of how Christianity—or mere religiosity—has taken root or otherwise in the hearts of Filipinos. Really, the number of baptized Catholics does not easily translate into the equation of catechized Catholics.
And there is another rub. This has floated lately in an article of a columnist, known for being a Palace apologist, who accused the bishops for raising lately the issue on the alleged irregularities of the PCOS machines during the last elections as “a conspiracy to cast doubts on the validity of the 2010 elections” and, consequently, to spite President Aquino for pushing and signing in the law the RH bill.
This certainly is not in the least of intentions among the bishops. But Palace spin doctors will henceforth use this gambit whenever the Catholic Church becomes critical with this administration. But, of course, the bishops know the better.