The CBCP: A Foreign Occupation

You’ll have to excuse me. We Americans are used to our churches being harmonious members of society rather than divisive. Indeed, churches in the U.S. are banned by law from trying to advocate on political affairs. So it rubs my nerves raw to see the Catholic Church working hard to dominate Philippine government affairs.

Thomas Jefferson had the wisdom to see the animosities that arise if religion and politics are mixed. His writings (Constitution and various letters) defined a wall of separation between Church and State.
The Philippines has a tattered drape of cloth instead. It is made of a strange material, for it allows robed Church men through to meddle in State affairs, but it blocks the State’s people from meddling in church affairs.
Let me make two points clear from the getgo:
  • I think the Catholic Church is a fine institution when it sticks to the business of caring for the spiritual lives, foundational values, and emotional well-being of its flock.  I have never met a priest or nun whom I did not respect for their good heart and dedication to the work of God, as they understand His calling.
The CBCP (Catholic Bishop’s Conference of the Philippines), on the other hand, is a corporate organization that extends beyond the bounds of caring for people’s souls. It raises money. It engages in politics, which by definition is a dirty business. It takes its direction from Rome.  And it has become desperate for defeat of the RH Bill. Its criticism of the secular Philippine government’s acts has risen to angry attacks on good people, insults to government officials and loud efforts to impose Church values on people who do not belong to the Church. This shrill attack is beyond decency, the latest blast being directed at the House of Representatives for “railroading” passage of the RH Bill to the amendment stage.
Archbishops to the left . . .
The intensity of the Church complaint has little to do with the RH Bill itself. It has to do with survival of an institution that seems insistent on moving headlong into irrelevance because its frozen Doctrine can’t keep pace with human knowledge, ethical values such as gender equality, and the demands of modern lifestyles. 
Now here are some fundamentals.
The CBCP is an institution parented in Rome. It is a foreign organization with allegiances that may or MAY NOT have the best interest of the Philippines at heart. Indeed, the current RH Bill deliberations are considered a threat to Rome, for the Philippines is one of the Church’s last bastions of 15th Century morality. The HR Bill is a huge crack in the Church foundations. It is a big threat.
The CBCP is desperate to stop it. Thus the outrageous attacks on Philippine government process.
The guiding document for the Catholic Church is the “Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church” prepared by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace for His Holiness Pope John Paul II in June of 2004. It is an extraordinarily rich and thoughtful document, reflecting the heart of a good Pope and the brainpower of Church intellectuals. 
Here are some excerpts pertinent to sorting out State and Church responsibilities.
Exerpts from CHAPTER EIGHT
THE POLITICAL COMMUNITY
385. The political community finds its authentic dimension in its reference to people:
396. Authority must be guided by the moral law. All of its dignity derives from its being exercised within the context of the moral order,[804] “which in turn has God for its first source and final end”
398. Authority must enact just laws, that is, laws that correspond to the dignity of the human person and to what is required by right reason
424. Although the Church and the political community both manifest themselves in visible organizational structures, they are by nature different because of their configuration and because of the ends they pursue. The Second Vatican Council solemnly reaffirmed that, “in their proper spheres, the political community and the Church are mutually independent and self-governing”.[867] The Church is organized in ways that are suitable to meet the spiritual needs of the faithful, while the different political communities give rise to relationships and institutions that are at the service of everything that is part of the temporal common good. The autonomy and independence of these two realities is particularly evident with regards to their ends.
Archbishops to the right . . .
The duty to respect religious freedom requires that the political community guarantee the Church the space needed to carry out her mission. For her part, the Church has no particular area of competence concerning the structures of the political community: “The Church respects thelegitimate autonomy of the democratic order and is not entitled to express preferences for this or that institutional or constitutional solution”,[868] nor does it belong to her to enter into questions of the merit of political programmes, except as concerns their religious or moral implications.
427. In order to prevent or attenuate possible conflicts between the Church and the political community, the juridical experience of the Church and the State have variously defined stable forms of contact and suitable instruments for guaranteeing harmonious relations
JoeAm’s short-form interpretation of these sections:
385: Government is of, for and by the people.
396: Ultimately, God is the source of dignity for government and the people, through moral order. So it can be argued the State must abide by God’s moral values. Atheistic values are not moral, I guess. They are just rational. When rational conflicts with moral, go with moral, eh?
398: Laws must be just and correspond to the dignity of the human person. The human person includes women. I’m not sure the Catholic Church grasps how gender biased her thinking is, or perhaps the old men who lead her understand but don’t care because Doctrine does not allow them to care.
424: The State should stay out of the Church business and the Church should respect the State’s work. However, the Church would be expected to engage the state as it concerns “religious or moral implications.” I wonder if there is any subject that does NOT have religious or moral implications!
427: Harmony can be achieved only if the Church and State agree on stable forms of contact and instruments that promote harmony. The CBCP appears to have ignored this section. Maybe an official complaint to the Pope is in order.
The CBCP is a Foreign Institution Occupying a Prominent Place in the Philippines by Gracious Permission of the State
If we check our Humpty Dumpty History Notes, we see that the Catholic Church for 300 years held direct operating authority over the Philippines working with a long list of nitwit Spanish governors who enriched themselves as they zipped in and out of the Philippines, largely disinterested in the well-being of the nation. Jose Rizal died to break the grip of the Church on the Philippines. Thousands of Filipinos died fighting against the Spaniard and Church racist occupation of the Philippines.
The Church is not much different than was America during her colonial stewardship of the Philippines. Arrogant. Thuggish. Discriminatory.
America eventually conceded sovereign rights to the Philippine people, represented by their government. And left.
Archbishops in Manila.
The Catholic Church refuses to grant the Philippine people this right. The right to be free of the Lordship of the Church with its agenda defined in Rome. The Church insists on trying to be the boss of us all.
  • Would we permit the Chinese Ambassador to stand before a press conference and condemn legal and official steps taken by the Philippine legislature?
  • Would we permit Secretary of State Hillary Clinton of the U.S. to condemn the legislature for its judgments of process as to what is best for the Philippines?
No way. What an affront. What an outrage for a foreign institution to stick its nose into the sovereign affairs of the Philippine State.
Indeed, the Chinese Ambassador and the American Secretary of State, as professionals of diplomacy, recognize that it is their duty to respect the sovereign rights of other nations.
But Rome, through the CBCP, does not grant this respect to the Philippine government. Rome’s Ambassadors to the Philippines arrogantly insist on telling the Philippines how to run its secular business.
Would we permit the Mormon Church, anchored in Salt Lake City, Utah, U.S.A. the same right? The right to stand up loudly and condemn the way the Philippines chooses to run its government?  To threaten the President with excommunication?
No. No. That would be arrogant and obnoxious in the extreme.
So sorry. I don’t buy into this foreign Church’s presumptive right to interfere in government, and certainly don’t accept her right to speak for me. This is not a warm and fuzzy institution, protected by Hail Mary’s and nun’s skirts and some idolized belief that, like our fathers and mothers, it does not make mistakes. It is of men occupying a form of royal throne in Rome. The CBCP presumes a favored place among religious institutions in the Philippines, calling it a “Catholic country”. Perhaps a Muslim or two disagrees.
The CBCP is an organization of man, chartered to represent an interpretation of God’s intent on earth. It has a written document that allows it to communicate its understandings and goals to other men. It is a giant corporate institution with an organization chart and accounting department and minions running left and right doing the bosses’ biddings. These are not angel wings, these robes, these uniforms designed to impress. They are growths of animal, cotton or silk, or manmade material. They are not spun from a golden wheel lodged somewhere north of the clouds. These men do not drift down from the heaven as if on some ecclesiastical parasail.
Why do we have them on a pedestal when they do not earn the right to stay there?
When they climb down from the pulpit to mix in the mud that makes up Caesar’s realm, why must we treat them with kid gloves?
Why is it possible for an old woman to spit in our face, but we can’t shove her away from us?
Perhaps it is proper for this particularly ancient old woman, this frozen relic of moral authority that has been instrumental in making the Philippines what it is today —  dirty, corrupt, un-inspired, and dirt poor — to STAND BACK.
To GET OUT OF THE WAY of progress and education and good treatment of women. To get out of the way of care and kindness.
Rome, through the CBCP, needs to respect the government of the country which so graciously allows it the freedom to operate in the Philippines.
Perhaps it is finally time for the Catholic Church to become humble, to STAND BACK from political engagements and get to work on the spiritual enlightenment of its flock, providing good values and good acts, solace and guidance to its flock, teaching wisdom and  . . . indeed . . . respect.
Comments
19 Responses to “The CBCP: A Foreign Occupation”
  1. andrew lim says:

    This coincides with Sen Sotto's tirades against foreign intervention in the RH bill. I was commenting on other sites that he should also give a speech on how the Spanish colonizers brought in Roman Catholicism here and forced it on people.As if Filipinos back then were savages who needed salvation. But we had a thriving society, with its own culture. This would make for an interesting discussion with Dicky Boncan, the RCC apologist.

  2. I believe the good Senator is either desperate or paranoid. I shall refrain from being overly critical of the mentally challenged. However some word associations did pop into my brain. Caricature. Dinosaur.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Contrary to Andrew's impression, DocB is not Boncan, the RCC apologist.DocB

  4. andrew lim says:

    Sorry about that, DocB.

  5. Edgar Lores says:

    The Philippine charter is absolute in its doctrine of the separation of the State and the Church, but the Church charter has a loophole in Section 424? How nifty!Also the Church invokes Section 423 of the charter to claim "special recognition" due to "historical and cultural ties to a nation".The government – in its sovereignty – should not recognize the church charter at all. It should be as simple as that. But it's not because of the pusillanimity of politicians.As per previous discussions, the government should go farther: o It should not allow religious imagery of any kind in government offices. o It should not allow religious rites in government offices unless the ceremonies are ecumenical. o It should pass a bill to fine (or tax) the church for political interference.You say the Church should stand back (pull). I say the State should stand up (push).

  6. Edgar Lores says:

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  7. Yes, I agree entirely, as the Church is so obstinate it is unlikely to pull back. I'd add a fourth bullet, to pursue a diplomatic initiative with Rome to instruct their Philippine subsidiary to pursue harmony not divisiveness or risk censure.

  8. Ha, thanks for confirming what I guessed when Boncan responded to a note I sent him. It was the same erroneous logic and odd thinking of an apologist, and not the insight I have come to expect from you, DocB.

  9. Anonymous says:

    From: Island jim-e (aka: The Cricket)1. Edgar don't take censorship as a personalaffront or to demean your contribution in anyshape, form or fashion. I am sure that yourealize we appreciate and value your particpation!Remember that you are not immune! Censorship bythe "masters" is a fact of life (like Yahoo andMMDA erasing negative comments and contributing tothe problems of island chaos.(I am of the opinon that the "Masters of islandChaos are the family die-nasties, church, mis-governments and mis-educators with the aide of the island associations and professional elite!)Note: As my wife tells me "it is for yourown good" and if you stick your nose out "they"might kill-you! (LOL)!2. As regards this essay subject–"The Blood ofThe Lambs"…it is a written fact that disease-pestilance, radio-active- bio-chemical vectorsand mis-governments! are the number one killerof mankind and not wars and "good -mis-managementintentions of the world temporal) based institutionalchurches (especially the Muslims, Holy Roman C0-2Church and Mormons)!3. Churches more than governments and diseaseare the number one killers (or motivator) of the spirit, soul, id, ego,and super-ego. As the "new-era" media- radio/tv/film/video/games/sports and shopping malls has taken over the"stage"(no more public or private "glad-he-ate-ors",burning at the stake, whips, chains, mechanisms oftorture, and other special events like "witch burning" or "sleeping with the devil",etc.!While under the "shelter of the cross"–the churchhas to try to regain some control-traction over the"sheep"–and ergo they have "forted up", "circled thewagons" and use whatever topics (to promote morefear,ignorance, superstion, control and dominations)as a leverage to that end! If they are allowed to use stupidity- emotion-fear-ignorance-superstition, etc., over reason and scientificfacts then they will win! Fear is the most powerfulengine that I know of…wins hands down over love andknowledge any day!4. Rememeber "Homer"…"What is mind? No Matter"?,What is matter? No Mind!" (Homer Simpson)! 5. Fractured farey/fairie/fairy-tales, folk-lore,folk-tails, memory ques,superstition, legends,heroic myths, giants, vampires, etc., still rulethe day and nite in our islands! a. To wit: "The Psyic Medical Doctors Of ThePhilippines" (about 1960 time period as featuredin most tabloids and National Geographic)! b. Tuesday, August 14th, 2012 Inquirer, Page #4-LifeStyle Wellness page: Article written by:Jaime T. Licauco on "Inner Awareness": Quote veradnasium: "Assuming there is no rational or medical explanatin for those deaths (6 siblings of7 total deaths probably caused by smoking, badhabits, bad nutrition, etc.), then iut's time youlook intoother non-phsycal causes. Among the possibilecauses area: 1. Your house…2. Negative Spirits…,3. …a curse on the house….! Advice: Have your hoe investigated for a competent clairvoyant or medium (paid of course)….! Note: My next "Soul-mates, Karma & Reincarnation seminar will be….!Note: I undersstand anyone can go to any local wet-market and purchase a bottle of "tonic" to preventchildbirth or childbearing–and "witchdoctors" stillrule in the island streets!6. Sidebar: Did you know that the author of thechildrens rhyme "Mary Had A Little Lamb"–wasreputed to be a one-room-school teacher and supposedly died in a home for the insane! Thishome spun parable–Mary (Mother of Jesus) The"lamb" (Jesus) and the Fleece white with snow(Jesus/the church without sin)! It seems to methat any "CHURCH" that keeps sticking theircollective thumbs in the eye of good governanceis WITH SIN ("render unto ceaser the thingswhich are….")Chirp!

  10. "If they are allowed to use stupidity- emotion-fear-ignorance-superstition, etc., over reason and scientificfacts then they will win! Fear is the most powerfulengine that I know of…wins hands down over love andknowledge any day!"I am stunned at the gullibility of the human kind, and especially the Filipino human kind, regarding hexes and poxes and curses and oaths from the Church. It's like, "man are we in playschool here, or what?"Reason will have to do battle with the devilish tendency of human kind to fear . . .Yes, the Catholic Church to me is too often looking like the wolf in sheep skin, the one who gobbled granny and frightened the oboes out of Peter.

  11. p.s., Edgar removed his own comment posting, not I. Edgar can say whatever he damn well pleases anytime here.

  12. Edgar Lores says:

    @jim-e1. I deleted the comment myself. I made a facetious remark that seemed inappropriate for such a serious subject. Joe has gone to great lengths as usual to shed light on the subject, something that no Filipino blogger would even think about, dare write, much less touch with a 10-foot pole. But thanks for the consolation. 2. On item 3, I agree, fear is the great motivator. Which is ironic, when religion should teach love.3. On item 5, again I agree that our thinking is caught at the level of superstition. There are many classifications of thinking, but the one I adhere to is from Lecomte Du Nouy's book "Human Destiny" which I read in college.3.1 He says the next level is "static" thinking, which is true cause-and-effect thinking, but is limited to just one Primary Cause, for example. "Clouds cause rain". He suggested the next level is "process" thinking, which identifies all secondary causes after the Primary Cause until, for example, the cycle of rain is fully explained. I have expanded this basic repertoire with techniques like "lateral thinking" (de Bono). 4. Licauco's thinking is superstition – no real cause-and-effect. The level below that is magic thinking. The distinction I make between the two is that superstition is relatively benign, attributing causes to supernatural constructs such as curses and spirits. But magic thinking is malignant, attributing causes to human agencies, and advocates torture, murder or sacrifice.5. Sorry to "lecture", but this might help people reading this blog – and Joe can always delete inappropriate comments.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Fear (at least of helllish fire) is not a great motivator. Does anyone believe in Hell or Purgatory as a place or transit point anymore? I think the greatest motivator is material incentive. Look at the congressmen working their asses off for the pork barrel. They take all comers including the Religious Lobby. No Hell, Guilt, Fear, Karma for them…DocB

  14. Edgar Lores says:

    1. There are two ways of looking at motivation: motivation from the individual self versus motivation from an external agency.2. If motivation is from within, there is no doubt that Greed (material incentive) wins hands down.3. But if motivation is from without, between using fear or love to motivate people, dictators (or even just bosses) will always choose fear. It has proved more effective. It is easier to subdue the populace with implied threats than with chocolates. (In parallel, the fear of Hell may have gone, but there is still the fear of excommunication, of being an outcast, of not going to Heaven.)4. However, if the dictator overuses fear or rules for an extended time, there is a point when the desire for a better life becomes stronger than the fear. At that boiling point, a man will sacrifice his life to help overcome the dictator. (In parallel, many Catholics have reached this boiling point and are looking for answers elsewhere.)5. I have noticed that paradoxes abound whether in life or in quantum physics.

  15. Well, Doc, I agree with 80% of what Edgar says. I don't agree that bosses will always use fear because it is more successful than "love". I do note that in the Philippines, bosses are more autocratic than in the U.S. My personal experience is that there is a middle road called counseling that is best. It leverages an individual's desire for self-fulfillment (of which material gain is a strong element) built on a set of agree-upon goals. As periodic counseling occurs, the employee himself does the fear-mongering or the back-patting, with guidance from the boss, based on his performance relative to the goals.You seldom see clear goals expressed in the Philippines, so fear is a good tool in a "wing it" environment.

  16. Cha says:

    "Perhaps it is proper for this particularly ancient old woman, this frozen relic of moral authority,….. to STAND BACK."Hey Joe, I couldn't agree with you more on what you're saying here to the Bishops. But why must the association be with a woman? The Church, after all, is run solely by men.

  17. Yes, I was playing off the typical grammatical standard of referring to the Church as "her". I don't know how that came to be. The same with nationhood. We refer to America as "her".But there is no doubt that I could have more aptly referred to "frozen crusty old men pretending a high moral authority."

  18. Cha says:

    Lol, it's not your fault, I know. Just that it's not really a great time to be associated with the Church at the moment 🙂

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