How America Gave Us RH and the Church

This picture has nothing to do with anything.
It’s just a good picture.

I hear the harsh words of the Catholic Church toward President Aquino and Secretary  Roxas about their backing of the RH Bill. It rings as a mocking echo of the anger the Church felt toward Philippine national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal in 1886.  The Church at that time went so far as to encourage a change in the governor general of the Philippines to put in place a man who would do their deed, execute the troublesome Dr. Rizal  to snuff the emerging rebellion.

The events of the time are a little confused as history has been tweaked by the players in ways that we can’t fully know. We can understand how such things happen by considering Senator Enrile’s book, which some argue is a remaking of history. His book may become truths for readers 100 years from now.
One of the confusions about Dr. Rizal is whether or not he recanted his allegiance to the Masons to return to the Catholic Church just prior to his death. A letter exists that suggests he did, but its authenticity is debated. Even if the letter were real, one would have to guess as to why Dr. Rizal sought to make things right with the Catholic faith.  Perhaps so that he would die as one with his disadvantaged brothers, the masses of poor Filipions abused by the Church and the Spanish. He appeared to have no regrets about dying for his people. 
Consummatum est” he said just prior to being shot. “It is finished.”
Dr. Rizal left behind left two secret messages, one in an oil lamp pointing to a second message in his shoe. But by the time his remains were dug up, the second message had disintegrated. It is worth knowing that the powers who executed Dr. Rizal were so vengeful that they did not place his body in a coffin. They buried him in the dirt in an unmarked grave.
So some things we cannot know.
Another confusion is exactly what the relationship was between Dr. Rizal and the United States. Did the U.S. play him or use him to influence the political situation? One of those masterful behind-the-scenes global power plays the U.S. is so good at?
The Philippines to the U.S. was an arm of the battle to throw the Spanish out of the Americas. The U.S. engaged the Spanish in the Philippines with the backing of certain Manila power brokers. America did not simply march in with conquest in mind.
Concurrently, Emilio Aquinaldo organized the formation of an independent Philippines and sought support from the U.S. for his new state. It would appear the U.S. reneged on a promise by U.S. Admiral Dewey to President Aguinaldo to back the Philippine State because the Americans did not think the Aguinaldo government was strong enough to stand on its own. Americans feared that if they left, the Philippines would be in play again for conquest by any number of other interested states.
The U.S. waged a brutal war against Aguinaldo’s forces during the Philippine American War. Many American politicians were outright racist at the time. You can get a good sense of American engagement from an essay I wrote a couple of years ago, found above in the right tab called “Fire when ready Gridley“. The U.S. may even have orchestrated the start of the war to keep the Philippines under American auspices.
We can speculate about many things.
Perhaps Aguinaldo would have succeeded with his new state had the United States been more gracious.  Or if Filipinos had not been so argumentative and divided among themselves. We know Aguinaldo was determined to rid the Philippines of the Catholic presence as well as the Spanish masters. It is reported that the first three friars hunted down by Aguinaldo’s forces were barbecued on a spit and hacked to pieces. Aguinaldo gained the allegiance of Father Aglipay, who, excommunicated by Rome, established the Aglipayan Church. The Aglipayan Church became the “church of the people” and membership exploded. The Catholic Church was on a path to oblivion.

As history would have it, American Catholics asserted themselves during negotiations on the Treaty of Paris that “sold” the Philippines from Spain to the United States. Protections for for the Catholic Church were written into the Treaty and the Church immediately turned pro-American. 
A fine record of these events is recorded by Macario A. Capili (“Macapili”) in his article entitled “The day the Catholic Church almost died“.

The U.S. introduced its Bill of Rights into the governing Constitution of the Philippines, including the provision for separation of church and state. The Constitution put the interests of the Philippines, as a secular State, over the interests of the Catholic Church.
So today, we have the Church, still strong, still involved, still responsible for values and acts of a nation locked in corruption and poverty. But Church leaders can only argue and preach and complain; they cannot declare laws. The Church is outside looking in.
One can easily imagine the Philippines today if the Church still had an official role in the affairs of state.
  • We would not be having this discussion.
  • RH would not be in the lexicon of Philippine political language.
  • JoeAm would either not be living here, or he would be in jail.
  • The Freethinkers web site would not exist.
  • A Muslim underclass would be ruthlessly ground into the Mindanao mud.
  • Many voices would be silenced.

So America both saved the Church and forced it out of government.

Archbishop Jose Palma
CBCP President

That is why today the bishops are on the outside, looking in. And why RH finally passed.

Church leaders still talk as if they are entitled to special privilege and authority. They act as if it is wholly proper to declare the President of the Philippines  a “threat to democracy”. Or to angrily threaten that Mar Roxas will not become President of the Philippines because he backed the RH Bill.

The Church pushed her hostile, demanding doctrine to near demise in Rizal’s era and she can achieve the same ends this century. An organization that condemns education, refuses to learn, and aims hostility toward good people, makes her own bed.
I wonder what history books the bishops are studying.
They appear incapable of change, humility or compassion. The political Church is once again on a path of dogmatic instruction of others and self-imposed irrelevance. The shame is that most of the Church is not political, but the entire Church will pay the price for those priests who are.

17 Responses to “How America Gave Us RH and the Church”
  1. Cha says:

    Yesterday, the Inquirer run a story on the CBCP President's move to push for a probe on the 2010 voting machines. Unbelievable, I thought. Thousands have died from the ravages of Pablo, even more are sick and hungry. Meanwhile, Quinta was also causing damage in other parts of the country. But the bishops would rather concern themelves with and call attention to issues of politics instead of those needing some good Samaritan hands to help them get through the recent devastation.Today, another head-turning statement from another bishop, "Let's paint the country red vs RH Bill". If it weren't a bishop speaking, I'd say sore loser. But he being bishop and all, other words come to mind.

  2. Yes, it is hard to understand how the Church can administer to the needy when it separates the flock into good people and bad people. Then castigates the bad people rather than minister to them. Or even listen to them.An entire nation is rising to say "enough of this backward ignorance and unkindness toward the living" and the Church is saying, "No! We want more!"

  3. andrew lim says:

    One group happy with the One Million Red Ribbons movement of the anti-RH bloc is the Red Ribbon Bakeshop. It's free advertising, and once Pnoy signs the bill into law, you can have the cake and eat it, too. 🙂

  4. JoeAm shall run his first advertisement . . . for the Red Ribbon Bakeshop.Seriously, though. I agree with Cha. So much energy dedicated to tearing down, versus building up. Ignore the born. Fight the losing battle to stop the tide of human enlightenment.

  5. Anonymous says:

    The greater irony (blasphemy?) is the cult of Rizalistas declaring Rizal a deity like Christ.DocB

  6. Edgar Lores says:

    1. A profound historical perspective of a road not taken. 2. We are slaves as long as we recognize a master.3. Some slaves have cast off their chains and no longer recognize a master.4. Freed slaves can define their own future, so the future belongs to them.5. The wrong-headed bishops are increasingly forsaken masters.6. They believe they own many slaves because some slaves remain and continue to do their bidding.7. These deluded bishops are dead to reality – blind to the compassion at the heart of their merciful faith – and are vampires that show their long fangs whenever they open their mouths. 8. PNoy, Rizal and the thousands of freed slaves are – like the real and mythical Lincoln – vampire-slayers.

  7. Edgar Lores says:

    P.S. I thought I would go into retreat and not condemn but it is hard to stay silent… Peace is a pond and a river.

  8. JosephIvo says:

    1- Moving from magical thinking to rational thinking. People choosing to keep thinking magical need structure too, the church is providing that. Explaining a typhoon as God’s punishment is easier to accept if you feel a member a larger group understanding God’s wrath. We all want to understand a lot so we can control better the future. Rationalism is often used to rationalize, to appease ones conscience. "How to explain my many mistresses?" might have been a driver in Rizal’s rationalism. 2- Moving from a culture of dominance into a culture of appreciating the values of the French revolution: equality, liberty and fraternity in diversity.Many people like a structure of dominance because it is easier to understand: God telling an infallible pope to tell the people what to do. This is much easier than accepting equality or "your position does not add to your arguments", freedom and thus responsibility to make the right decision, fraternity or love thy neighbour as thyself, scary. 3- … and then there is politics and its hidden agendas.I respect people making an independent choice for magical thinking or accepting dominance and I don’t mind if they convince others by their “happiness”. I do not accept someone enforcing this thinking on others as the only choice or using scarring tactics of hell and damnation in the afterlife. Weren't these main themes in Noli me Tangere? It were the discussion points in the 60’s of our student group “The Bridge”, trying to bridge the conservative stands of our Bishops controlling our university and the progressive wing of students fired up by Vatican 2 (We didn't manage, but the Bishops lost control). Back in time, the nostalgic fun of being in the Philippines.

  9. Yes, that is a delicious irony. Rizal is for sure an interesting guy. Incredibly gifted with language and insight. Hard headed in ways that cost him his life. Gullible. Fast with the ladies and fast of feet when his literate political calling drove him onward. He is multi-racial. About as multi-racial as can be. He had extraordinary friends and envious rivals. He could make up a good story, rich with meaning. He wanted to face his executioners but they were directed to shoot him in the back. He was no God, just a dedicated, compassionate, stubborn capable guy born at either the right time, or wrong time, depending on how you look at it.

  10. I'm glad you did not go into retreat. I have taken to making a distinction between the two churches, one political, one spiritual or at least service oriented. It is the political arm, mainly the CBCP, that seems intent on plowing (ploughing?) its own way in a more rigid and hostile way than I see in Rome. It is incredible to me that a Church would seek to undermine the sitting President or the good works of government.I was raised to be respectful of religion and to allow others their faith. To my parents that meant keep my yap shut. But I can't do that when the Church is engaging politically. They deserve no special place where criticism is reserved.

  11. Yes, it's old ground perhaps that I cover, for studious Filipinos. New ground for me, and I'm covering it out in the open.Magic, superstition. Doctrine apart from science. Those are facets of the manmade or political church. One of the troublesome aspects for me is that I can find rich spiritual moments in a cathedral just wandering through the history attached to the place, or during a worship service, or alone on a mountain. There is a community of one that occurs, unspoken, and perhaps beyond this earth. I'll have to deal with it here some day.But the upshot is that I am not too harsh on those who give of themselves to a Greater Being, insofar as it eases pains or keeps them from going down destructive paths.So magic? I dunno. I leave that to others without judgment.

  12. CBCP and Roman Catholic church should be classified as virulent obnoxious rabid hate group organization !!!! Its tax-exempt status should be withdrawn.

  13. J Elza says:

    I have long lost my respect to priests not belonging to the religious – the secular priests who makes up the membership of the CBCP. When I found out that priest who are not members of a religious community do not have the vow of poverty – just the vow of obedience & celibacy, I started to take a second look. And a vow of obedience to the powers that be within the church hierarchy – not to the laws of the land, et al. Without the vow of poverty, priesthood is just any profession in the coated word of vocation. That means priests acquire wealth, like any other human being. So it is not wrong to assume that donations coursed through them for disaster mitigation may not all be sent on the intended purpose. And yes, one can hardly see now a secular priest who has the heart or compassion to the poor and humility? – that word is vanished from their vocabulary. Secular priests still think that this is the era of the Spanish regime – with all the servants doing all their bidding… No, padres, Filipinos are now learned and educated…. and you and I are all accountable to the One Almighty power….

  14. "virulent" is hereby declared the word of the day.

  15. Right, it is this gap between kind ministering and self-interested politics that is disturbing, as if Jesus became an Old Testament recidivist. When an organization is hostile to the State, it bears watching. And when it is tax exempt, we taxpayers are all being played for fools.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for the Macapili blog. – MB

  17. Your'e welcome. He did a lot of work on that.

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