Does Catholicism Make Us More Tolerant of Corruption?

ArroyoTheories On Why Corruption Is Pervasive in our Catholic Dominated Society

Guest Article by Andrew Lim

As I write this, the Napoles scam grows more tentacles by the day, ensnaring much of the past Arroyo administration’s officials, (some of whom jumped ship to Pnoy’s Liberal Party in 2010) , local government executives and even the Catholic church hierarchy.

The outrage seems to be gathering steam slowly, fueled by media’s series of  articles on it. But a  nagging concern is this:  Why is corruption so pervasive in a country where Catholicism is a dominant force?  (We will define corruption here as the misuse or abuse of public office for private gain. Expanding its definition suited to one’s ideological bent is beyond the scope of the essay; e.g. Bishop Villegas attempted to re-define contraception as corruption in a public speech.)

Claiming it has membership of 80+ % of the population, Catholicism has been operating here for 400+ years, with its schools and churches built all over. Catholic rites and rituals are well-attended. Surely, it would not be unfair to expect that it has had its chances to impact on morals and culture.

Now take a look at the six administrations from the time of Marcos- three of them can be classified as highly corrupt, reaching up to the highest levels of governance. (Marcos, Arroyo, Estrada)  Arguments can be made that corruption did and does occur also with the other three – Aquino, Ramos, and Aquino – but it was/is relatively tempered and there was/is more control over it. In any case, three corrupt out of six governments is an astoundingly high 50%!   Why are we so cursed with bad leaderships?  Is there a shortage of good men?  Why is integrity in public service in such short supply?

To gain some perspective, let’s look at it globally: an outfit called Transparency International tracks  corruption and perceptions of it world-wide and ranks them according to a uniform standard. The latest survey of 2012 puts the Philippines in the bottom half, at no. 105. (out of 174 countries ranked)

Now here’s where it gets interesting:  when I was doing research for this paper, I noticed that very few Catholic-dominated countries could claim to have low levels of corruption, as per this index. Only Switzerland is in the top 10, and one can argue that it is a very secular state  with divorce and reproductive health laws in place. Italy hovers near the bottom of the first half, at no. 72. Spain though, fares better at no. 30. But for countries who shared the same trajectory as the Philippines – conversion through colonization – the results are dismal; South and Central American countries land in the bottom half. Is there a correlation here?  Is there a pattern?

To gain insight, I looked at certain aspects of the dominant Catholic religion in the country and found some key concepts or doctrines which could have an impact on the high tolerance for corruption and which may inadvertently encourage it to persist.


Catholicism is fond of hierarchies and the use of intermediaries, unlike other religions which encourage direct communication with God. In Filipino culture, directness is not emphasized, and the use of go-betweens in mediating conflicts and communication  is common. One feels protected by this wall. After all,  go-betweens usually do not take sides or judge critically.

Does this lack of directness lead to a lack of accountability for one’s moral decisions? Perhaps.  I want to use an analogy to drive home this point:  foreigners often wonder how Filipinos, who are friendly in person, very gracious and hospitable turn into rude, dangerous and inconsiderate drivers on the road. My theory is that the separation of the individual from the other guy emboldens them to be so- the car itself, the tint, the sunglasses. As long as there is no eye contact, you feel you can do as you please.

It’s probably the same with religiosity – when you have all those hierarchies, go-betweens and intermediaries (who will not be critical of you) then your sense of personal accountability to God goes down.


The use of padrinos or “taga-lakad” is pervasive in our culture, and this is mirrored in the use of saints and other holy figures in Catholic doctrine. Saints have a specialization for each kind of need: sickness, lost items or loved ones, impossible situations, etc. In the secular world, fixers exist for various reasons: licenses, permits, faster lines, etc. Job applicants and contractors seek padrinos in offices, hoping to seek the slightest advantage – e.g. for advance information, or in extreme cases, outright advantage in securing the objective.

Can we reach a point where we can get rid of this negative cultural phenomenon if we have Catholicism as a dominant religion?


Purgatory is perceived as a “halfway house” between heaven and hell, where those who have sinned  can still get to heaven if they spend some time in it, to do penance. This concept does not exist in other Christian religions.  Does this embolden would-be corrupt officials, since they think they will still have a chance to go to heaven when they die, since purgatory exists?  Why not delay your conversion from sin to your death bed, and enjoy life according to your wishes instead?  Is this what the pork barrel Congressmen were probably thinking? Is there less fear of punishment in hell because of this concept?


In the aftermath of the 1986 EDSA revolution, the call for reconciliation instead of justice was louder, with Tito Sotto even writing that song “Magkaisa” (he admits to backing the Marcoses before) . But what is reconciliation without justice?

Too often, one gets variations of these answers in social media forums, when corrupt officials and clergy are outed:  Don’t judge others lest you be judged; we are all sinners. God will forgive you over and over again, as long as you repent. Translation: you can dip your hand into PDAF repeatedly, as long as you say sorry, or get Monsignor Josefino Ramirez to say Mass in your Magallanes home. Doesn’t this encourage corruption to persist in this country?   Doesn’t it render the justice system ineffective?

In the previous elections, a movement called Catholic Vote Philippines was organized to persuade voters to put into office those it deems consistent with its teachings on contraception and other related issues.

I was amazed when their classification for corruption was  “…it is a temporal, second level problem “, secondary to its “pro-life issues.”  No wonder the Catholic Vote Philippines and the CBCP ended up endorsing corrupt politicians, and all because they voted “no”to the RH bill. What kind of classification is this that bestows legitimacy on corrupt officials?

Prior to the recent elections, I coined the slogan “Di Baleng Corrupt, Basta Kakampi ng Bishop” to highlight the inappropriateness of the Team Buhay/Patay campaign of the hierarchy. Sadly and tearfully, it has become so true.

Just to make it clear, the Catholic church does not teach evil or wrongdoing. But there could be weaknesses in some of its concepts and catechisms.

I want to ask you:  Is Catholicism effective enough in forming consciences to help build a society that is resistant to corruption? If other societies (though mostly non-Catholic) can do it, why can’t we? Is Catholicism the stumbling block to building a corruption-resistant culture?

76 Responses to “Does Catholicism Make Us More Tolerant of Corruption?”
  1. Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

    Kleptocracy in the Philippines is rampant and pervasive. Every seconds of our waking ours money and favors are exchanged. To Filipinos, couple of thousands is not corruption but a gift. Exchanging gifts for favors definitely not corruption Filipinos do that every Christmas. Everyone in the Philippines can be bought with Christmas calendars. Filipinos remember those who did not bring them calendars for the favors they did.

    Glossy expensive calendars means I am important to them. The corporation, owned by a Forbes top 100 richest in Asia, I worked with before only give out these calendars to their most important clients. I have to draw a list to whom it was given to who I believe have helped me facilitate government transactions. Along with calendars is a Christmas basket. Again, imported whiskies go to upper echelons. Locally produced alcohol are to minions. Of course, I also get glossy thick expensive calendars, too! I am important to them.

    Php10,000,000,000.00 IS corruption! This Php10.0B spread over years is not yet until it reaches a certain mark it is considered as one. That is why COA and the Philippine Media waited and waited and waited until the needle crossed the red line! Php10.0B! That must be corruption!

    Why they waited? 10.0B is nothing compared to 100,000.00. Php10.0B is beyond comprehension. That is why it came out just now.

    • Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

      Americans lack personal relationship in God. “OMG!” is just an expression, cool expression but not necessarily equate to belief in God. What makes Americans honest is lack of familial connections and individualism. Filipinos are more groupies kind of people. The strong family ties that bind together. The Family that prays together stays together. This is the glue that covers up corruption.

      • andrew lim says:

        You sure have your unique way of expressing your pts, Mariano.

        But you have hit on a good point here – that concept is called “amoral familism” where the interests of a family supersede that of society- which gives rise to whole families engaged in crime, like Italy’s Mafia, or the crime families in Latin America, or the Marcoses, Arroyos and Estradas here.

        A code of conduct evolves among these families, and they do continue with their religious rites and rituals, even if perverted.

        It is a dark fruit of family-oriented societies.

    • Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

      The impunity of corruption is fanned by Philippine Media, too!!! They are accessory to it so do the staff who sent to the Philippine Media instead to the NBI. And the Philippine Media’s ignorance of their function in the grand scheme of things is bewildering. They just publish away! Now the corruptors are on notice how to cover this up. Take ZTE for example. That chap went straight to the ignorant PHilippine Media which Alan is proud of and the PHilippine Media in dire need of scoop publish it away. Where is the responsibility of the Philippine Media? ZTE has become he-said she-said because NBI did not have the time to tap phones and listen in to their conversation.

      Marami pang kakaining bigas ang mga Filipinos.

    • andrew lim says:

      And in those govt offices where you give your dole outs, there is always a statue of a saint or whatever. Go figure. Somehow it has no effect on behavior.

  2. edgar lores says:

    1. I, too, have often wondered over the same question, although I would rephrase it as, “Is Catholicism contributing to corruption?”

    2. As the saying goes, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. If religion is the source of morality, and the majority of Filipinos are Catholics, and the same majority of Filipinos are immoral, then the worst one can say of Catholicism is that it is immoral. And the best one say is that it is ineffective.

    2.1. There is, there has always been, a close link between the hierarchy of the government and the hierarchy of the Church. Well, perhaps that is an understatement. It might be fairer to say that the Church has been an active player in politics. This is well attested to by the splendid photograph that accompanies this essay: the bishops in resplendent bright-red robes dwarfing the diminutive President in a grubby red shade, the backdrop of the high altar encased in gold dwarfing the image of the crucified Christ. (Does the photo have the makings of a good fairy tale about corruption, “The Dwarf and the 27 Bishops”?)

    3. The truth must lie somewhere in between the extremes of “immoral” and “ineffective”: Catholicism is not evil but it is contributory to evil. In other words, it is a force for good as much as it is a force for evil.

    3.1. The world-wide relief and rapture of Catholics at how Francis is turning out to be offers prima facie proof and admission that much has been wrong with the Church for some time.

    4. The self-criticism of Francis that the Church is too self-referential is interpreted as the Church being too preoccupied with its inner life. My criticism would be that the Church is not introspective enough. It has not clearly analysed and understood that its focus should be on the poor in spirituality and not the poor in possessions. It has not clearly analysed and understood that the use of its power is not to implement social justice (which should be left to the government and the citizens) but to implant spirituality and morality in individual believers. It has not clearly analysed and understood that religiosity in man is not in his observance of church rituals but in his observance of moral behaviour in daily life.

    4.1. A senator goes to mass or even has a mass conducted in his own house and then in the next moment goes to steal the people’s money. Why is there a disconnection between a belief in God and goodness and an act of Mammon and evil? The reason – as the essay points out – is clearly a lack of personal relationship with God. And this lack of personal relationship is aggravated – as the essay points out – by the use of intermediaries. And why is it so easy for the senator to sin? Well – as the essay points out – one can be easily be forgiven and be reconciled with God as soon as one confesses. And if one confesses before one dies, one will go – as the essay points out – to Purgatory which is the waiting room for Heaven. So the senator goes, “Ah-hah! I can steal and be saved! Hallelujah!”

    5. What’s the antonym of “hallelujah”? Alack, alas, aw, boo!

    • Tristanism says:

      “…then the worst one can say of Catholicism is that it is immoral. And the best one say is that it is ineffective.”

      That’s kinda mean, but you had me clapping there. Sharp.

    • 2.1- yes, the Roman Catholic Church (RCC) has been an active player in politics especially in renaissance Italy. In the Philippines, I think politicos had believed in the Catholic vote before Aquino pushed for the RH Bill; hilariously, that belief has been tested and shaken by Pnoy.

      4. The preoccupation with possessions is not exclusively an RCC trait. I find the Protestants more materialistic than the R Catholics; In the Philippines, blessings = material benefits (i.e., money, cars, gadgets, houses, jobs, promotions, scholarships and the like.)

      4.1. Based on Dante’s Inferno, the purgatory is not a comfy lobby in a hotel; one soul will be cleansed there through the most painful and sadistic ways. I’m not implying that Dante’s inferno depicted the “truth”, but there’s another “limbo” version of the purgatory. Anyway, I don’t expect these trapos to be well-read on spiritual literature.

      5. According to wiki, hallelujah is an exhortation to praise addressed to people. IMO, a good antonym is “God doesn’t exist.”

  3. andrew lim says:

    Thanks for the excellent summary of how corruption progresses in 4.1 I am really of the opinion that Catholicism teaches good, means well, but is incredibly ineffective and inept in its cathechism.

    Corona is attending today’s anti-pork barrel rally. Good thing, as Inquirer reports, they booed him.
    The ugliest picture I can think of is Corona and all these right-wing remnants of previous corrupt regimes standing side by side with the bishops.

  4. Tristanism says:

    Very nice article.

    Am not a fan of religion, but I notice that the catholic religion is geared towards fostering a relationship between its members and the church — and then the church does the rest. There’s never a direct connection with God (like you pointed out). I remember the liturgy where a list of padrinos and padrinos are rattled off.

    It’s as if the concept of God for Catholics is just that: a concept; something that only exists in the abstract plane.

    • andrew lim says:

      Thanks. The efforts of clergy like Cardinal Tagle and the Pope himself try to address that- to make the Church alive and not abstract. But unfortunately, not all clergy are like them. Others stick to the “self-referential and theologically narcissistic” mode.

  5. The Mouse says:

    Ireland is Catholic but it isn’t exactly a poor country nor one of the most corrupt

    Other than that, one of the poorest regions in the country is the ARMM where in the province of Maguindanao, the Ampatauans are very rich while their constituents are dirt poor. Probably poorer than the illegal settlers in Manila.

    I think the corruption problem in the Philippines has more to do with the socio-political system than religion. The NPA doctrine is atheism. JoMa even mocks the believers, yet he and his minions are one of the most brutal people in the Philippines.

    A lot of “liberal believers” or “atheist” even vote for the wrong politicians.

    I sort of believe that these kind of socio-political culture started during the Japanese occupation where politicians and influential people would sell their principles and dignity, and interestingly, a lot of politicians today are descendants of Japanese collaborators.

    • andrew lim says:

      Oh, discussions like these do not operate in binary, either-or, mutually exclusive bases.
      It’s not a simplistic “Catholicism=corruption=poverty” to the exclusion of other religions and other factors.

      You may want to re-check your statement on Ireland. Its economy only took off very recently, and for the most part has been the poor cousin of Great Britain. Corruption-wise, you are a bit correct – it is no.25 on the list.

      I find your last paragraph humorous- is morality hereditary?

      • The Mouse says:

        Ah, I guess you have not figured out “political dynasty” in the Philippines. I’m talking more about “family tradition” than “heredity”.

        I never said Ireland was never poor. I said at its current situation, it is not poor especially when compared to the Philippines and we should not forget that Ireland suffered a lot from its “cousin” Britain.

        “It’s not a simplistic “Catholicism=corruption=poverty” to the exclusion of other religions and other factors.”

        I guess we need to check this question:

        “Why is corruption so pervasive in a country where Catholicism is a dominant force”

        If there’s one thing that is very common among economically poor nations that are not under a totalitarian regime is that there is a leftist uprising (Colombia Guatemala, Southern Thailand, etc) , ethnic clashes, secessionists…

        • andrew lim says:

          Just kidding on that heredity thing of course.

          You are veering into ever larger topics – economic devt, poverty, peace and order, which my essay does not cover.

          I concentrated on the contradiction of a dominant and long established religion and a pernicious and pervasive behaviour.

          It’s still a paradox isnt it?

  6. The Mouse says:

    I am not a hardcore Catholic (I don’t even go to mass) but I think the statement that Catholicism does not foster relationship with God is not entirely true. Heard of Summa Theologica by Thomas Aquinas? It is one of the most important doctrines of the Catholic Church. A lot of Catholic literature are about trying to “know” God. It’s just that the Catholic Church is too fussy on preserving tradition (Holy Mass = Last Supper, which is basically Passover, Catholic version). It’s just that the common Catholic just bothers more in perfecting the rituals rather than studying the theology. Catholic theology is strongly Platonian.

    Again, I’m not too much on whether God exists or not but going back to history (as in to the apostles) explains a lot why the Catholic Church has “many rituals”.

    All that being said, I think what happens is otherwise. It is the socio-political situation/culture that influences religion. Kinda like Islam. Why is it that Arab nations are ridiculously more paternalistic than their Southeast Asian counterparts? In Southeast Asia muslim communities, women can be part of politics (Indonesia had its women president while the more protestant US had not had one yet). In Saudi, women can’t even drive.

    • andrew lim says:

      It’s the lack of directness, hampered by the formalities of the hierarchies and intermediaries which I am citing. Contrast that to other religions which emphasize directness. My theory is that the former de-emphasizes personal accountability, which fosters corruption.

      • The Mouse says:

        But lack of directness is very much part of the EAST and Southeast Asian culture. Korea, Japan and China/Taiwan adhere pretty much to indirectness, too. But they are economically better than the Philippines and their societal culture also dictate hierarchy.

        Asian cultures are “high context culture” where indirectness is valued (due to face saving) and body language is very essential and collectivism is highly valued; while Western culture value directness, individuality and frankness

        And these are REGARDLESS of religion.

        • andrew lim says:

          I didnt expect a mouse to ask so difficult questions! 🙂 Kidding aside, the lack of directness I am referring to is with respect to a relationship with God, and not with each other. My theory is that it lessens one’s sense of personal accountability.

          You cite the Japanese and Koreans. We are all familiar with their stories of how officials apologize for errors, bow down, resign and some even take their own lives. They are very accountable for their ways!

          • The Mouse says:

            Well, Japan has not apologized for the wartime atrocities which creates tensions with Korea. To make things worse, the Japanese government is trying to white wash the events. Take for example what happened in Okinawa. The Japanese government want the line that mentions that the Japanese Imperial Army ordered Okinawans to commit suicide.

            One has to play the devils advocate here.

            I do not see how the relationships of EDUCATED Catholics have “less” relationship with God, as you say. While I do not believe in a supernatural being, I have read bits of Catholic theology. If you’re talking about the sacrament of penance, I think the “protestant version” is more giving to excuses because it can foster the mentality that “I can always ask for forgiveness when I dunwrong and he will forgive me”

            I ask the question again:

            Does non-religious culture influence one’s religion or does religion do otherwise?

            It’s a question worth pondering.

          • edgar lores says:

            I would like to put in my two cents on the chicken (local non-religious culture) and the egg (religion). These are very general comments.

            1. If we speak of the great religions, these were “imposed” on the existing culture. So the chicken, so to speak, came before the egg.

            1.1. However it is not correct to describe the then existing culture as “non-religious”. All primitive cultures contained an element of “organic” religion as embodied in the elders of the tribe, or the witch doctors or the shamans.

            1.2. The great religions, and let me just confine my remarks to Islam and Christianity – and perhaps even Communism – were imposed on cultures (a) by the ruler(s) of the day who converted and adopted the new religion or (b) by the Sword from colonizers or (c) the Cross from missionaries.

            1.3. In the process of mass conversion of peoples to the new religion, there occurred a mutual interpenetration of influences. The theology of the new religion penetrated into the local culture and, at the same time, the practices of the local culture penetrated into the new religion. It is said that the great success in the proselytisation of Catholicism was its absorption and transformation of local culture into the rituals and doctrines of the Church.

            2. We see that there are two basic elements in religion. There is the theory, which is the theology, and there is the practice. Because of the interpenetration of culture and religion, the practice in one locale may be different from that in another locale, even though the central theology remains the same.

            2.1. If one looks at Philippine Catholicism, there are distinct features that are not found in other Catholic countries. The celebration of Easter is one week – the Holy Week – whereas other Christian nations just declare Good Friday and Easter Monday as holidays. On this occasion, the Philippines have dramatic recitations (pabasa), processions, and recreations of the suffering of the Christ (flagellations and crucifixions) that are not practiced by Catholics in other nations.

            3. Another thing to understand is that each religion has been divided by major and minor schisms. The two major denominations of Christianity are Catholicism and Protestantism. Within Catholicism, we have the Roman and the Eastern Orthodoxies. Within Protestantism, we have Anglicans, Lutherans, Baptists and a thousand more.

            3.1. As to Islam, there are the two major sects, Shi’a and Sunni, but there are smaller schools like Sufism and Ahmaddiyya. In Saudi Arabia, there is that intolerant form called Wahabism.

            3.2. In Communism, we have Marxism-Leninism, Maoism, Trotskyism, Titoism,the Juche of North Korea, etc.

            3.3. So one religion is not homogenous. It is peculiar to a country and a culture. And in one country, there may be several flavours of the one religion peculiar to a subculture.

            3.2. There is not only conflict of civilizations between the two major religions. There is endless and continuing conflict between and among the denominations and lesser sects.

            4. Another thing to understand is that all religions practice discrimination – by race, color, creed, gender, clothing and any criterion one might name. Again, the direction and degree of discrimination is peculiar to a country and a culture.

            4.1. In both Islam and Christianity, women are discriminated against. But some countries will be less discriminating than others even if these countries practice the “same” religion.

            5. One final note. Corruption is endemic and systemic in the Philippines. Ultimately, behaviour and misbehavior, even though its “cultural”, can be reduced to the individual. Specifically, it can be reduced to the morality of each individual. If this is not granted, then we can throw away the law books, abolish the judiciary and demolish the jails.

            5.1. The morality of a culture and of the individual that compose it is the domain of religion. Religion is the prime teacher of ethics which parents and schools may reinforce. Its moral precepts are codified in law.

            5.2. At times we can see the idiosyncrasies of other cultures, but not our own. This reminds me of the cartoon of two fishes where one is asking, “What is water?” The culture (which includes the religious component) that surrounds us is so “natural” that we are not at times aware of the beneficence and the poison of the air that we breathe.

  7. The Mouse says:

    One question: Are we discussing here the ROMAN/LATIN CATHOLICISM or the ORTHODOX CATHOLICISM? Both are Catholics, the latter one is “older” and “more close original apostolic church” though basically, the two agree on the sacraments and basic core prayers (Nicene Creed/Apostle’s Creed), only strongly disagreeing as regards to “politics” and they kinda differ too in Church aesthetics (with orthodox churches looking more like mosques that “Western” churches) and that the orthodox churches are a PERSECUTED people since most of them live either in commie countries or hostile Arab countries (take for example the Coptic Church in Egypt which is one of the oldest)

    • andrew lim says:

      whatever it is that operates here, the one brought over by the Spanish, the one represented by the CBCP, 🙂

      • The Mouse says:

        Ever heard of the CICM? They operate in the Philippines yet are unlike the CBCP. And yes, they are Catholic.Though, most of them are established in North Luzon.

        Next, how about the liberal Atenean Jesuit priests?

        Are ALL Muslim nations against women (hint: Indonesia already had their women president while overwhelming protestant America has not had yet…and America has many anti-women atheists/non believers — just go to “” and you’ll see people who bash religion in general yet believe that women should be subordinate to men.”

        I’m afraid the answer here is BEYOND religion, but in the non-religious aspects of the society…

        • andrew lim says:

          Nope, not aware of them.

          Oh, I am very much in touch with the likes of Fr Bernas and Fr Tabora.

          My piece focuses on a religion which has been here for a long time, and has a very large voice and footprint in influencing our political/economic lives.

          Undoubtedly, other factors are in play….

          • The Mouse says:

            Not surprised that you are not aware of them. They mainly operate their schools in the North. The CICM is a Belgian Catholic “domination” (Jesuits did originate from the Basques) and are “culturally different” from the CBCP (which is strongly Southern European than Germanic). They don’t meddle with politics, but encourage people to have an opinion.

            Which makes me think of this question: Does non-religious culture influence one’s religious outlook or is it otherwise?

  8. R. Hiro Vaswani says:

    Interesting thesis but blaming the religious institution fails to appreciate that the process of nation building is a messy and long term process. What you see today particularly about the pork barrel issue is being looked at through the wrong lenses. Endemic corruption in government, business are part and parcel of the effects of an underdeveloped societal structure.

    One can only look to history at the introduction of the movable printing press that allowed the publication of the Gutenburg bible in languages other than Latin and Martin Luther’s fight against The Catholic Church’s practice of selling indulgences to the rich that led to the Protestant Reformation In Western Europe…The rich could buy their way to

    The issue of science vs religion came to the fore…The rights of royal entitlement that came from God was rightly junked…. That started a huge cultural revolution that eventually led to bloody conflicts…

    The industrial revolution happened first in Western Europe and spread to the United States…

    Building up institution of the nation state under the representative form of government is messy…

    The political spectrum in the country is still made up of big business (legit and illegitimate) in control of the institutions of the state… Economic power stands at the apex of power relations… Unfortunately only the leftist political blocs are the real opposition…

    Please note that the creation of the broad middle classes came about as a result of the massive failure of big business and big government as in China…

    Mae Zedong and his bunch opened up to the U.S.A. after they were being bullied by their all powerful Soviet allies. Deng then did the rest… The Chinese state decided that it did not matter if the rat was black or white as long it wealth was created…

    Personal income taxes in the Philippines make up only 25% of the annual budget… If 50% of the PDAF is stolen that means that 1% of the budget is stolen by the pork barrel scams. That leaves 98% of the budget in the hands of the executive plus the revenue from GOCC’s which are under the discretionary power of the Office of the President…

    The weakest of the separate but equal co-dependant part of the government, the judiciary, is the primary reason why laws, rules and regulations are abused with wanton abandon.

    Culturally that revolution which could have happened when Marcos was topples was scuttled by both the left and the right, with the right coming upon top bringing with it a new class of power players, those who plunder and criminal elements…

    • The Mouse says:

      Interesting thesis but blaming the religious institution fails to appreciate that the process of nation building is a messy and long term process.

      –> Interesting. I think it is important to note that the Philippines just came about as ONE nation just over a hundred years ago. The US and Western European countries have been struggling for centuries, was united and divided and had messy wars that decimated its population. Two of the biggest world wars started in the old world. Japan and Korea had been a unified nation before Westerners came knocking their doors.

      Take for example “racial equality” in the US. The Civil war did not automatically grant racial equality in the US. It was a long process that accelerated in the post war era and it still is touchy issue in the US

      • R. Hiro Vaswani says:

        Correction to my piece..Personal income taxes make up only 10% plus of the entire budget. I did not realize that the Philippines became one nation a hundred years ago… No need to dwell on that..

    • andrew lim says:

      Thanks for the comprehensive comments. And I agree with most of your re-telling of economic history and politics.

      But for this piece I focused on the sociological factors that affect moral behaviour. Since Catholicism has been here for so long and has been dominant for that time, its impact on morals cannot be ignored.

      On a personal level, I have reflected on this thesis for a long time. I have numerous friends, acquaintances who are very religious, graduates of Catholic schools and are active members of lay Catholic organizations like Couples for Christ, etc. But when they justify corrupt behaviour, support corrupt politicians, it puzzles me no end how they can become so inconsistent. It’s as if there is a dichotomy between their Sunday selves and the rest of the week.

      • The Mouse says:

        Is this not also true for non-Catholics (atheists, muslims, jews, buddhists, shintoist…?) Take for example Karl Marx who mocked religion became the doctrine of some of the world’s most violent regime?

        The chicken and egg question is:

        Does the local non religious culture influence the view on religion or is it otherwise?

        Again, I raise the question of Southeast Asian Muslim countries vs Arab Muslim nations? The largest Muslim country, Indonesia, had its female president while in Saudi Arabia, women are not allowed to drive? Why is it that Protestant Anglo nations are more race conscious than Roman Catholic nations? Why is it that the Cambodian government, for so long, had been violent? Is it because of Buddhism which has long been in the country? Why is the supposedly atheist North Korea a repressive regime? Was Japan’s imperialism due to their religion (where they “regarded” their emperor as god) or was the native religion politicized and militarized?

      • R. Hiro Vaswani says:

        Forget sociology..You need to talk to anthropologists… Culture of patronage and entitlements are qualities of a feudal society.. Look at the contradiction of Thomas Jefferson writing the Declaration of Independence but still keeping his slaves…

        What about the genocide of the indigenous peoples of the America’s.

        The ruling classes here are simply following the former colonizers.The vast majority of Indios are on the margins of society. They are kept pregnant and barefoot both literally and figuratively..

        • andrew lim says:

          “They are kept pregnant and barefoot both literally and figuratively.”

          The imagery is quite jarring. 🙂

          Take into consideration the encomienda system instituted by the Spaniards, apportioning large tracts of land to select Spanish cronies. This was the precursor of today’s landlessness, the need for land reform, rural poverty, and the wide income gap.

          • R. Hiro Vaswani says:

            Technological invention and innovation changed human societies. From the Copernican revolution till today where the world has entered the third tier of the still evolving industrial revolution… First, you had the mechanization of the work-process through the steam engine.This was followed by the second tier, oil, gasoline,steel and steam and electricity all wrapped around financial economics… Macro economics was born..Then off course you have the ongoing digital revolution giving rise to global financial capitalism and revolutions in communication in the hands of individuals..

            The speed and pace of change supercharged since the time of the invention of Guttenburgs movable type printing press.

            Look the Philippines domestically still cannot pay its bills vis a vis the rest of the world..We had to start exporting labor to earn our import bills which supplies for the very few a decent standard of living with servants galore…That is covering our shortfall.. Today we have showrooms fro Proches and Maserrati’s..Soon Rolls Royce…

            Why would the ruling classes want to change this system? The hold captive the political system..

            Whatever little we have of a middle class is totally dependent on the ruling classes. The vast sea of poverty around them are isolated by gated communities…

            You forgot that the Americans institutionalized the old Spanish system by making sure the landowners formed the first Philippine assembly and gave them free trade to ensure their loyalty.. Mineral and agricultural resources from the Philippines for consumer goods…

            Coca-cola, spam and the rest all procured for us by Rustans…

  9. M. says:

    I question your claim that…”I. LACK OF A PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD
    Catholicism is fond of hierarchies and the use of intermediaries, unlike other religions which encourage direct communication with God.” I am a practising Catholic and I have a deep and intimate relationship with God the Father, Jesus His living Son, and the beautiful Holy Spirit. I would encourage you to do more research before making a general claim.

    Do look into some of these links. I believe they will give you a different version of many Catholics who live their faith.

    God bless you!

  10. andrew lim says:


    Then good for you, if your personal relationship leads to behaviour consistent with the faith. But the goal of my essay was not to put forth an observation that will be consistent with 100% of all Catholics out there. For sure, there will be anecdotal exceptions like yours.

    My goal was to find explanations for the corrupt behaviour of so many of our countrymen, many of whom are Catholics, and why is there so much divergence between their faith and their actions.

    Besides, the teaching may be correct, but if it is misunderstood and misinterpreted by some of the laity, then there is a failure of cathecism.

    Id appreciate your views on the other points.

    • Bong says:

      I am a Catholic, raised in a Catholic seminary. I am very vocal against politicians using the church as their “front” for their evil ways and in the same manner vocal against priests and bishops allowing themselves to be used by politicians…. I remember Mayor Sanchez of Calauan, Laguna displaying a statue of the Virgin Mary – and later on only to be convicted of rape…. then there was the issue of some Bishops given pajeros by GMA of which funds were sourced from PCSO, the issue i raised here was – why bishops have the stomach to receive these pajeros knowing that PCSO is an agency providing services to the poor, nakiki-agaw pa sila. Then laterly, the issue of Napoles, priests using one of her houses as retreat house allegedly, then later on used these priests as witnesses for her…. In a lot of instances, our idiot politicians also make the rounds of visiting the Heads of the different sects and religious denominations for their Divine Interventions kuno during electoral exercises… The question now is – Who uses whom? Who perpetuates corruption?

      • andrew lim says:

        You echo much of the frustration of many. It should lead to a re-examination, and that is what we are doing with this essay.

    • M. says:

      I’ve been reflecting on your response and on the correlation you have chosen. You may have a good point in identifying the numerous weaknesses of the past and present politicians, however, I still find it inappropriate to use the Catholic Church in your analogy. To me, it’s similar to realizing that a majority of the people who are corrupt have black hair and so you make the inference that all people with black hair are corrupt. Do you see what I mean?

      I would assume that those in government positions who are corrupt are corrupt not because of what they claim to be in their faith walk, but because of who they are. Perhaps greed and self-centeredness prevail in their lives and they continue to pursue this ideal in their chosen careers. The fact that they claim to be Catholic is just by name rather than practise. As you may know (I’m assuming you are a Christian), Christianity is not a title, but a lifestyle.

      You mention about purgatory and how these so called “Catholics” are choosing to use it to give them a chance to “get away” with the dirt they are engaged in now. Have you not heard that we are all called to walk through the narrow gate? Do you think these so called “Catholics” know what they are getting themselves into? They may think they can get away with things, but God sees what they are doing. They may think they can deceive God, but God sees the motives of man.

      It is sad that many who are not walking in their Catholic faith continue to claim they are Catholics. Claiming a “title” or “identity” for oneself doesn’t have power in itself. It then just becomes a name. Little do they know they are deceiving themselves and others. These name claimers are the very ones who destroy the purity of the Catholic faith.

      I would suggest that you focus on the core source of the corruption rather than blaming it on the religion which some claim to follow.

      God bless you Andrew!

      • andrew lim says:

        Thanks for taking time to write a thoughful reply. I totally understand your points; it’s just so frustrating to see so much corruption and so much religiosity co-exist simultaneously here.

        If the doctrines are correct, but the laity keeps on misinterpreting it, or chooses not to follow it, then to me, it is an indication of the ineffectiveness of the teaching. Some form of “personal scorecard” need to be implemented by the hierarchy to assess their effectiveness in teaching.

        • M. says:

          Hi Andrew, I’m glad you’re beginning to see things a tad differently. Thought I should mention that those thoughts came through as a result of fervent prayer and by asking the Holy Spirit for wisdom and guidance. As I continue to pray and reflect on your recent answer, I sense there are a few more things to add.

          God has given man free will. He will not force anything on anyone, regardless of how wrong they are. He will send distractions and people to try to convince the wrong doers of their errs, but man is still left to exercise his free will. I do not believe it is the Church’s onus to force a “personal scorecard” on individuals, but it is personal conviction that is necessary so that each person holds himself/herself accountable for his/her actions.

          Solutions do not rise when we put blame on others. Instead. the latter merely brings other subject matters into the discussion, and the focus on the original problem is lost. I believe this was the point you brought up in your first reply.

          Unfortunately, the title you chose for your thesis has stirred up resentment in others who don’t truly understand why they have a great dislike towards the Catholic Church. They may not read your article, but the title, in itself, was sufficient to fan the flame of their anger.

          You may have become a little wiser because you have an open mind and you were willing to “listen”, but what about those who have hated the Church just because they heard others mutter against it. Their hatred grows.

          Hatred and anger isn’t the solution. Openness and being willing to grasp truths rather than believing in “hearsay spread by others who claim to know the truth” brings about resolution.

          While on the cross, Jesus asked the Father to forgive his tormentors and he, himself, had claimed that they did not know what they were doing. I believe his tormentors thought they knew what they were doing, but Jesus, being God, saw the bigger picture. Likewise, we, too, need to forgive the individuals who have chosen to govern corruptly. However, it doesn’t end there. We are then asked to intercede and pray for those who govern so that they will be led by God’s wisdom and discernment. Man can’t accomplish much, but God can.

          Let us join force and ask others to come together to pray for the healing of the land and its people. Let us pray for ourselves and ask God to allow us to make a difference. It can’t start elsewhere, it has to start with us. Let us ask God to give us the grace to rebuke and renounce greed and corruption and let us ask Him to heal the land.

          I am reminded of the scripture…”if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.: 2 Chronicles 7:14.

          The Filipino people cannot do it on their own, but with God, miracles will happen!

          God bless you Andrew!

          • andrew lim says:

            I cant disagree with anything you said, except that in my view, it leads to nowhere, except on an individual basis. It’s like that aphorism ” Change should come from each one of us” which is arguably correct and well-meaning, but it just leads to more of the status quo.

            I am not sarcastic when I say this, but this was the same refrain during Marcos’ time, Erap’s time and Gloria’s time! And up to now it is still the same!

            I am in the business of “getting things done”. I would like to see tangible, measurable, discrete activities, not just well-intentioned teachings of the hierarchy. And I think my frustration is shared by many.

            For instance, are there parallel investigations within the Church on Monsignor Josefino Ramirez, Fr Peter Lavin et al? What has happened to the case of Monsignor Garcia of Cebu who was involved in ivory smuggling? Where are the reports on them and decisive actions taken? Why is there always a reshuffling and a cover-up?

            At least Pope Francis has taken steps to signal that in his term, it would be different. Things would move, and it is reasonable to expect it will happen in this lifetime.

            PS I appreciate our conversation very much. I have this inkling that you are not just a lay person. 🙂

      • edgar lores says:

        Another of my two cents to M’s post.

        Psychology has uncovered patterns of behaviour and thought which men rely on to protect ego. These patterns are called “defence mechanisms”. It is interesting to analyse the above post by the mechanisms used:

        1. “I’ve been reflecting on your response and on the correlation you have chosen. You may have a good point in identifying the numerous weaknesses of the past and present politicians, however, I still find it inappropriate to use the Catholic Church in your analogy. To me, it’s similar to realizing that a majority of the people who are corrupt have black hair and so you make the inference that all people with black hair are corrupt. Do you see what I mean?”

        1.1. In the defence mechanism of Intellectualisation a “person may discuss his problem(s) in an analytical, rational, intellectual way”.

        1.2. The intellectualisation here is by use of an analogy. The analogy compares Andrew’s essay as being equivalent to the observance that “a majority of the people who are corrupt have black hair” which purportedly leads to the “rational” inference “that all people with black hair are corrupt.”

        1.3. The introduction to this analogy states, “I still find it inappropriate to use the Catholic Church in your analogy”.

        1.4. In the first place, Andrew is not making an analogy. An analogy is a comparison. Andrew is not making a comparison. He is presenting a thesis which uses correlations.

        1.5. In the second place, Andrew is making a reasoned thesis. He presents 4 correlations to support his thesis. To compare Andrew’s essay to the analogy of “people with black hair” is illogical because @M does not present any correlational reason, a cause-and-effect, between black hair and corruption.

        2. “I would assume that those in government positions who are corrupt are corrupt not because of what they claim to be in their faith walk, but because of who they are. Perhaps greed and self-centeredness prevail in their lives and they continue to pursue this ideal in their chosen careers. The fact that they claim to be Catholic is just by name rather than practise. As you may know (I’m assuming you are a Christian), Christianity is not a title, but a lifestyle.”

        2.1. There are two defence mechanisms here: Rationalisation and Denial.

        2.2. Rationalisation involves “explaining an unacceptable behaviour or feeling in a rational or logical manner, avoiding the true reasons for the behaviour”. The rationalisation here is in the observation that people “who are corrupt are corrupt not because of what they claim to be in their faith walk, but because of who they are.” Specifically, the rationalisation is that the explanation for corrupt behaviour is the very nature of people, in “who they are”. This is not an illumination explanation.

        2.3. Denial is the refusal to admit or recognize that something has occurred or is currently occurring. The subtlety of the denial here lies in the use of the word “claim”, and the denial is that “people who ‘claim’ to be something” are NOT that something.

        2.4. If one extends this logic to its fullest absurd conclusion, one would be able to say that no one is a true Catholic because all “Catholics” have sinned (even if only by Original Sin).

        2.5. It is interesting to note that this schizoid logic allows the Church to say, “Love the sinner, hate the sin”. The sinner is the sin, and if I claim to be a Catholic, I am a Catholic.

        2.6. One cannot resist the temptation to ask, “When did greed and self-centeredness become ideals?”

        3. “You mention about purgatory and how these so called “Catholics” are choosing to use it to give them a chance to “get away” with the dirt they are engaged in now. Have you not heard that we are all called to walk through the narrow gate? Do you think these so called “Catholics” know what they are getting themselves into? They may think they can get away with things, but God sees what they are doing. They may think they can deceive God, but God sees the motives of man.”

        3.1. No defence mechanism here. At last — at long last! — we have an attempt to present a counter argument against Andrew’s Purgatory reason. @M contends that so called “Catholics” cannot get away with things because “God sees the motives of man”.

        3.2. The counter argument does not stand. Andrew does not contend that God is blind. Andrew’s contention is that wayward Catholics think they can get away with things because they believe they can repent at their final hour — (and perhaps repent periodically thru confession?) — and still be a shoo-in candidate for Purgatory.

        4. “It is sad that many who are not walking in their Catholic faith continue to claim they are Catholics. Claiming a “title” or “identity” for oneself doesn’t have power in itself. It then just becomes a name. Little do they know they are deceiving themselves and others. These name claimers are the very ones who destroy the purity of the Catholic faith.”

        4.1. This is just a repeat and an extension of the second paragraph’s rationalisation and denial.

        5. “I would suggest that you focus on the core source of the corruption rather than blaming it on the religion which some claim to follow.”

        5.1. This begs the question: What is the core source of corruption? Is it because men are essentially “who they are”? If that is so, there is no hope for the country unless all men are wiped out and the dinosaurs return.

        6. “God bless you Andrew!”

        6.1. Ah, the usual patronising “adios”. Or is it? Could it be deflection through humor? Or displacement of hostility with civility?

        • edgar lores says:

          Correction: that’s “illuminating explanation” not “illumination explanation”.

        • M. says:

          Thank you for your interesting reply Edgar and may God’s peace be with you. I’ve never had another analyse what I have written and I am impressed by the effort taken!

          By the way, my offering of God’s peace to you is not intended to patronize you, but it is a sincere extension of God’s peace.

          Scripture says… ““When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ If someone who promotes peace is there, your peace will rest on them; if not, it will return to you.” Luke 10:5-6

          You say I am in denial, I know I’m not, but that’s a choice you make. Each of us chooses the manner in which we see the world. You write… “2.3. Denial is the refusal to admit or recognize that something has occurred or is currently occurring. ” Are you insisting that I fail to see the corruption that is and has been going on in the Philippines? I beg to differ. My choice of words may not be to your liking, but I do see and have experienced the effects of the corruption.

          I’d like to address your point 2.4 ” If one extends this logic to its fullest absurd conclusion, one would be able to say that no one is a true Catholic because all “Catholics” have sinned (even if only by Original Sin).” ALL Catholics, who, by the way, are also Christians, are sinners. Romans 3:23 teaches…”for ALL (Christians or not) have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” And yet, we have been given the grace … “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9 Do note there is a cause and effect relationship here. Man has to do his part…CONFESS OUR SINS. I believe this involves true repentance. True repentance requires “expressing a sincere regret or remorse about one’s wrong doing or sin”. It also requires one to turn his/her back towards sin. Hence, if man does not do his part, God won’t and can’t do his.

          It is in every human being’s nature to sin. It is for that reason why Jesus came down from Heaven to be the atonement of our sins. He took upon himself all the sins of the world (past, present and future) so that we could be reunited with God the Father. His death would have been the victory of his enemies and the devil, but the Father had sent the Holy Spirit into Jesus’ dead body and in 3 days, he rose again and destroyed death forever for those who believe in Him. God turned what was intended for evil and destruction, into the saving grace for all!

          The following link gives a decent discussion on man’s inherent nature. I would like to stress the following and hence I quote…” Mankind is described as being made in the image of God (Gen. 1:26-27; 9:6; 1 Cor. 11:7). The Bible says that men are “made after the similitude of God” (Jas. 3:9), even after the fall of Adam. That is why when it comes to sin, the Bible says that sin is actually contrary to human nature (Rom. 1:26-27). God wanted mankind to imitate Him in choosing holiness (Lev. 11:44-45; 19:2; 20:26; Matt. 5:48; 1 Pet. 1:16). God did not design us to live wickedly. Therefore, sin is an abuse and misuse of our created constitution.

          God did not intend or plan for us to use our mental, moral, spiritual, or physical abilities for sin. That is why the Bible says that sin is “against nature.” Sinners choose to do “that which is against nature.” Through the freedom of their will, they choose to do what is contrary to their design. It was never God’s intention for man to sin. It was not His plan for mankind to be sinful (Gen. 6:5-6; Matt. 25:41; Eph. 1:4; 1 Thes. 4:3). God actually would have preferred a sinless universe that needed no atonement at all (1 Sam. 15:22). Since sin was contrary to God’s plan or intention for mankind, God has made sin contrary to the design of our constitution.

          God never intended for us to use our constitution for sin. On the contrary, He wants us to use our members for righteousness (Rom. 6:13, 19; Rom.12:1; 1 Thes. 4:3-4). Paul said, “For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour” (1 Thes. 4:3-4). Our constitution was not designed for sin, but sin is contrary to the intended use of our nature, because God is our designer.”

          I hope this provides you with a satisfactory response. God bless you Edgar! Just as with His peace, you can either accept or reject God’s blessings.

          p.s. – Andrew, don’t under estimate what God can do. And yes, I am just a lay person and I AM CATHOLIC! E-mail me if you want to dialogue further.

  11. airvengeance says:

    — I think most Catholics do have a personal relationship with God but don’t you think that having a PERSONal relationship with God is the problem? Imagine having a personal relationship with your parent, now do the same with God. What you have is a relationship between equals not between a lesser and a superior being.

    — Even before the Spaniards came our natives were not monotheistic, they also had spirits for every flora and fauna. The reason the Padrino system exist is because it is convenient and profitable no attachment to religion is required to explain the phenomenon.

    “All who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven.” (paragraphs 1030-1032 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.) — Church calls the place purgatory

    I would interpret purgatory then as a place where you wash your shoe in a disinfectant when arriving at an airport.

    The point i’m trying to arrive at is that there is a misconception as to how purgatory works and this is not absent with the author of the essay.

    — Jesus thought us to forgive those who sinned against us (this is actually the easy part), but how God will forgive us is another matter (this is the hard part because you don’t actually know if God has already forgiven you).
    — I think there was no lack of search for justice after the marshal law era, the problem was how much justice we actually obtained and whether it was enough.
    — THE BASTARDIZATION OF “DONT JUDGE OTHERS” is called “due process” now i think i’m fine with due process.

    “Just to make it clear, the Catholic church does not teach evil or wrongdoing. But there could be weaknesses in some of its concepts and catechisms.”

    I agree with the first premise. The weakness is in the man it is that weakness which actually fails his religion.

    • andrew lim says:

      Thanks for the fine comments.You exhibit a substantial understanding of Catholicism.

      Ill leave most of your comments as is as they are opinions deeply held, and are based on faith. Questioning them will result in an endless loop.

      Ill just answer some of the questions you raised:

      1. My proposition is that the use of intermediaries and hierarchies depersonalizes it, and possibly leads to a lessened sense of personal accountability. In your definition of “personal” I think you mean being too friendly, or too close, with the consequent loss of respect/authority. In mine, it means a closeness wherein you have so much respect, you cannot think of violating His trust and confidence in you.

      2. Hmmm. Im curious about that- did the natives ask favors from the spirits of flora and fauna? if yes, did the conversion transfer the concept of asking favors from spirits to saints?

      3. I want to learn more about that concept of purgatory – though this could lengthen the discussion- can Janet Napoles avail of the services of purgatory? Or is she beyond that?

      Lastly, on your comment, ” The weakness is in the man. It is that weakness which actually fails his religion.” Though I expected this statement, it worries me that it could lead to what Pope Francis has warned about: a self-referential and theologically narcissist church. Where even things outside the Magisterium become immovable (like traditions), since it is man who is always at fault, not the religion.

      • airvengeance says:

        1. your definition of “personal” i think is concerned with the end (what you expect of the relationship) not the means (how you attain that relationship). i chose my definition because the premise of your thesis is based on the effect of the means.

        2. people have been asking favors from the supernatural whether for rain or better harvest i would not conclude though that the same concept may be applied to saints because i think it was implemented merely to appease the natives need to ask a particular “entity” for what they want

        3. according to the quote you actually have to be qualified to enter heaven according to God first before you can enter purgatory – think of purgatory as a cloakroom during a ball you first need an invitation to enter but you have to deposit your coat first – it is up to God whether Janet can enter heaven

        i think of the religion and any other ethical concepts as guideposts. whether you prefer a swaying post or not is up to you. personally i prefer the latter.

        • andrew lim says:

          thanks for pt. no 3. My initial analogy of purgatory as misinterpreted by others is it’s like a washing machine with a quick rinse cycle.

  12. cyrus says:


  13. it’s time to prepare for the coming….

  14. J says:

    Interesting. But Ireland is also a devout Catholic country. Do they have problems like the Philippines and Latin America do?

    • andrew lim says:

      Hi J,

      My theses explored the possible causal links of some concepts or doctrines of Catholicism and the pervasiveness of corruption. But I take caution in reducing it into an equation like if it’s a Catholic dominated country, then automatically it will be corruption infested and poor.

      Just like in observing natural phenomena, one looks for general patterns, but accepts exceptions. What is striking are the similarities of the Phils and the Latin American experiences, even in the broader areas of politics: right wing dictatorships, massive corruption, a leftist movement, wide income gaps, etc.

      For sure, other factors are in play, e.g. economic devt path, levels of education, population, etc.

      Re corruption levels in Ireland:

      Economic devt in Ireland is a fairly recent phenomenon, late 1990s to early 00s.

      Joe’s latest piece, “It Isnt Easy When Culture Supports Corruption” is out. Depending on one’s persuasions, it is either complementary to this one, or an alternative to it. I submit that religion is a big determinant of a people’s culture.

      • J says:

        Aye, Andrew 🙂

        I agree religion has an effect. Perhaps it exacerbates conditions that make corruption thrive. I still agree with Acemoglu, it’s the institutions, handed down by the Spaniards, that’s mainly to blame.

      • edgar lores says:

        J and Andrew,

        I looked into corruption in Ireland and found two significant findings.

        1. Although it is ranked 25th out of 176 countries in Transparency International’s 2012 corruption index, Ireland has worse than the average for Western Europe. According to Wikipedia, before 1995 “political corruption was at its worst with many politicians suspected of corruption”.

        2. The country has a chequered political history in religion with Protestantism being dominant for a century and Catholic rights suppressed by British rule for another century.

        2.1. Celtic Christianity gained ascendance over polytheism at the end of the 6th century.

        2.2. Ireland was a vassal state of the English Crown from the beginning of the late 12th century. The English Reformation, which occurred in the 16th century and which saw England reject papal authority, failed in Ireland.

        2.3. As a consequence of this failure, England implemented a policy of plantation, migrating Protestant settlers to displace Catholic landholders.

        2.4. The Catholic majority in the Irish Parliament was overthrown in 1613 and the Protestants were ascendant for 110 years between 1691 and 1801.

        2.5. In 1801, the Irish Parliament was abolished and Ireland became a part of Great Britain for more than a century until 1922. In the early years of British rule, a religious test was imposed whereby Catholics and nonconformists to the Established Church of England (Anglicanism) were not eligible for public employment.

        2.6. After gaining independence in 1922, Ireland was racked by civil war based on which strategy follow to achieve a united Ireland. The war saw the birth of the two major political parties, one of which, the Fiannal Fail, has been in power for much of last century up to the present.

        2.7. There was a counter migration of Protestants after independence was achieved. The powerful influence of the Church saw the imposition of very conservative social policies (contraception, abortion, divorce, pornography and censorship). The 1907 decree of the Church, Ne Temere, whereby the children of mixed marriages had to be brought up as Catholics, was also applied in 1950. (Can you imagine the power and arrogance of the Church to have given thought to issuing such a decree?)

        2.8. In the late 1990s, Ireland enjoyed economic growth with investment from the European Community. Since then divorce has been legalized, homosexuality decriminalized, and this year abortion has been allowed in limited cases. Lately also, major sex scandals in the Church has seen widespread decline in religious practice and church attendance.

        3. So the history of Irish Catholicism is different from Philippine Catholicism which has been the dominant religion for four centuries. Another factor to consider is that Irish Catholicism was not imposed by colonizing Spain or Portugal.

        3.1. It has been observed that Britain was the best colonizer, bringing in law, order, organization and civilization to the natives.

        • andrew lim says:

          Edgar, your stamina in digging things up is incredible. Tnx for this. Ive seen a study that uses econometrics that correlates corruption with various religions.

          • edgar lores says:

            Stamina? Just naturally curious.

            I forget to mention that while I was digging, I had at the back of my mind, the idea that St. Patrick was largely responsible for the absorption and shaping of Catholicism into Irish culture. To the extent that Catholicism and nationalism are fused in Irish minds.

            I also found this gem when googling the difference between Roman and Irish Catholicism:

            “There is a huge difference between Roman and Irish Catholicism. A true Irish Catholic must not just confess, but earn his way back into God’s graces, not by prayer or fasting, but through his actions. That is how a real Irish Catholic repents. But first and foremost, don’t commit the sin to begin with, and I know that’s not how things are in an imperfect world, but I’ve witnessed Roman Catholics actually state “It’s ok if we do this–as long as we ask for forgiveness we will be forgiven”!! The Irish Men I know would be appalled at that statement as am I. Karma is for real, and the Lord pays attention!!”


  15. JM says:

    I believe in God but I wouldn’t call myself a catholic. I am sort of a deist I guess. I was a catholic before, being born in a catholic family, but I find a lot of teachings and practices illogical so I switched religion. My relationship with God is personal and does not adhere to “rules” dictated by others.

    To answer the question, I think its more of the people running the church and not the religion itself. The way words in the bible are interpreted and how the church leads the people of this country reflects this. People might think that these two are the same, like the way people think that God and religion is one, while related, the two are different.

    As for culture, while I agree that religion affects the culture of the people, culture affects the people who govern the church as well. That is one of the reasons why different countries have different results (i.e. – conversion through colonization –).

  16. taira says:

    True. Corruption in the Philippines will never disappear unless the Catholic Church disciplines itsels and its own parishoners. They should emphasize INDIVIDUAL RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD ALONE instead of teaching invented dogmas and indirect intercessions with the human saints and to Mary. By having a personal relationship with God, you will develop a clear conscience and a concept of right and wrong, justice, and individualism. Unfortunately, the Church has done nothing to help its parishoners enlighten; instead, it only sought to just convert people nominally, and in order to obtain salvation, you just have to follow their dogma, do sacraments, and do only good works through donation and pilgrimages without really developing a personal relationship with God. That is relatively easy to do. Even a high-profile drug lord can be a good Catholic by attending Sunday masses, following all sacraments, and giving huge amounts of donations to the Church; hence, he has already obtained salvation! Therefore, Catholics have never developed enough discipline, thus becoming self-righteous in his own way, without a clear conscience. Corruption becomes tolerable because they believe God will forgive them anyway through the intercession of the saints and with the help of the priest.

    Another thing that makes Catholic countries corrupt is that the Church ALWAYS acts as a SUPREME POLITICAL LEADER to its host country and it teaches politicians down to the masses that only the Catholic Church is right. And it’s also easy to be their ally. Just donate huge amounts of money, no matter if it is from illegal means; and follow their dogma; and poof! Dysfunctional society, where only the rich and powerful are with advantages. But do not argue with them, or you will be accused of heresy. Even if they ‘modernize,’ they still are against science, technology, humanism, and secularism because they will lose power and money. So, they still inflict power over the state and allow society to be chaotic so that all will bow to them. What should be done is to lessen or better to remove their power by enlightened people (just like what the French did) or stick their teachings CLOSER to the original Christian teaching (if it is possible).

    Disclaimer: I’m not saying that all Catholics are like that. What I’m commenting here is only my opinion on how the Church contributes to societal corruption. I’m a non-practicing catholic who is concerned of my church’s tolerance of corruption.

    • Joe America says:

      Very nice statement, taira. I do believe Pope Francis “gets it” and is having a profound change on the Church. It would appear that the local political priests have a mental block about what he is saying. The matter of accountability is so simple. Why can’t they get it? Are they afraid?

      • REBEL says:

        Takot? its not fear cause that church have a much worse case/history of corruption than us. they tolerate it cause in the first place they dont have to really influence how this nation is runned but sometimes they middled around to protect their stronghold in this part of the world for power & control to make it simple. cause actually no one really knows how their institution really work, on how the fuck they became so rich and where the fuck do they need all that money for, on why they so are many homo’s and pedos their why? because people like them joined cause they knew someone will cover up for them so they could continue on doing that immoral shit! taira is right but we shouldn’t not just lessen their power we should completely remove it for the better because i dont see hope on religion who forsake their own people.death to organized religion!

    • Joe America says:

      Very nice statement, taira. I do believe Pope Francis “gets it” and is working on Church accountability and kindness. It would appear that the Philippine political priests have a mental block about what he is saying. The matter of accountability is so simple. Why can’t they get it? Are they afraid they would have to . . . what, discipline themselves? Say they’ve been wrong? Lose their congregation if they don’t keep it morally oppressed? What?

      • taira says:

        Thank you for appreciating my comment. Yes, Filipino priests do have a mental block. I think they’re more concerned with their own agenda more than the welfare of the Filipino.

  17. REBEL says:

    i believe catholicism doesn’t really play a big part on why this country is twisted as shit maybe by a small fraction only. the roots of our corruptions runs through the most basic unit of human society and that is the family the source of our dysfunction, cause most this fucked-up politicians came from families that have run this country long before i was born then you couple it with greedy capitalist,the chaebol types(family runned business) that abused the working class, bribe politician to bend the law to gain special favor for their greed and the most,you my fellow filipinos who do nothing for you falsely believe you are free, if you are then try to go anywhere here without money,what will happen? you know i don’t hold on to my faith i hold on to my humanity its not a question about because god will forgive me so its okay to do it, its about basic human behavior of caring for one another and sadly we filipinos have lost it, we care about having a good education so we can have a good life a stable job,have a nice home, a car ,a rich family you know a life without worries but the reality is when you look around someting is not just right and i feel that everyday, try looking around then you will find out….

    • Joe America says:

      Institutions ebb and flow, with history and the people who lead them. Today’s people ought not be held responsible for yesterday’s deeds, and for sure I don’t see Pope Francis leading a crusade across the world slaughtering non-believers. I frankly dislike . . . or maybe distrust is the better word . . . organized religions, too, because they are of man, interpreting and sometimes using their God. But man is often good, and their fates bring such men and women to the organization, so I wish them well.

      I do look around me. I’m surprised you don’t recognize that, or maybe you haven’t read enough blogs here. Kindly read on. And don’t let anger consume you, eh? Life’s too short, and it is not always smooth.

  18. This would be my answer from a Protestant perspective. It’s counter-intuitive, but it’s the logic of Scripture.

    The difference is the gospel and the affect it has on society. The main difference between Protestants and Roman Catholicism is the view of works in justification (being declared righteous before God). Roman Catholicism has the view of faith + works, while Protestants historically believe in faith alone.

    Adding your performance into the mix creates death in the soul. Forgiveness based on grace alone brings life. Our natural mind thinks that fear of hell and poor performance will create people who want to live well. It doesn’t. Free forgiveness does.

    5 For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. 6 But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code. Romans 7:5-6

    Now, I’m not under any illusion that Protestant countries were 100% filled with genuine believers. But I do think that there were enough of them at one point in time in the past that it shaped the culture of those who are in it, even non-Protestants. So Catholics in Protestant-orginally America will have low levels of corruption compared to Italy.

    • edgar lores says:


      That makes sense. Catholics often use good deeds — e.g., donation to charity — to justify bad deeds — e.g., corruption. Somewhere in there is the notion that a place in heaven can be bought.

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