An open letter to Pope Francis on his visit to the Philippines in 2015

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Dear Pope Francis,

Information about your visit to the Philippines has been occupying the country’s local media for months. Members of the national and local government have been busy preparing for your arrival. The Manila City Mayor Joseph “Erap” Estrada recently declared a four-day holiday for Manila residence during your visit. The decision, he said is to ensure your security while you go around the Catholic landmarks in the city. He did not mention that the holidays would ensure that you and your entourage would not have to experience the horrendous traffic on Manila roads normally experienced by locals and less important visitors in the country.

Pope Francis's visit to the Philippines is much-anticipated.
Pope Francis’s visit to the Philippines is much-anticipated.
As millions of Filipino Catholic devotees anticipate your arrival, I for one am glad you have decided to visit the Philippines but for a slightly different reason. As to be expected, any visit by a very important person such as yourself will attract international attention. Members of the international media will surely broadcast your every move in the Philippines to the rest of the world. This is a good opportunity as I believe that one of the fastest ways to fix the country’s problems is to expose and shame corrupt public servants to the world.

That is why the thought of international media organizations such as CNN covering your visit is great news. The last time CNN covered the Philippines was during the height of super typhoon Haiyan or Yolanda in 2013. They highlighted the incompetence and corruption in government even under the leadership of President Benigno Simeon (BS) Aquino 3rd. Members of the President’s own cabinet showed that politics takes priority over the welfare of the survivors of the typhoon. Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas was caught on video allegedly reminding Tacloban City Mayor Alfred Romuladez about the family feud between the Romualdezes and Aquinos prior to giving his full support at the height of the rescue operation.

The devastation left by Typhoon Haiyan was enormous.
The devastation left by Typhoon Haiyan was enormous.
Apart from clearing Manila roads of motorists and commuters during your visit, preparation in Tacloban City, which was the hardest hit by the typhoon in the Visaya region, is also in full swing. A news report says that the widening of the road where your vehicle is likely to travel was done. This is short of a miracle considering construction of roads in the country takes years to finish specially in remote provinces.

Four lanes instead of the usual two were constructed in expectation of the influx of visitors into the city. The report didn’t mention how many houses were removed and how many people were displaced — as houses in Manila are quite often built too near the roads — to give way for the new roads for your short visit. Sadly, some historic structures built in the 1920s were reported to be at risk of being removed as well:

Only recently, Palo homeowners said they, too, face displacement because of the papal visit after the Department of Public Works and Highways began demolishing houses and other structures along the highway leading to the seat of the archdiocese to make way for a road-widening project.

Among the structures in danger of being torn down are the Almadro family ancestral home, built in 1924, and the Palo Public Library, which is located in a 200-year-old house that is one of the oldest “bahay na bato” in the town and which the National Historical Commission of the Philippines has acknowledged as an “Important Cultural Property.”

Presumably, other less important roads where your vehicle will not pass through were left out of the upgrade. That can be seen as good news for locals whose houses weren’t demolished and bad news for those who missed out on the upgrade. Either way, most locals expect mediocre work from their public servants most of the time. Public servants are not known to care about whether or not they demolish a piece of the city’s history as they initiate their ill thought out plans. They just care about looking good to foreign dignitaries.

Survivors are being asked to relocate to make way for the Pope's visit.
Survivors are being asked to relocate to make way for the Pope’s visit.
Other beautification projects in Tacloban City include removing what they consider eyesores. Some 254 residents displaced by the super Typhoon have complained in October that they were being forced to relocate from their temporary bunkhouses to another temporary shelter, which they said would be far from their livelihood and their children’s schools. I’m sure your eminence wouldn’t want the lives of the survivors to be inconvenienced yet again just for your short visit. Their lives have already been disrupted enough as a result of the devastation brought about by the typhoon.

The point here is, since the most important highlight of your itinerary in the Philippines is your visit to Tacloban City to meet the survivors and to see first hand the devastation of the typhoon, relocating the survivors now would make your visit pointless since it would be equivalent to hiding their real conditions. A lot of Filipinos have noticed that it seems all this effort to beautify and prepare key areas where you will likely go is simply motivated by your visit alone and to prove that the government hasn’t been neglecting the survivors.

Of course the infrastructure upgrade will benefit the locals in the long-term but, after your visit, the focus will turn to something more trivial like political bickering in the capital Manila. Even Philippine Senator Francis Escudero was wondering where the 137 billion pesos allocated for the rehabilitation program for Yolanda-hit areas went because he doesn’t see and feel the improvements in the worst-hit parts of the region. Despite that, President BS Aquino’s budget secretary still wants 9.5 billion pesos allocated in the 2015 budget for the Yolanda rehabilitation program.

It’s bad enough that rehabilitation program is moving along slowly even with a VIP coming to the Philippines. What more if there were no one visiting? The public servants and the members of the public themselves will likely forget about the typhoon victims after the cameras have gone. If you visit other parts of the Philippines that were devastated by natural disasters that received less media attention or none at all, you will see this sort of routine neglect. They are neglected because the international community was not aware of the disaster. This is proof that Filipino public servants are mostly motivated by their need to show-off.

I do hope that during your visit, you can remind Filipinos that praying is not enough. A lot of Filipinos mistakenly believe that if only every Filipino prayed hard enough, the country will progress. If you can just reiterate the motto that “God helps those who help themselves”, that would certainly help. Maybe, just maybe, it could motivate a lot of Filipinos to take the initiative to do something to uplift their status in life and not just wait for government dole outs.

You might find this upsetting but there are a lot of Filipinos who appear to be religious but they are not really spiritual. They go to church every Sunday not because they feel a personal connection to God; they only go because they want to be seen as religious by others. Some go to church because they think it will save them from going to hell. Their behavior towards their fellowman after attending the holy mass is completely appalling and “evil”.

During your visit, Filipino politicians will also fight for the opportunity to kiss your hand and get your blessings. Do not be fooled by their meek appearance. Some of them have pocketed millions in taxpayers’ funds through scams disguised as priority assistance projects supposedly to help the disadvantaged members of the community. The records show that incumbent President BS Aquino has given the highest amount of pork barrel to public servants and his government has yet to account for it. He and his supporters keep saying he is not corrupt because there is no evidence he has pocketed funds himself but it seems he uses public funds to buy the favors of congressmen who have the power both to impeach him and to pass his pet policies.

I am sure you are aware that politicians all over the world use their charm to appear sympathetic to the needs of the poor. But here in the Philippines, politicians are in a league of their own. They don’t seem to have any conscience. The suffering of their compatriots do not bother them as they continue to loot the national coffers. Some say their behavior is a reflection of Philippine society. After all, Filipino voters put them in office.

Having said all this, I am sure you will enjoy your trip to the Philippines. Filipinos are known for their hospitality and for making sure their visitors have a grand time.

Have a safe trip.

[Photo of Tacloban devastation courtesy GMA News and The Times UK.]
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78 Comments on “An open letter to Pope Francis on his visit to the Philippines in 2015”

  1. Amen to your letter Ilda, I wish Il Papa would really read this one! And I hope he criticizes and exposes this government for the thieving, lying charlatans that they are!

  2. Well said but I don’t believe the pope gives a damn about the problems here. All he will do is pray like most of the folks over here do.

  3. “What more if there were no one visiting? The public servants and the members of the public themselves will likely forget about the typhoon victims after the cameras have gone.”

    It’s clear imo at least both the media and politics unconsciously have ADHD, and it will take a powerful voice to grab their attention. Pope Francis’ visit better be a huge wake up call, but then again hypocrisy among the politicos will flourish once he’s gone.

        1. @Blue
          That’s the thing with secularists. Your religions are worth shit to us.
          It’s called free will. And no one gave humans the right to impose (beliefs) radical superstitions on other people by force. It may not surprise you but my freedom is more important to me than your beliefs.

    1. The Pope is the head of state of Vatican City, a sovereign country, hence he’s addressed by the title to him as the head of Vatican city. It’s the same courtesy given to any head of state.

    2. When you talk about him you call him the Pope, because if you call him Jorge Mario Bergoglio, no one knows who you talk about.

      As in the saying: Is Jorge Mario Bergoglio a virgin? ??? FAIL!

      1. What Robert might be getting at (or might not) is that in countries without a Catholic majority, the Pope isn’t always referred to in the formal way, at least outside of the news.

        I usually heard his predecessor referred to as just ‘Ratzinger’ – usually in a dismissive tone, which is the default tone for discussions about the Vatican back home – and I heard the new pope more cordially referred to as ‘Pope Jorge’ at first, and usually think of that as his name.

        Maybe it just seemed unusual for a public figure to be addressed with the due respect on a website that isn’t renowned for such deference (‘BS Aquino’ etc).

        1. @Dave

          I think Robert was simply being such a cliche. Another one of those rabid atheist who is no different from religious nuts.

          Would you prefer I added “BS” to the salutation too? Don’t be absurd. A lot of writers from mainstream media use BS Aquino, ya know.

    3. @Robert Haighton

      You missed the whole point of the article because you got obsessed with the salutation. It doesn’t matter what you think of him or the Catholic Church. He has to be referred to as Pope Francis now so that is what I used.

      There’s no point using his real name when most people won’t recognise it. Besides, his name is not the point of the article.

      Don’t be a point-misser.

      1. @ Ma’am Ilda,

        I am not a point misser. I was and am representing what and how most Dutch atheists feel and think about the guy.

        1. But you got stuck in the salutation. Did you even bother to read the article? If you did, it’s unfortunate that the only thing you can add to the conversation is making fun of his name.

        2. Ilda,

          Is it really important how to read one’s blog? You are the author so you want to send a clear message to all readers.
          If I am not sure how and what your message is about (is there any sarcasm in your blog?; should I read between the lines?: or is it 100% genuine?) then I should ask you first before commenting. And I didnt ask you about your message.

      2. Dear Ilda,

        You have absolutely no idea how Dutch atheists think about this gus and all his predesecors and the institute called the roman catholic church.

        1. You still miss the point. The article is not about religion. I suggest you go to the Filipino Free Thinker’s website to express your advocacy against the Catholic Church.

        2. @Robert
          I’m not an atheist but i know what you mean. filipinos defend their religion to the bitter end and do not even have the nerve to dig a little deeper into history of their beloved roman catholic church.
          It took me 30 years (and a front-row seat in the islamic world) to realize that religion is one big joke. The only main advantage christianty has over islam is that its inquisition is over and its pretty much on its way to enlightenment (in the western world at least). But in the end both are essentially built on the platform of DEATH. Life after DEATH. DEATH to all unbelievers. Every corner of the bible and quran you find DEATH DEATH DEATH DEATH.
          And hindus and shintoists dont even have it better because they are pagans.
          If you ask me, I’ll be rooting for the buddhists and jews when the apocalypse smack-down begins.

        3. @T,

          I know little to nothing about buddhism and jewism. I just dont like to worship and spend time in a mosque or temple or whatever. I have better things to do with my spare time.
          Why should I live according to somebody else’s dictations and rules. The rules set by my government are already enough.

          I live for aboutr 80-90 years and then you can throw my ashes into the sea. So in those 80-90 years I have to get the most out of life, try to stay happy, wanting to travel still alot, stay healthy and enjoying each second of it. I dont want to lay on my death bed overlooking my life and coming to the conclusion it was boring and meant nothing. I dont have to be famous but for sure I will live a good prosperous life/live.

          So I will most definetely not live according to the rules of any religion. They just dont fit me at all.

        4. @ robert
          oh dear, you’re Dutch. Recently i heard your government is folding against the silent takeover of islam in your country. They are pissing away the freedom platform your country established on. I am totally with you on “living according to somebody else’s dictations and rules”. Your people should stomp out this “progressive” behavior of your politicians, unless you want to end up like sweden, which is, thanks to muslim immigration, “the rape capital of europe”.

        5. REALLY, who gives a shit what ‘DUTCH’ atheists think? Mr.Haighton now pretends to speak for all of them…on a blog about the Philippines…LMAO !

        6. you just told off someone just because he has a different nationality. please have the manners to refrain from doing that again in the future because that is just plain racist.
          i see atheists as a good source of objective observations because unlike “devout christians from birth” they do not have the religious bias that was instilled to us by our parents.
          i give a shit about what mr. haigton has to say because he has a point regarding the catholic church and is not nailed down (pun) by biases. it is painful to the filipino ego yet is the truth.

      3. @Ilda

        Yes, filipinos are (mostly) not virtuous. Spirituality amongst regular church-goers (including the non-catholic groups) is probably reserved for the older patrons, like those-born-before-WWII old. Plus, filipinos always smile at the camera. Looks good kasi for the rest of the world. We dont want to see that occasional flying roach photobombing our selfies, do we? Lol at the meek appearance of politicians. Definitely the epitome of wolf in sheep’s clothing.

        1. @T

          I always laugh when the senators start their session with a “prayer” especially during the impeachment trial of Corona. What a bunch of hypocrites.

  4. His Eminence, Pope Francis the First , will be coming to our country, this January 2015. Aquino and his cahoots are now trying to sweep the “Dirt” under the Rug. For the Philippines, to look good, to foreign Media. Where would they put those “Unwashed Squatters”? Maybe they will paint their Squatter Houses, made of cardboard. And color the polluted , and filthy Metro Manila Rivers and Canals…Some of the Politician Thieves; you will see them: “beating their breast”, to ask for forgiveness of their Thievery…

    I don’t know, if some will also confess their numerous sins to Priests. I doubt it…

    Some will appear as “pious” , as they can be; to appeal for voters, for the 2016 election.

    Anyway, Welcome to the Philippines, Pope Francis I…please pray for our Leaders to change for the better…and that their thievery will stop…

    1. The pope’s courtesy style is not “his/your eminence” but “his/your holiness”.

      Cardinals are “his/your eminence”.

      (Not that I personally care what you call a man in a dress but I am just explaining the correct protocol.)

    2. @hyden
      That’ll be easy my friend. They can BRIBE the international media. Sadly, CNN isnt the beacon of truth we all think it is. Heck, even BBC has been pretty shady recently. They can do camera tricks or just replace footage of the danube river as a stand-in for the pasig.

        1. the popemobile has a glass casing that can easily bemusked with the scent of pine breeze.
          but from what i can deduce the pope will also try to physically reach out to the masses at some point. In that case, yeah, he’ll get to see how much the country resembles the gates of hell.

  5. Great letter Ilda! I already shared that letter to the Pope’s twitter page. I pray that he will read it and understand the situation.

    1. Pope Francis is a traitor to all Christians in Europe by supporting immigration and pressuring countries like France to “open its arms to more refuges”

      Most Immigration is coming from Muslim countries and most Muslims are not interested in Christian Europe, but a Muslim Europe. There are already 5 million Muslims in France alone. Rapidly erasing the Christian character of the country and most of West Europe. Eastern Europe is still holding on thanks to defiant countries like Hungary. The Pope should leave the Europeans alone and maybe send his Muslim immigrants to Argentina or rich Muslim countries like Malaysia. “Suleiman the Magnificent” the Ottoman Sultan who wanted to conquer Europe and convert it to Islam must be smiling from his grave now. Without force, his wish may just come true. You Filipinos are welcoming a traitor who is allowing the Muslims to erase Christian Europe!

      1. The expansion of the Ottoman Empire was stopped at Austria. They conquered Hungary…maybe, we need another :Attila the Hun, to terrorize the Muslims…

        1. Pope John Paul II believed in a Christian Europe. He was fighting and protecting Europe from the anti Christian communist. Today the Vatican with Pope Francis is endorsing the immigration of the millions of anti Christian Muslims and betraying the memory and sacrifice of the millions of European Christians who died and shed blood defending it from the Muslim invaders.

        2. The Muslim Ottomans not only conquered Hungary but enslaved 3 million Hungarians and dispersed them into the Ottoman Empire as far as Nubia, Africa. Fuck the Muslims and fuck that stupid Pope for endorsing them.

    1. The Roman Catholic Church has rituals that call for the changing of certain names, the Man who becomes Pope is one of them. Do you understand now? OR were you just showing off your ignorance ?

        1. So you know why he is called THE Pope and not his given name at birth?and you are just lying about ‘being cluelss’? Apparently you have a dislike of the
          ‘Roman Catholic Church,no?So you just go and disrespect the Man, who you do not know and have never met,yes?

          Clear? about one thing…MAYBE, and that is you really are ‘clueless’ about a few things.Such as calling people you do not know names like,uh…. stupid. You see, to me, that is real stupidity, the ‘clueless’ type of stupidity. So I guess your original comment was half right.
          Before you go gettin all knotted up,THINK: When you disrespecting & insulting the leader of a Major Modern Religion, who may have a few of his follower’s read what you wrote, what do you expect? Clear?

          and besides, YOU really think he is stupid? I mean, do you really? He is the leader of a Major Modern Religion,yes? and YOU, you are disparaging the Man on an internet blog, SO REALLY…who is the stupid one?

          You a funny guy, you know that?

        2. Dear sacred blue, green, yellow or brown,

          I once was in Sto Nino churh in Cebu City, Cebu, Visayas, Philippines (actually I was there more than once, but pls keep that a secret, will you?) . And when the flock is about to leave that church, they were all waving at/to a statue behind glass.

          It really caused me troubles to keep myself from laughing out loud. I have never seen such stupid behavior in my entire life. Any moment, that statue was about to wave back.

          The head of a company is called a CEO. But still keeps his own name. The head of a country is called a president or prime minister. Both keep their own names. Example: prime minister Cameron (UK).

          For me, the (roman) catholic religion (and all other religions) is a retarded, stupid religion which keeps the flock stupid, dumb, retarded, backwards. I certainly do not have any – I repeat – not any, respect whatsoever for a religion nor a religious person, that is NOT critical about his own religion.

          Mr. Bergoglio, will see the Philippines as his favorite child. This child does and behaves exactly the way it should “go and multiply” (according to the teachings).

          North-Western Europe is probably Mr. Bergoglio’s least favorite child. The RC church is powerless (thank god) when it comes to interfering in making new laws (e.g. same sex marriage, abortion, contracepives, euthanasia and all other family matters).

          I must admit that among all former Vatican City CEO’s, this CEO seems to be the most moderate one. Unfortunetely, it seems the rest of the board (the cardinals) are more conservative than he is.

          I guess, you (Sacred Brown) also still thinks that god creates all your kids. Keep dreaming, my son. When one of your loved ones is saved on the surgeon’s table in hospital, you also thank god. With such an attitude and mind set, you wont survive in the Western Europe. They will laugh at you in your face (including all hospital personell)

        3. @ Haighton, I am not your Son, and if you think I read any of that reply but the last two sentences your even more delusional than I realized at first.

          RESPECT, that is all.

        4. Sacre-Blue,

          Respect has to be earned and deserved based on one’s personal achievement. A person that achieved nothing, he/she will be shown no respect. Becoming/being a parent or simply being an older person is no achievement at all. Being chosen as a pope, is chance (nothing to do with personal achievement). Or can you specifically tell me what he specifically has done for the poor people, which can be assigned to his sole and individual achievement? No you cant bec he has done nothing at all.

          What rests, is that one can be appreciated.

        5. @ Haighton, YOU know nothing of the Man’s work with the poor of his native country? and then so vehemently condemn the Man as a ne’er do well? YOUR kind of ignorance, is really just arrogance disguised…and you’ll get no respect like that.

    1. You are delusional Haighton, that is all. You are not god and never will be.Get used to it, or does life suck so bad for you that you have to delude yourself into believing you are god?

  6. Wake me up when the Dalai Llama comes. He’s a cooler looking dude than Francis. Of course, no one but maybe 5% of chinese Flips would care let alone know who he is.

  7. ..Let us get together with beer by the pints
    To chat ’bout anything even taxes and fines
    Just do not be numb with needles and pins
    Don’t you know it is more fun in the Philippines

    Philip is Greek, to tell you honestly
    It means a lover, also one who’s friendly
    Sweet smelling pines were also of me
    But you cut the pines and took the beauty from me

    A puzzle, Pinoy, when will you mature?
    Was expecting more from you the love of nature
    This wall for the ocean called Pacific
    An archipelago, my islands are terrific

    Unity is what I dreamt a long time
    My body are islands scattered without rhyme
    Only to lead you, not about the body
    Rather the spirit that brings true unity

    If only you know, there’s gold in my land
    Sadly, ti’s only the greedy who had a hand
    To grab what is supposed to be for all
    What a wasted investment, it ain’t gonna roll

    Can we tell those souls who are so greedy
    They divide me with their blindness to the needy
    Yet, is it true that we are those lovers
    How is it you have no care for the others

    I am shattered now as my people cry
    Please wipe your tears so you can see the how and why
    It is for you to seek that you may find
    What is commonsense, that’s natural to the mind

    Didn’t you know what is about nature’s gift
    That when it is not shared, it will not give a lift
    Listen, for I’ll tell you how nature is.
    It will stop to give when ego is the basis

    LuzViMinda, stop being depressed
    You have your work cut out for you, hope that’s impressed
    If it’s beauty that you all want to see
    Go back to values, jump out of that murky sea

  8. yes it’s true, some of the politicians made this move just to hide all the wrongdoings in the government especially to our countrymen who suffered most in Yolanda tragedy. They are trying to convince the high eminence that they are doing good to the Filipino people but the actual situation of our country is getting worst and devastated.only a handful politicians was spared in this kind of wrongdoings . I presume the pope will try his best to console all the victims by spreading gods word just to enlightened the minds of our politicians and do the right thing, so that the phil. Will go forward.

  9. “I do hope that during your visit, you can remind Filipinos that praying is not enough. A lot of Filipinos mistakenly believe that if only every Filipino prayed hard enough, the country will progress. If you can just reiterate the motto that “God helps those who help themselves”, that would certainly help.”

    Yes, praying is a two-way communication but there are those who’ll just transmit and expect God to just receive. But when God transmits, they don’t hear Him. It’s not that He is hard to understand. It’s just that people find it hard to listen.

  10. @Robert Haighton,
    Hi Robert. I see why you hate Catholicism so much. You are exactly the same as my two friends from Amsterdam. I met both in Geneva, and we maintain closeness because of business. Because of that, however, we seldom discuss religion. When we do, they are so dismissive. “Why, Addy, would you believe in the most stupid idea ever? C’mon, you are intelligent, it’s beyond comprehension how you would hang on to something so stupid. Really, the stupidest, stupidest.. to the nth degree”

    Of course, I told them that I was more amused with their feelings than anything else. 1st, it is very difficult to believe there is no god. 2nd, if there is a god, would he reveal himself to mankind? Though the arguments for 2nd is more complicated than the 1st, it appears the answer is yes, he would reveal himself. We see elements of this in all pre-Christian religions, implicit in religions like Hinduism, Buddhism, etc..and vaguely, even in the more developed totem poles of Aztecs and Mayans. It is explicit in Judaism. (And, I don’t know if the anti-Catholic feeling may just be a cover for the anti-semitic feeling, which nobody in Europe will admit, but is there.)

    3rd, if indeed, he reveals himself, how will he reveal himself? If one is serious in tracking this, one ends up with Christianity. This leads to Catholicism, which not only answer the how of the 3rd, but also validates in return the reasonableness of the question itself, and thus, also that of the 2nd and the 1st. (“That is why I believe in order to understand”, says Augustine. Which, of course, is most ridiculous to those outside the Church. But really, how can we further explain when the proof of the pudding is in the eating.) These are all not easy, I admit, because to arrive at pure Catholicism, one has to sift through the confusion, myths, animosities, etc., that have been generated through centuries in the wake of Islam (which is a syncretism of Christianity and various religions of Arab tribes whose god is the moon god called Allah) and then the 36,000, and increasing, forms of Protestanisms. (That is why we are being asked to focus or to go back to the Summas of Thomas Aquinas, and to see the foundation of this century by century steps back to Augustine, and again century by century back to the Bible. And to check if there was syncretism in this with the Greek and Roman philosphers, or was there indeed a discernible correction, rather than refinement, of the thinking then.)

    (I am not ignoring the filth as that of the many, many cases of paedophile priests, and they are indeed very disgusting. It is just that I look at religion as searching for a treasure that may be contained inside an earthen vessel. If that treasure is divine, it will the more expose the dirt or filth of the vessel that contains it.) Apart from Islam and Protestanism, this is further complicated by New Atheism and the reformulated forms of pantheism and/or paganism, we can group, if not nuanced, as New Age. Although the latest two will deny they are religions, I still think they are, because they involve a system of belief and conviction, especially that atheism which branches of into scientism. A belief in no god is still a belief. Even scientism ignores the fact that science is a fiduciary (Latin fide = belief) system in their quest to be more Kant than Kant, or more Nietzche than Nietzche, etc. Somewhere along the line, we have to believe somebody or something. First, because not all of us have the expertise.. Second, humans do not have the time to check every knowledge. There was, I agree, no need to say that. But, it is ridiculous to believe somebody who was in particular state of mind and lifestyle, but was very good in writing, who says traditions and cultures that have been brainwashed into us are all pernicious — we have to start with a blank page, for that is the only way to be an uber-man. Could they really be that pernicious? (I think the 8-volume History of Philosophy of Frederick Coplestone argues in a very detailed way they are not.) At the same time, to always insist on an empirical and scientific evidence is very limiting, isn’t it? Man’s mind is more than that. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, you agree?

    All around us we see that we are all contingent beings. In fact, the entire universe is contingent. If we really think about it, there is no need for us to exist. There is no need for the universe to exist. But, we exist; the universe exists. Why? By the fact that we exist, is it possible that there is an existence that is non-contingent? The cause of the contingent? If that non-contigent being exist, could we attribute to that an essence that is “to be”? Is there good reason to think that way? In other words, “to exist” it has firstly “to be”, correct? That means, if that being is not contingent, his being and his existence coincides with each other, correct? Which means it has to be an existence and a being that has to be infinite, otherwise it can not be non-contingent, correct? If that is correct, then His very essence is “to be”, correct? But then if that is correct, isn’t that the very concept with which the concept of God is? In any event, I will not belabor an ontological argument here for it can be very, very long.

    Besides I am talking to a Dutch who I am sure has already encountered such; Netherlands was afterall a bastion of Catholicism at one point, and the so called Father of the big bang theory, George Lemaitre (hope got the spelling correct) was a Dutch Augustinian priest. So, I will consider myself way behind you. But, if you were absent in your school when this subjects were taken up, you might want to check the five ontological arguments of Aquinas (3 cosmological and 2 teleological). They are made more easily understandable by the likes of Peter Kreeft (who adds his own 20 more ways to that of Aquinas) and Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange (deceased. Not the alive one, who is not in philosophy) both of which you could just google. Their sites leads you also to other philosphers. But the two are good for those (like me) not pursuing philosophy as a career. Then, there is Robert Barron’s Youtube series, which are more popular in approach rather than academic. Of course, all these, only if you are interested, i am not trying to sell anything here.

    The Hallidron Collider in Switzerland recently announced finding two more baryons. Of course, there was already the quarks that Polkinghorne has proven, and the fermions, etc, earlier, all giving more and more a clear picture of the sub-atomic world Everytime there is something like this, a section of the media amplifies this that we are getting close to the “god particle”, which they say should disprove God. I don’t think they can. Why? because even if they go all the way to establishing the link to a gravitational force, that seem to be infinite, and the operative word is “seem”, they are already somehow admitting that they can’t answer the question: “how can something come from nothing?” (Forgot the name of mathematician, but he proved that even the most sophisticated calculation will always have a self limiting character to it) And the more they are proving things in the material world, the more they are confirming the universe is intelligible, (which in first place is why they are doing what they are doing) And if it is more inteligible, it implies more and more an inteligent design. In turn, that implies an intelligent designer, isn’t it? The proposal to look at a multi-verse is very shaky, to say the least, but let them, we are interested. (And Hawking’s pursuit of Theory of Everything is even more interesting. Bring it on.) To the very last link they can find, it will still have to answer the question “why is it there?” (Dawkins says this is a useless and most stupid question. But, is it really? His book exposed his total lack of philosophical foundation, that four important scientists who normally looked at religion as non issue suddenly had to take a look, and ended up being converted to religion. Check Telegraph on this) Or, is there more freedom attainable in saying now that there must be a non-contingent being whose very essence is “to be”? And that this “to be” has given us a part of that “to be” which has to be inexhaustible if it is His by Essence?

    Point is religion may not be that stupid. My two friends say all these philosophical arguments are stupid. They are just philosophies and they prove nothing. Agree, they may not be a proof, In fact, they are above proof, they are more than a proof if they contain so much reasonableness. It is intellectual dishonesty to discount them. That is why lately I have been quite curious why my two friends would discount such philosophies. As CS Lewis said: “How can there be no god, when everyone is arguing that their subjective judgement is the objective judgement. So, everyone admits the concept of objectivity” And Pascal wrote to himself: “Let us weigh up the gain and the loss involved in calling heads that God exists. Let us assess the two cases: if you win you win everything, if you lose you lose nothing. Do not hesitate then; wager that He does exist.” Hahaha, of course, we cannot go for a religion on the basis of a wager, but he is funny.

    But I do understand what you are saying. Ratzinger (BenedictXVI) during his term has tried to correct many things, by repeating and repeating, “Faith without reason is superstition, and reason without faith is idolatry of man”. I don’t know why the local bishops don’t repeat this as often as he did, when Philippine Catholicism is in most need of this since it is a syncretism of a 15th century Catholicism and animism. That is why it looks like it is based on superstition. In fact, to think that life on earth is shit, and that all will only be okay in heaven is wrong. If the life given was eternal, that life already started here. It is just that life has two phases (is it really just two phases?).. no, i will not get into this theological discussion, but …….Ah, whatever, I don’t know I don’t know anything when it comes to the Church here.. Let me just end by saying that God wrote two books: (a) the Bible through the language of men, and (b) the universe, or nature, with His own language. Faith and Reason go together. We should not be afraid of science for that is in pursuit of truth. We should not also be afraid of religion, for that too, more than anything else, is in pursuit of truth. Like a bird, two wings flying in a cooperative manner. (This is why I often hesitate commenting on religion for it can go on and on and on, without end. Robert, thanks if you read this tiring comment, and Benign0 too, if he would allow, hehehe, this long comment)

    1. @Add,

      I read your long comment very quickly. Is it okay when I respond later. Its 02.17AM here (sunday morning) and I really cant keep my eyes open much longer.

      1. @Robert Thanks. Sure, you can take all the time. I cannot also have my tablet fix to GRP all the time, but I do check it a couple of times in day.
        @Benign0, thanks for allowing a long comment. Appreciate it.

      2. @ Haighton, while you are busy insulting the leader of a major modern religion,Roman Catholicism, why stop there?
        Why not try insulting, in public, the leader’s of another major modern religion like say, Islam? and see what happens? You will no doubt remember what happened to the ‘DUTCH’ Man who was Van Gogh’s Great-nephew?

    2. Add,

      we consider one’s religion something private. So we will not often start a conversation about one’s religion and his/her position/feelings about it. It’s private. Translated, our credo comes down to this: “I am not gonna bother you with my religion, so pls don’t bother me with yours. Pls keep your religion inside your own home”. But that does not mean, we atheists, don’t have our own opinion about a religion. So when you ask, I will give.

      I have 2 positions about all religions:
      a) everything was invented (and that includes the image “god”) by those who wrote all those text/scriptures etc
      b) even if ever there was a god/allah/buddha then I don’t care. But lets limit myself to Christianity.
      b1) the bible was written by only males. Not the perfect distribution of any society, right?
      b2) the bible is very woman-unfriendly
      b3) the bible presents itself as the truth, the whole truth an nothing but the truth. When I am pro-divorce, it means I am not speaking the truth, right?
      b4) the bible keeps people ignorant and non-critical
      b5) “go and multiply”? Can I pls decide that for myself with consulting my partner? Can I just decide not to procreate bec I find my career much more important than having kids? Can I decide to not have kids bec maybe I am not the best dad in the world? Can I decide not to procreate bec I cant afford it and thus not being able to give my kids a proper future?
      b6) thou shall not coveth they neighbour wife? Can I decide that for myself with the help of my neighbour?
      b7) the bible forbids abortion. I hope not many Christian women are raped in their lives.

      The bible is too much dictating how I should live. Sorry Add, I will decide for myself what is good and what is not. My country has pretty much good laws, so I will stick to the laws that my government has issued. And if I don’t like a few laws then I will by-pass them.

      In a perfect world, maybe the bible is good. If all guys were heterosexuls and all women were heterosexuals then maybe it would be a good book. But that is not the case.

      I am sure that any leader of Vatican city can not start buying out Christianity by allowing things today that were always forbidden.
      On the other hand, I know a lot of Christians are waiting for more leniency regarding “rules, regulations and laws”. For me its just unthinkable to wait for a hand out from Vatican city. If you want more freedom then take it and don’t wait till you get the okay.
      Last but not least: although the majority in the Philippines is religious, I see a lot of double standards.

      PS: I really wonder how Jorge’s brothers, sisters, high school friends address him before he became pope and the day after. Today Jorge and tomorrow Franciscus? Strange.

        1. @Add,

          thanks for the link. Read it. That was very enlightening to read. A pity I dont see that in any contact I had & have with Filipinos/as.

          Again very much appreciated (genuinely) !!

  11. Can he also give a stern lecture to local clergy telling them that they are also accountable for the current moral decay in the Philippines? Can he tell them that they, the local clergy, should focus less on impeding access to reproductive health products and more on tangibly helping the poor? Also for all its talk on sex/reproductive health it is baffling that the Philippine Catholic church does not go after the rampant prostitution in the country often times involving minors (hmmm sexual abuse involving minors, maybe a little too close to home?). He should scold the local clergy for not focusing on such rampant and visible immorality.

    1. Good idea, triple r.

      It is mind boggling, indeed. The noon-time shows featuring gyrating women in skimpy clothes should have made the priest go up in arms but you don’t hear them speaking against it.

  12. Dear Pope Francis,

    I hope you will spend more time in the Visayas and/or Mindanao rather than in Manila. Even your visit in Tacloban is only for a few hours. I wonder who in Imperial Manila made your itinerary.

    Bohol, for one, was struck by an Earthquake and I wonder why the Manila-centric CBCP didn’t include the province in your visit. Please visit also Bantayan Island in Cebu because it was also hit very hard by typhoon Yolanda.

    And please spend more time in Tacloban and in Palo. Celebrate a Mass among the poor in Tacloban, Palo, Bantayan Island, Bohol, rather than in Santo Tomas University, in SM MOA, etc.etc,

    Thank you.

  13. No one has no religion or belief. You have to have one. 0therwise, you’re just a person without a brain or an animal without an instinct.

  14. @Robert:
    If you really believe on your credo, why did you in the first place make an issue with how people address the pope? Unless you want to tell me you’re simply interested, it’s fine. But if you criticize people for that then go back to your credo.

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