Is there such a thing as a part-time Roman Catholic?

In the coming Easter season (“holy week” to Filipinos), there is, again, a call to reflect on our spirituality and what it means to be Catholic. To most Filipinos, being a “good” Catholic is to go through the motions of what Catholic dogma dictates. And in this season of prayers and visita iglesias and avoiding meat by feasting on sushi every Friday, this becomes particularly relevant.

It is, indeed, quite striking how many good Catholics would observe these rituals to a tee yet be remiss in the observance of other liefestyle stipulations of Catholic dogma that have far more serious implications on one’s “afterlife”. Catholic dogma, after all, is quite clear on the limits of its adherents’ lifestyle choices, particularly around sexual activity within the framework of the sacrament of matrimony, birth control methods, and sexual orientation. The question one needs to ask, therefore, is this:

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Is there such a thing as a part-time Catholic?

Many, of course, would justify the wishy-washiness around their personal practice of Catholicism by saying that it is not for anyone to judge how one leads one’s spiritual life. But, see, the trouble with that argument is that it reveals a deep lack of understanding of the difference between the concept of the spiritual and the framework of religion. Spirituality is an inner lifestyle not accessible to others and, as such, is personal. Religion, on the other hand, is governed by social organisations and institutions and, as such, is public. When we go to church, we supposedly “dress in our Sunday best”. That’s because the practice of religion is necessarily a public exhibition. We go to religious events and participate in religious rituals to be seen to be a good member of the congregation.

The thing with being a member of a religion is that most of the big — and rich — ones have extensive bodies of written doctrine. In the case of Catholicism, both scripture (The Bible) and dogma (Canon law) are in indisputable black-and-white. Even a hip pontiff like Pope Francis, chokes on that body of work whenever he dares explore the fringes of “reform”. Indeed, the Vatican City itself is a vast fortification within which is enclaved the most sacred Catholic artefacts, many of which are no more than original written works of scholars who had lived, toiled, and died across many centuries to collectively stitch together some semblance of logical and philosophical consistency across elements of Catholic doctrine.

What Filipinos need to appreciate nowadays is that the 21st Century is a century of an abundance of choice and an abundance of information to make informed choices. This abundance of material to enrich one’s quality of life is perhaps worth focusing our reflections on in these times of the year of increased fervour in the observance and public practice of Catholic rituals. The latter is the important thing to think of.

Are we representing Catholicism well in the way we publicly exhibit ourselves as Catholics?

If not, perhaps we might think about whether our Catholic religious beliefs remain consistent with our inner spiritual aspirtations, well-being, and choices. Life, after all, is too short to be living in guilt over our inability to comply with a body of man-made “rules” that supposedly determine the fate of our soul after death. Too short indeed, specially in the 21st Century where there is an abundance of paths towards becoming a good human being to choose from.

8 Replies to “Is there such a thing as a part-time Roman Catholic?”

  1. To become a good human-being entails responsibility to follow laws both man-made and God. The latter is more important because it is our way to salvation in Heaven. Jesus already said “what good is it with a man to gain the whole world and loses his soul?” Thus, it reveals what man should prioritize his whole life for him to get access to Heaven.

  2. There is, I call them “Seasonal Catholics”. They prefer to practice their faith during Christmas, New Year and Holy Week. Just the fun parts, when there are breaks, parties, and celebrations. Unknowingly, most do not even fast and abstain during Good Fridays.

  3. It is my opinion that most Christians do not follow the bible. They want to title of ‘Christian’ – but do not want to follow it. Technically, you have to be consistent in order to be real. How many people have the discipline to actually follow the bible? Very few. Being Christian is more about keeping up appearances with others.

    Catholicism is a remnant of Spanish colonialism. I don’t know how healthy it is for Filipinos to submit to it – but there may be some benefits. I read that the place of people was better before the Spanish enslaved the islands.

    One of the biggest problems now is the issue of birth control and family planning. There is a population explosion and it will continue to get worse. The quality of life of the country’s poorest people is horrible. There is a clash between economics and religion. The Catholic Church does not care if children suffer in poverty, as long as church doctrine is followed. My question is this: why does the Catholic Church not condemn alcohol use and drunkenness( big issues in the Philippines) – but condemns birth control and abortion? The country has to make the decision to move forward, modernize and make birth control accessible, or continue to live in the 19th Century, with its sufferings such as poverty.

    Also of interest is the fact that the Philippines has (embarrassingly) the reputation of being one of the world’s sex tourist destinations. Quite funny for a ‘Catholic’ country. I know that desperation leads to garbage – but there has to be something better for Filipino women, than being bought by imperial males with more money. Nothing has changed since the brothels of WW 2 ‘comfort’ women and imperialism. This continued with American military imperialism. Same Catholic religion, same overpolulation, same desperation and the same lack of dignity.

  4. This ‘part-time’ theme is an on-going situation, only we call it ‘moderate’ Christians. Its the first step from being a ‘strict’ Christian to the final phase of becoming an ‘enlightened’ Christian. The similarities all 3 share are that they were baptised. But after that, the individual Christian followed/foolows a different path. Its the difference between what kind of box they tick (off) – at what church are you registered – and what do you practise. Because of (new) insights, globalization, social media, real media, this may and will lead to more exposure to other insights.

    A good example is the Republic of Ireland.

    True Confession
    God save Ireland from … the Catholic church
    The Irish are increasingly secular and progressive, but their church-dominated institutions have not kept up.

    Today, Ireland is by and large a secular country, but official figures can be misleading. According to the 2011 census, 84 percent of the Irish population declared themselves to be “Roman Catholic.” But the census form makes no distinction between religious belief or practice and a sense of cultural belonging. Catholicism has been extremely powerful in shaping the identity of Irish citizens for hundreds of years, particularly as it stands in binary opposition to the state’s old enemy: Protestant England. But cultural Catholics and practicing ones are two very different beasts.
    Census figures from 2016, released just this past week show that 3.7 million people identified as Catholic (78%), 132,220 fewer than in 2011.
    Furthermore, one in 10 Irish people from these latest findings now say they have no religion (468,421 people), a staggering 73.6% increase since 2011. This makes “no religion” the second largest group in this category behind Roman Catholics.
    Another survey from 2011revealed mass attendances in the nation’s capital had fallen to as low as 14 percent a figure the Archbishop of Dublin, and Primate of Ireland, Diarmuid Martin, described at the time as the “biggest crisis since [Catholic] emancipation in 1829.”

    Thankfully, Ireland actually enjoys a freer press than most countries in the world. Last year it was ranked 9th globally in a press freedom index survey.
    But again, the Catholic Church holds some level of influence here. For example, blasphemy is currently a criminal act in Ireland. And in 2009, the Defamation Act established blasphemy as an offense punishable with fines of up to € 25,000.
    The reporting of religious news in Ireland, by comparison with any other western nation, is quite unique.
    Religious correspondents are given an extraordinary amount of air time on the state broadcaster, RTÉ, and given an unusual amount of coverage in the national newspapers, too.
    The main news bulletin at six o’clock, for instance, begins with a reflective minute’s silence, and a call to pray, accompanied by a myriad of Catholic imagery.

    The hospitals owned by the Irish religious orders are listed by Revenue Commissioners as organizations that have been granted Charitable Tax Exemption.
    John Bowen Walsh, a technical executive at the Institute of Chartered Accountants told me when I was investigating the story about Hasbro and religious orders last year that: “There is no law in the Republic of Ireland] that says: here is what you do for accountability and administration if you are a religious organization.”
    This, in effect, means religious orders are above and beyond the law in Ireland.

    So why, then, given these mass shifts in demographics, and changed ideological belief systems, does the Catholic Church still hold so much power in Ireland?
    To paraphrase, rather clumsily, an old Clintonian catchphrase: it’s the institutions, stupid.
    As the political scientist Francis Fukuyama has noted in his book Political Order and Political Decay, political development always goes hand in glove with change, over time, in political institutions. Because, crucially, the institutions of the state are where the concentrations of power lie.
    In Ireland, these state institutions such as schools, hospitals, and charities run by the religious orders were supposed to, under difficult circumstances, and with little money, serve public purposes.
    But instead, they were captured by selfish private interests. The net result is that these institutions proceeded to rot from within from the very beginning of their existence.
    And those institutions were neither reformed, or destroyed, at any moment in their history.
    Today, they still control a great portion of Irish society, even if they have decayed into old age – rather squalidly – over the last number of decades.
    If Ireland is to finally become the progressive, worldly, forward, outward looking, secular modern European nation it seeks to be, its citizens must dissolve those institutions – once and for all – from the backward, poisonous and tyrannical forces of Roman Catholicism which has held the country back for so many years.

  5. Your religion is your own business…I will not dare to tell you: it is wrong or not. My belief in God, is private to me. My belief in religions is also private to me.

    If people wants to be become “part time” religious people… It is what they want. Some politicians use religion to get elected. They ally themselves, with Priests and Nuns, as their tools to get into power. These Priests and Nuns, instead of following the teachings of Jesus Christ; involve themselves, as tools of evil politicians…

    For me, the Roman Catholic Church in the Philippines, is a tool of the Feudal Oligarchs, to remain in power. The Roman Catholic Church, still owns a large portion of Friar Lands, tilled by poor tenants. It is a Feudalist religion…

    Spirituality is very much different from outward showing of being religious. Like the late Cory Aquino. Was she spiritual ? She pretended to show piousness and being religious, by being photograph kneeling infront of altars…this is to hook your votes…

    How about our leaders and politicians. How many are spiritual ? With thievery , corruption and plunder, left and right…they are more of the disciples of Satan !

    1. Why Filipinos are part-time Catholics in spite that our country is the largest Catholic nation in Asia (insert Pinoy Pride here)? Is it because the Filipinos are too dumb or too materialistic to follow this religion? Well, I’d found this topic from in order to answer this kind of questions. Just click the link below & read it, especially that our country have the longest celebration of Christmas than any countries around the world & we’ve literally ignored the celebration of Easter Sunday which is really the true celebration of Jesus’ mission & passion into our world, two thousand years ago:


      See that? The Filipino Catholics really took it for granted as being a “Catholic” but not really becoming a true Catholics when they committing adultery, taking too much alcohol, gambling & drugs, practicing greed, arrogance, selfishness & corruption, worshiping their saints as their idols just like they idolize Vice Ganda, Alden Richards, Maine Mendoza, etc. and celebrating the longest Christmas holidays in the world without giving charities, comfort the abused & helpless people & giving discipline & love to their families. Roman Catholicism, its more fun in the Failippines. :*(

  6. Has any Filipino politician plead guilty of a crime? Is there a Filipino politician who has ever admitted doing wrong? It seems bizarre that all Filipino politicians claim innocence in the face of rampant corruption? Can someone name 3? 1?

  7. If Failipinos in the Failippines don’t behave as they believe, Failipinos will end by believing as they behave.

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