Politics is divisive as it is and, just like politics, religion tears rights across families and friendships. It is often unwise to raise both topics in “polite” company unless, of course, one is angling for a fight.
Consider then the Filipino priest. Their role in society is in crisis because religion is in decline as modern thinking and education becomes accessible to more people and ideologies based on mere belief are discredited. It will therefore take radical reform to arrest this decline in the status and credibility of this once-revered “vocation” — something leaders of major religions are unlikely to support.
But the writing has long been on the wall. An Inquirer report notes, “In 2019, 7% said that religion is ‘not at all important.’ Fast forward to 2020, and the figure for the same category rose to 15%.” The report continues…
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Moreover, participation in religious activities has been declining at a continuous rate: for 2020, 46% of the respondents said that they attended religious services weekly, 34% said they did it monthly, and 27% said occasionally.
The last several national elections had handed down a brutal indictment on the Philippine Roman Catholic Church which, over all those elections, had unabashedly and rabidly supported Opposition “coalitions” that all went on to suffer catastrophic losses at the polls. The most recent one held in 2022, saw the return of the son of former President Ferdinand E Marcos who, in 1986, was ousted in a coup d’etat supported by no less than then top Church officer Jaime Cardinal Sin.
Today, Catholic priests continue to abuse the captive audience they enjoy during their Sunday masses and other liturgical services — rituals that many Filipinos still participate in. They lace their homilies with political agendas and emotionally blackmail and gaslight their congregations into seeing the political spectrum as one where one side is “good” and, the other, “evil”. That good-versus-evil narrative was, itself, a popular tool used by politicians through the ages to elicit fear and reverence and, off that, command fear in their subjects.
The manner with which today’s Roman Catholic priests wield this ancient tool of mass persuasion is but a vestige of that old means to mobilise an ignorant lot. It is high time Filipinos purge these society of the people who continue to propagate obsolete such underhanded practices.
benign0 is the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com.