Do Filipinos still trust Roman Catholic priests?

This may sound like a silly question considering that the majority of Filipinos still troop to Sunday masses and fete priests like celebrities at social gatherings. They come to them for advise, delegate to them their children’s education, hold on to every word they utter during their homilies, and whisper their darkest thoughts and most “immoral” acts to their ears during confession.

Yet these are people — community leaders — who utterly failed to convince 31 million Filipinos to vote for their preferred candidates. Over no less than three national elections, the Catholic clergy made no secret of their support for the various guises of an Opposition camp that, at its core, is the same old Yellowtard-Communist Axis that had dominated it for decades. How is it that a cohort that commands an audience of church goers catastrophically fails to influence the voting decisions of their flock.

Perhaps these priests consistently misread their relationship with their congregations. Filipinos very likely maintain personal relationships with their god and see priests only as his messengers and idealise them as his humble representatives on Earth. The disconnect could be in the way priests see themselves. This is evident in the way many priests behave, easily forgetting their true roles in society as guides. Indeed, the metaphor commonly used in scripture is the shepherd.

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Interestingly, many would argue that priests who take political positions and express these before their captive audience are abusing their power. However, the more probable reality is that priests overestimate the influence they wield. The writing’s been on the wall for some time. Despite their “teachings” priests have failed to curb “premarital sex”, homosexuality, use of artificial contraceptives, and “immoral” behaviour. More revealing is their failure to block passage of reproductive health legislation and will likely eventually fail in their opposition to the passage of modern divorce laws.

What punctuates the irrelevance of the Catholic clergy in Philippine society today is their failure to thwart the rise to power of current President Bongbong Marcos. Indeed, no surprise that the Church, along with its allies in traditional mass media and the very Opposition leaders it gave disproportionate profile to suffer acute crises of credibility today. They have racked up quite the a dismal track record of failed influence peddling projects.

Rather than come between Filipinos and the personal relationship they are nurturing with their god, priests should step back from their social climbing aspirations to be toasts of the town and revisit their true calling — to be the Lord’s shepherds. If they learn to pivot back to that humble regard for their place in society, perhaps it may not be too late for them to shore up whatever is left of their credibility.

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