A SMALL crowd of Catholic faithful standing in the rain outside Quiapo Church and praying for immunity from Covid-19 makes me cringe. They are not half as cringe-worthy as fanatic Black Nazarene devotees yet are no less a proof of how Filipinos never got their religion right from Spanish friars of our colonial past nor from Catholic bishops and clergy of our still colonial present.
Vatican II opened Church doors to the modern world. The people of God are to sally forth into a technologically advanced yet spiritually troubled world and bring Christ’s message of love, justice, and peace. But Philippine Catholic Church leaders instead opted to continue teaching Filipinos the Spanish friars’ peripheral “Christianisms” instead of essential Christianity.
Once again, “Christianisms” are devotional practices of a religion of acceptance of suffering as God’s will. The poor need not know and do something about the cause of their suffering. They only need to pray and trust that God will provide the solution to their problems.
Meanwhile, many political leaders receive the Eucharist and grace with their presence such big feasts as that of the Sto. Nino or the Black Nazarene. They stand as baptismal and wedding sponsors, send their children to Catholic schools, and even launch election campaigns with a Eucharistic celebration and a hefty donation to the Church.
But then they think nothing of doing such essentially unchristian acts as buying votes, threatening and coercing voters, cheating in elections, and once in office stealing from government and not providing social services to their constituents.
Many Catholic businessmen also go to Church regularly and help support their parish Church. They open new businesses and celebrate business anniversaries with Holy Mass and Church donation. But then they rationalize their way out of such unchristian acts as not paying their workers a living wage, not remitting their workers’ SSS, Pagibig, etc. contributions, and not telling their customers the truth about their products.
Many Catholic religious leaders also tell the poor, from air-conditioned comfort, to accept poverty as God’s will. Instead of denouncing unchristian behavior and physically (not just spiritually) helping its victims, they merely order a specific prayer (oratio imperata) to be said for actual and potential victims of such immoral behavior.
Until it is no longer business as usual in the Catholic Church with perfunctory “Christianisms;” until the Church starts modeling Christ’s message of love, justice, and peace to millions of victims of our unjust social order, the Philippines will remain the most corrupt and poorest in Asia, a glaring scandal to its non-Christian neighbors.