Not You Too?

5 Feb

Jessica Zafra chimed in on the Celdran issue today. And I’d like to chime in on that, too. On some parts, at least.

Call it a publicity stunt, a performance art piece or just plain rude, but Carlos Celdran’s Padre Damaso act has achieved at least three things.

It called attention to the Reproductive Health bill, galvanizing the silent supporters who thought the bill was dead in the water. The Church would never go for it, so we thought Congress wouldn’t. We are happy to be wrong. It would appear that the days of blind obedience to the Church are over. [I look at this in a positive light: those inside the Church and claim to be members of the Catholic Church without knowing what it means to be really Catholic can finally get out!]

The official reaction to Carlos’ act alerted us to the existence of a law punishing citizens for “offending religious feelings” while reminding us that in the Philippines, Church and State may be the same thing.

In pursuing its legal case against Carlos instead of practising what it preaches and forgiving him, the Church has made a martyr out of Carlos. [Wait a minute. the Church pursued the legal case? The media makes it look like the Church is pursuing the case when in fact, it isn’t! Did Jessica Zafra not get updated with the statement from the RCAM?] As the Church has traditionally relied on other parties to create its martyrs – Romans, Visigoths, British monarchs and so on – this sets an interesting precedent: the Church is now making its own martyrs. In doing so it guarantees constant media coverage for Carlos, setting him up as a viable political candidate. If he actually does jail time, his election is assured. After all, if movie actors can get elected for pretending to kill bad guys, why can’t a theatre actor get elected for actually standing up (and yelling) for his beliefs? [sure. But in the wrong place? Not so fast.]

I cannot argue with Zafra’s own point-of-view regarding the portrayals and descriptions of what society was during that period. I can only agree with her and Rizal in these matters: there were corrupt people in the government as well as in the Church and there was power to be held in either side. It would be stupid to deny that. Yet, he maintained good relations with his Jesuit mentors and even dedicated his other work to the 3 Filipino Priest-Martyrs saying,The Church, by refusing to degrade you, has placed in doubt the crime that has been imputed to you.” A good sign in my book.


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