Photo: tabloid front page showing a Filipino Bishops alleged statements aimed at President Duterte
The Duterte"tirade" has occupied many Filipino Christians.
On social media, of course, this was blasted and conflated as an accusation against the President.
They accuse him of blaspheming and many other things put of an obvious misreading of stories he gave in a speech. Some tell him "its too much."
It is a clear response to an equally disgraceful action of a particular Catholic Bishop who came out swinging with blatantly false statements to the effect that government killed 3 priests.
In fairness to the three priests and their families, none of them could be accused of saying or doing anything against the government. Only the bishop said so.
Curiously, however, no one among the catholic faithful admonished the bishop against making such false statements. That it came from a successor to the apostles, a man of the cloth makes it unbecoming. A bishop went down to trade barbs with a politician who never pretended to like him, who never asked to be liked.
Of course, the President`s detractors will never admit that about the Bishop. He has always represented their interests, all the way from his improper statements against him as a candidate during the 2016 elections through to a sustained campaign of vilification in recent weeks. They instead try to justify his words and actions, and their silence at his impropriety .
The broader context is that People like the Bishop have always been used to leaders they can manipulate, and thought that the secular leader would stand down like his predecessors. He didnt.
Historically, Catholic Church in particular reached the apex of its power in 1986, when it led a revolution that toppled a dictator. Since then its voice has lent an opinion on many things secular. To illustrate: a bishop`s opinion on whether elementary pupils deserve a mandatory drug test landed on the front page of a major daily.
At the same time, however, 1986 was that start of its cultural decline and influence where it should provide strength and comfort: within Filipino families. Marriage annulments have increased, and an acceptance of sinful lifestyles have become enshrined as human rights. As the recent oral arguments on gay marriage have begun in the Supreme Court, no one bothered to interview the same bishop on its ramifications on family life.
At the height of the debates on the Reproductive Health Law, its followers were mocked no end by the same people who now pretend to support the Bishops statements against the President.
Dutertes tirade was thus a humbling moment for the Bishop and other Churches and Church leaders. For the first time, a Filipino president did not stand aside as a Church Leader launched a clear tirade against him.
If Filipinos have been so used to their secular leaders often bowing to a a Church`s interests, look up previous instances of their own wrongdoing for balance. Human as they are, we will find many. The hard truth is this: our faith does not, and should not rest on the ability of a Church to issue political statements or apply political pressure.
Thus to those whose faith is shaken by a mortal man`s statements, we believe this is a teaching moment for you: your faith isn`t as solid as you think. It it were, you would not be so agitated, and your foundation would be firm in the faith, filled with the comfort of the Spirit.
Nonetheless, this is a watershed moment for all Filipino Christians, a moment of clarity, comfort and realization only scripture and grounded teaching in Philippians 4: "Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."