THERE is no need for President Rodrigo Duterte to sort of admonish in passing that Catholics shun from hearing masses. At first glance, this presidential remark seems irreverent in view of the separation of Church and State which guarantees the free exercise of religious worship. Thus, it is not unexpected that such statement, coming as it does from the highest official of the land, elicits outright grievous reaction from the catholic hierarchy.
It is not the intent hereabout to second-guess the presidential mindset to support his view. That’s not my cup of coffee. The fact is for the longest time, church attendance during regular Holy Mass has been declining. It must be hastened to stress, though, that this disinterest of not a few Catholics in hearing Holy Mass is not caused by disaffection to the Divine virtues of faith, hope and morality upon which Roman Catholicism is founded. Far from it.
For the virtues of Christianity are manifested in the continuing missionary and social amelioration works of the faithful to help meet the urgent needs of the marginalized sector for much-needed medical and shelter assistance to mention a few. Above all, is that Saving Grace of Christianity, Pope Francis, for his incessant apostolic appeal among the leaders of the world to discard armed confrontation in settling their differences if only to uphold the sanctity of life, promote peace and human progress. Moreover, by firing high officials of the Vatican and church dignitaries, the good Pope has unmistakably shown his aversion for corruption, unchaste deeds and arrogance from within and from without.
Rather the waning patronage in Holy Mass, is fairly ascribed to the unconcealed bigotry and extravagant lifestyle of not a few members of the priesthood contrary to the vow of modesty. Indeed, last December 30 of the year just past, I was an eyewitness to the brutal indiscretion of the parish priest of our Nuestra Senora del Pilar Parish Church of my hometown San Simon who officiated in the Holy Sacrament of Marriage of my nephew Mike with Diane.
To begin with, it appeared that as the priest delivers his homily, he noticed that the newly-weds are conversing. Apparently offended by the seeming lack of seriousness of the couple to listen to his message, the priest suddenly blew his top and repeatedly threw personal insults to Michael and Diane. To make matters worse, he trespassed to the forbidden territory of attributing the alleged ill-mannered behavior of the couple to their respective parents. That’s bullying per se!
Admirably, the charge-goers, especially the parents of the newly-weds and their sponsors maintained their cool by keeping their indignation in silence. This clergy-man must take a lesson or two from this display of decency and humility. But such act of civility does not absolve anyone from being declared persona non grata.
When this declaration happens, there is hope that the waning mood of parishioners in hearing Holy Mass will be reversed to regain the solid moral ascendancy of the Catholic Church in the Christian World.