RELIGION is a dominant element in a nation’s culture. Thus, predominantly Lutheran nations have more innovative and progressive thinkers than predominantly Catholic ones. Buddhist and Hindu countries are more respectful of nature and the environment while in Muslim countries religion and culture are one and the same banana.
Accordingly, we are what we are economically, politically, and culturally to no small extent due to the influence of Catholicism. As the Philippines, therefore, prepares to celebrate 500 years of Christianity it would be a great idea to discern, for the purpose of moving more effectively forward, what are the good and bad influences of Catholicism on Filipino political, economic and cultural life.
Like if Christianity is about loving and sharing one’s gifts with the neighbor, why are the majority of Filipinos poor or not getting their share of God’s gift of resources to this country? If Christianity is about living the truth, why are hypocrisy and dishonesty more rule than exception in our economic, political and religious life?
These are telling questions that should make responsible personalities (bishops and clergy obviously) in our Catholic religion realize that they did not use effective methods of proclaiming (pag sangyaw) Christ’s good news of salvation, and that these should be changed more or less radically if the new pag sangyaw will finally Christianize what has so far been a most unchristian country for the past 500 years.
It is most critical that the search for a new pag sangyaw method start with a fundamental acceptance of the fact that Christianity was introduced to us by Spain as a means of making us bow to her rule, that the friar’s cross was the carrot and the soldier’s sword the stick that together brought a once proud people down to its knees.
The irony that has long escaped our Catholic leaders lies in the truth that it was not Christian at all for Spain to grab our land, make us tenants of our own land and treat us as non-equals, contrary to what Christ teaches that we are all equally children of God.
Considering that the prevailing social situation is still very unchristian the Philippine Catholic Church is challenged to toss the colonizer’s peripheral “Christianisms” (rituals, some hypocritical, others fanatical) that created a submissive people (“Diyos ray mag-igo”) and replace them with a liberating hard-core Christianity (works of mercy) that makes people take personal responsibility for their lives and the lives of all of God’s children.
Fees for Church services are starting to be abolished. Completely abolishing the commercialization of Church services by March 16, 2021 would make for a good beginning to a new way of pag sangyaw.