PRESIDENT Duterte’s question, “Why celebrate 500 years of Christianity” is definitely rhetorical. It is more of a statement (that the 500th anniversary of Christianity should not be celebrated) than a question the answers to which he already knows.
I agree with the President’s statement and here is how I elaborate on some of his and my reasons.
The introduction of Christianity coincided with the country’s conquest by Spain and was not a welcome and happy event. Christianity, it is true, was not forced down our throats but Spain did use the cross to make us accept her unjustifiable theft and rule of our land.
Spanish friars preached a Christianity of passive acceptance of an oppressive rule that was justified as the Christian God’s will. We were blinded to the injustice of their occupation by the medieval brand of Christianity that considered heresies and sexual sins, not injustice and oppression, as the more serious sins one can commit.
This was the start of the Filipino Catholic’s reliance on prayers to solve even the most petty of problems. Like we pray to St. Jude even to pass a bar or board exam. We don’t bother with water-sealed toilets or safe drinking water yet we pray to God to spare us from disease. We lacked the courage to oppose the evil of Martial Law but we certainly prayed hard for its abolition. Today the go-to answer of the Catholic hierarchy to impending calamities and disasters is the oratio imperata.
It is no wonder that after 500 years of this medieval brand of Christianity, after five centuries of the skewed moral compass the institutional Church gave us, all she could show for it is a society that is ridden with corruption from top to bottom.
We are the only Christian country in this part of the world yet we are the most corrupt, the least concerned and caring of our fellow citizens as a result of which we have the most poor people as a percentage of the total population.
It is obvious from the results, a corrupt society of a few rich and powerful elite and masses of poor and powerless people, that the institutional Church has been preaching the wrong Christ on account of which Christianity has not been the solution but a big part of the problem.
The most remarkable thing the Catholic Church can do now is a collective mea culpa. If Catholic bishops and clergy do not want the next 500 years to produce more corrupt and unjust business, political, and religious leaders and more poor and powerless people they should accept accountability for the dysfunctional Philippine Christian society and radically change their evangelization method.
Otherwise, if the wrong Christ continues to be taught there is no faith to celebrate only a sin of omission to atone for.