AMIDST the politico-economic and moral mess of the Philippines, one finds a Catholic Church that can only feebly fight for people’s participation in government because it is not a democratic institution itself. The clerical elite have an iron grip on the Church’s political (organization), cultural (doctrine) and economic (funds) systems. It is even more elitist, has even bigger structural problems, than government.
The Catholic Church should push for the election into government office of people with the qualities needed to face the unique challenges of a specific political jurisdiction. It cannot do this because it is not electing but imposing its bishops and priests in different dioceses and parishes on what does not appear to be a best-fit basis.
The Catholic Church hierarchy can neither push earnestly for transparency in government in order to minimize corruption because it is even less transparent than government. The Catholic clerical elite do not feel accountable to the people at all. They conduct Church affairs in a manner that tells us they believe in being accountable only to themselves.
One of the biggest scandals in the Philippine Catholic Church today is the virulent way it opposes a Reproductive Health bill that would provide a comprehensive package of health services to poor mothers and their children. This is where the Church elite’s addiction to control has completely taken over its heart.
The celibate clerical elite refuse to accept facts like the very high rate of infant and maternal mortality, or the fact that most abortions are resorted to by poor mothers, in very crude and often fatal ways, because they know next to nothing about, and have no financial access to, effective family planning methods.
For being one of the few functional monarchies left in the world today, the Catholic Church is not only a biblical but also a post-modern anomaly. Biblical, because Christians were originally just small communities of Christ’s followers and post-modern because small communities are today’s trend again.
Business is going into SBU’s (small business units) and government is decidedly making the barangay as its smallest functioning unit. Vatican II started a return to “small Christian communities” but the Philippine Hierarchy just had to convert them, for control purposes, into “small ecclesial communities.”
The Catholic Church is fast losing Europe as evidenced by empty churches. Unless it faces up to its structural problem, it will also be left in the Philippines with nobody but a handful of old women, as in Europe, to impose its antiquated ways on. But not to worry since Christianity will thrive, as in Europe, in less structured and authoritarian ways.