Sometime last week, the following invitation went out from a Political Theological Action Group in Cologne, Germany:
“Love wins. Love is a blessing. People who love each other get blessed. On May 10, 2021, we invite you from 19 0’clock at the Church of St. John XXIII in Cologne for the blessing celebration for all (!) loving people. We don’t want to rule anyone out. We celebrate the diversity of different life designs and life stories and ask for God’s blessings. Absolutely without secretivity (sic) and marginalization. So ... alone or with companionship (sic), just please remember masks and the distancing rules. We are looking forward to seeing you.”
What happened last Monday was an uprising of 100 Catholic parishes (pastors and faithful) against a ban from the Vatican on blessings for gay couples. They were following a call from Liebe Gewinnt (Love Wins), an initiative that is backed by liberal Catholic theologians, priests, and other reform movements in the German Catholic Church.
I envy German Catholics and priests for this bold action against an official stand of the Catholic hierarchy that violates the law of Love. Love should always win. Pope and bishops cannot deny God’s blessings on gay couples who love each other. To do so is to absurdly dogmatize that gay couples are incapable of true love.
Yet I do not write to advocate for Catholic priests and faithful to rise up to protest the Catholic hierarchy’s refusal to bless the love that binds gay couples together.
That too, yes. But I write to advocate for Love to win on the more basic fight for justice to the poor. The Philippine Catholic Church of bishops and clergy is a Church of the upper middle and upper classes, not of the lower middle and lower classes. The faithful are guilty of letting the hierarchy and clergy get away with this.
Have you ever heard of priests concelebrating for the birthday or anniversary of poor informal-settler parishioners? Of course not. Concelebrated masses are only for the rich in their residences or hotel banquet halls.
The parish is a microcosm of the Philippines. This means that roughly 30 percent of the people within the boundaries of a parish are poor and marginalized.
Yet, what poverty alleviation programs do parishes put out? Services are limited to praying for the poor and ministering the sacraments to those who can afford the time and money to avail of them.
Human love is a spark of divine love and must win. It does with individual Catholics who love the poor in both body and soul. But as an organization, the Philippine Church seems to love only the souls of the poor.
There is a dire need for priests and faithful to move to erase this anomaly if the Church is to become truly a Christian community.