The Harmful, Corruptive Influence of the Church

By Atty. Emmanuel Q. Fernando
Law & Philosophy Matters
The Manila Times

By insisting upon playing a dominant political role, the Catholic Church has set into motion harmful, corruptive influences detrimental to constitutional democracy and the rule of law. Indeed, this is precisely the reason why Philippine politics is beset by its present predicament of a nation careening towards the political status of a banana republic.

The much-lauded and highly-acclaimed intrusion by the Catholic Church into political affairs was the Edsa Uno phenomenon, when Cardinal Sin exhorted the concerned citizenry to mass at Edsa to form a protective shield around the beleaguered forces of coup plotters Minister of Defense Juan Ponce Enrile and Vice Chief of Staff General Fidel Ramos.

That intrusion averted much bloodshed. A peaceful resolution of the coup d’etat resulted, with the eventual airlifting of President Marcos out of Malacañang Palace to the joyous celebration of the millions massed at Edsa and the entire mesmerized world.

But that intrusion occasioned a chain of events which sent the Philippines reeling towards its present predicament. For succeeding governments were no better than President Marcos’ administration; human rights abuses and violations abounded, while corruption remained unabated.

What is worse, Filipinos soon saw the hopelessness of resorting to normal democratic processes in order to secure reform and became convinced that people power was again needed. Still and all, people power demonstrations came and went without success, until President Joseph Estrada and Edsa Dos. [...]

The Church, with its meddling into political affairs, is much to blame for this unique Philippine predicament. It shunned neutrality and took political sides. Rather than exposing or criticizing corruption whoever the culprit, it focused only on the wrongdoings of its enemies while quick to tolerate, if not defend, the wrongdoing of its allies.

This bias and partiality are not lost on the discerning Philippine public who accept the Church, not as a moral guide, but as a powerful political force fearful of losing political clout and influence. Church credibility thus is at an all-time low, so that its predicament is much like that of the Middle Eastern fundamentalist clergy who denounce the terrorism of the United States while turning a blind eye to the terrorism of its own. [...]

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