Carlos Celdran is a celebrity Manila tour guide and a staunch advocate of the controversial Reproductive Health Bill, which the Catholic Church completely condemns. On September 30, 2010, Celdran was arrested for staging a protest during a mass at the Manila Cathedral.
This event made me review my thesis back in college which was about the ideological power of the Catholic Church as manifested in the EDSA People Power events. I used genealogy or Philippine church history to prove my problem statement that the Catholic Church is a potent social force effective in swaying the public to its volition.
History can attest to the powerful influence of the Catholic Church in Philippine society. In the olden days, it is said that the parish priest would whisper to the ear of a dying parishioner to have his properties donated to the church for a sure place in heaven.
In 1717, a friar-led revolt resulted to the murder of Governor General Fernando Bustamante, which Felix Resurreccion-Hidalgo immortalized in a huge canvas that is now displayed at the National Gallery. Historians reported that Bustamante had enforced the law, pursued, arrested, and often violated the sanctuary offered by the Catholic Church to corrupt officials resulting to his excommunication.
In the 300 years of Spanish colonization of the Philippines, the church and the state walked hand-in-hand in running the country. The separation of Church and State was introduced during the Aguinaldo Government and became firm during the American period.
The 1986 and 2001 EDSA People Power revolt has catapulted the Catholic Church as a strong political force capable of bringing about social change. Church leaders have been criticized by many because of their involvement in a jurisdiction not belonging in their sphere –Politics.
We have disagreed with how our church leaders behaved and how they used their power in influencing politics. But we remain faithful and respectful to our religion and the sacredness of the Holy Mass. We go to church to pray and to have a moment with God. Celdran desecrated our place of worship and that is unacceptable. But Celdran has already apologized for the method he used to gain attention. We hope this will not happen again.
Our church leaders on the other hand, should take this event as a warning. The faithful has become critical and practical. They are no longer the indios that Padre Damaso can bully and threaten with eternal damnation.