• Pope Francis is a prophet ignored in our country


    In his return to Latin America, Pope Francis spoke with fervor and passion about a lot of global issues , mostly focused on economic and social injustice. The passion and intensity of his speeches were such that journalists who covered that trip described them as statements that blended “ biblical fury with apocalyptic doom.” But here is the problem : Without a patience to explore and read other news sources , a Filipino Catholic who makes it a point to learn more about Pope Francis would have missed much of what he talked about in his visit to his native land .

    The answer is obvious. True, the Philippine press made a huge play of his statement against corruption , which he called as a “ gangrene of a people.” In the major Philippine dailies , that statement against corruption merited a banner headline , the top story. The most important issues he talked about, the more forceful ones, however, were given minor or perfunctory play in the Philippine media , items near the obit pages. Or totally ignored. So Filipinos who relied on the Philippine media to learn what Pope Francis talked about in Latin America missed a lot of things. His Latin American trip was not really a global trip focused on the need to stamp out the evils of corruption but was focused on a more pressing and urgent issue .

    What topic then dominated his speeches in Latin America? His critique of global capitalism and the resultant inequalities. Here, the “ biblical fury and apocalyptic doom” really met. He described global capitalism as the underlying cause of global injustice. He described excessive, freewheeling capitalism as the “ dung of the devil.” And a “ subtle dictatorship that condemns and enslaves men and women.”

    Pope Francis’s call for a “ global movement” against a form of “ new colonialism” – his most forceful and recurring call – was ignored by the media here in this only Catholic country of Asia because of one sad reality. ( He made that call over and over again that seemed – but not really – to blend with Marxist strain of Catholicism in some of the countries he visited. ) That message does not get any traction here. There is no mass audience for such universally discussed issues here.

    Pope Francis is the head of our Church yet his call for equality and fairness and his indictment of the capitalist class is taboo here . Despite our Catholic faith and having a pope who fights for the exploited, our deepest admiration and reverence go to the capitalist class, the rich and the super rich. The pope, we have to point this out, be damned. The fact that we are a vastly unequal society does not at all diminish our disproportionate admiration for the super wealthy.

    We only love Pope Francis nominally and at a very superficial level. On display of physical adoration , we can be over-the-top, just look at the crowds that welcomed him here in his recent visit. But as a prophet who tells us lessons on fairness and justice and what kind of economic arrangement would result in a better world , we completely ignore him and his messages. Our editors will not write a headline that says “ capitalism: “ dung of the devil.” The corporate owners will fire them the next day. And the public will support the firing because of the public adores the capitalist class .

    Again, this is the sad reality in the Philippine context: Calling free market capitalism “ the dung of the devil” is the equivalent of blasphemy here .

    The Filipinos will chug along as the only dominant Catholics that revere Pope Francis on an skin-deep basis. Even if it is in the interest of the poor majority to precisely demand from polity the very same policies that Pope Francis wants to reign in the new order : tempered capitalism , the reining in of corporate greed , policies aimed at redistributing resources to bridge the rich-poor gap.

    Or something as basic as decent wages for the workingman. Or, a cash transfer program that is four to five percent of the yearly national budget.

    The political and economic elites are just too happy with the Filipino mind-set. Where people ignore Pope Francis’s messages and are just too contended with exuberant rich-worship, nothing will push the elites into shifting the governing paradigms.

    The happiest man, of course, is President Aquino .

    In his five years as president, we have pointed this out several times, Mr. Aquino has presided over the surge of Filipino dollar billionaires, those rich enough to buy small and insignificant countries. Those who-can-buy-a-small country-rich. The 11 million families living below the poverty line and the close to 6 million families that have not seen the inside of a decent home have been invisible to him, non-constituents in fact.

    Mr. Aquino has had the best of both worlds: Catering to his constituency , the “ creators, ” and bludgeoning the “ moochers,” without peril to his leadership. Without igniting an “ Arab Spring” or an “Occupy Wall Street.”

    Where the mind-set and aspirations of a people run counter to their self-interest, Pope Francis’s messages are a whistle in the dark.


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    1. Chaity begins at home. The farmers in hacienda Luisita is the home of this parasite president. Aquino and his family killed them all farmers polycy istheir business.

    2. Wow, amazing, so full of passion, frustration, and sadness. You hit it on the nail. I myself have noticed your observations. We are a very shallow people. Perhaps, it is the reason why Filipinos smile a lot, even in adversity, because we are very sense-oriented, not given to cerebral exercise. Thus we remain at the level of children, naive and innocent, easy to fool by the elites and the politicians. So sad really.

      • What do you expect from a population, 40% illiterate or functional literates? They were not given the opportunity of education. Most of them only finished Grade 4 . Many did not even step inside a classroom.This is the fault of politicians who want the people to remain gullible so easy to manipulate especially during election time. Education was never the priority of this and previous administrations.

    3. Yet one can argue the Vatican is perhaps the richest nation on earth… holding countless priceless treasures …if auctioned off to private collectors they could feed the poor for a hundred years …or channeled properly they could alleviate poverty worldwide…

      • Justaskingseriously on

        Have you been to the Vatican? What did you see? How small do you suppose the Vatican is? How do you propose to sell the works of Michelangelo painted on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel? The art treasures are found in museums of colonial countries like England and France. But then the whole issue is not really art treasures. It is the unbridled capitalism perpetrated by wealthy countries with museums. You need to rethink the whole issue of the Vatican being so wealthy. It is just the Vatican Hill where the Pope held out during the unification of Italy when the Italians even tried to seize the Vatican after seizing all the papal states that gave the impression for centuries how wealthy the Pope had been. Had it not been for the principle that the Pope does not belong only to Italians but to the whole world, the Pope would not have holed himself up in the Vatican until Mussolini agreed with the Pope to make the Vatican an independent nation in 1929. The Pope is the Bishop of the Diocese of Rome, but the Vatican is only part of the city of Rome. That is how tiny the Vatican is.

    4. P.Akialamiro on

      How can we expect to be hit by the statements of the Pope when even our so called leaders lead the ‘materialisric’ attitude and greed of the Filipinos. They try to outdo each other without contentment. The private sector is no exception.

      Along this, Filipinos are more concerned with what their fellow mortals say about them than what they think of themselves deep inside. As a result, there’s so much hypocricy in the country. There’s so much ‘show offs’ at the expense of realities.

      There should be a revolution of culture! But, the problem, who will lead?