• Why are the British smacking Filipino Catholicism?


    Are the British punishing us for letting them steal Sabah from us? For permitting them to include Sabah in the Federation of Malaysia, and then forgetting to invade Malaysia?

    Are they smarting from our absentmindedness in failing to protest the training by British special forces of the first leaders and fighters of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF)?

    These questions came to mind after I encountered in succession this April and May two tough-minded pieces of British journalism that curiously took issue with Catholicism in the Philippines and its lapses and eccentricities.

    Exhibit one is a front-page story in the Guardian in London last Easter Sunday, April 3, which bore the provocative title: “Christianity is a religion for Losers.” It used as dramatic illustration the colored photograph of a Filipino devotee being nailed to a cross on Good Friday.

    Exhibit two is an interview of Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle by BBC broadcaster Stephen Sackur on the program “Hard Talk,” which was broadcast last Thursday, and which subjected the cardinal to incisive grilling on local Church issues and policies.

    I should point out that the Guardian and the BBC are two of the most prestigious media organizations in the world, with many distinctions and achievements in their respective histories.

    It was the Guardian which published the expose on the practice of the US National Security Agency of monitoring the phone conversations of 35 world leaders, after being given the scoop by whistleblower Edward Snowden.

    Love is stronger than death
    The Guardian article was written by columnist Giles Anthony Fraser. He is a priest of the Church of England. He writes a weekly Saturday column for the Guardian, and appears frequently on BBC Radio 4. He also teaches at the London School of Economics.

    The crucifixion photo is captioned: “Helpers nail one of 18 symbolic ‘Christs’ to a cross on Good Friday in San Pedro Cutud, Philippines.” There were 17 others?

    In the article, Fraser writes in a key passage:

    “In the Christian story, success and failure are inverted. The first will be last and the last first. The rich are cast down and the poor are exulted. The true king is crowned with mockery and thorns not with gold and ermine.

    “Christianity, properly understood, is a religion of losers. Ecce homo, said Pilate. Behold, the man. This is humanity.

    “But here’s the thing. The Christian story, like the best sort of terrifying psychoanalysis, strips you down to nothing in order for you to face yourself anew. For it turns out that losers are not despised or rejected, not ultimately. In fact, losers can discover something about themselves that winners cannot ever appreciate – that they are loved and wanted simply because of who they are and not because of what they achieve. That despite it all, raw humanity is glorious and wonderful, entirely worthy of love. This is revealed precisely at the greatest point of dejection. The resurrection is not a conjuring trick with bones. It is a revelation that love is stronger than death, that human worth is not indexed to worldly success.”

    I thought at first that publishing the gory photograph patronized the Filipino way of faith. But after reading Fraser’s incisive and sometimes moving column, I had second thoughts about writing the Guardian.

    Why Tagle, not Aquino?
    Cardinal Tagle’s appearance on BBC’s “Hard Talk” is a kind of Calvary in its own way. Hard Talk, as its name implies, is tough, inquisitorial and gritty.

    Stephen Sackur, the presenter and interviewer, makes Christianne Amanpour seem like a kitten in comparison.

    Sackur brings formidable credentials to his work as host of Hard Talk. He was educated at Cambridge and Harvard.

    In November 2010, he was awarded the “International TV Personality of the Year Award” by the Association of International Broadcasters.

    He served at one time as BBC Middle East Correspondent in both Cairo and Jerusalem, covering the peace process, the assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and the emergence of the Palestinian Authority under Yasser Arafat. To prepare a documentary on Islamic fundamentalism, he lived with Hezbollah guerrillas in south Lebanon for two weeks.

    In the interview with Cardinal Tagle, Sackur appeared bent on driving the Philippine Catholic Church up the wall.

    He suggested that the Church is out of tune with majority public opinion. He questioned why the Church opposes government provision of free contraceptives. Then he also questioned the Church’s opposition to divorce.

    Why Sackur zeroed in on the local church and who set him up to do this inquisition is cause for wonder. As the interview proceeded, with Sackur pouncing on his prey and the Cardinal squirming, I detected a fundamental weakness in Sackur’s line of questioning. It runs head on against our Bill of Rights which protects the right of individuals to practice their religion without government interference.

    He glosses over the fact that Filipino women are totally free to obtain and use contraception. The assertion that these products are hard to obtain or expensive is not a justification for government interference.

    Sackur was toughest when he questioned Cardinal Tagle on the fabulous wealth of the Archdiocese of Manila, of which he is head, and on alleged cases of priestly abuse of minors. He cited the accusations of an Irish priest based in the Philippines, Fr. Shay Cullen, whom the Church has never really bothered to engage in argument. He left little wiggle room for the Cardinal to wiggle. Tagle mistakenly thought that a genial and smiling manner was an answer.

    All told, the interview challenged mainly the unwavering conservatism of the Catholic Church in the Philippines, at a time when many countries are liberalizing. But this is debatable at best.

    It’s a wonder why Cardinal Tagle agreed to the interview at all, and why he didn’t seem to have a clear idea of the subject and thrust of the questioning.

    I enjoy Hard Talk a lot and generally admire Stephen’s incisive questioning. My disappointment is that in coming to Manila, he did not choose a more interesting interview subject, and a more gripping topic for inquisition.

    Why did he not pick President Aquino? On the subject of the government’s handling of the Mamasapano incident? Or on the government’s peace deal in Mindanao and the Bangsamoro?

    Aquino appearing on Hard Talk is probably as unlikely as winning the Nobel prize. Sackur will drive him nuts.

    Still, for Stephen Sackur to come all the way to Manila to discuss contraception is a huge letdown.

    My Sabah theory behind British criticism sounds more intriguing.



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    1. The British government is thought to be gregarious and law abiding is just as the Chinese did to the Philippines. The Sabah question should have settled long long time ago as part of the Philippines. Their frivolous attitude of turning over Sabah to the Malaysians is part of their commonwealth empire. The British threatened the Philippines during the Jabidah scenario of helping the Malaysian in case the Phil took Sabah by force. The Australian forces were stationed in Malaysia as part of commonwealth of the British Empire.Good that you bring to light the Judas act of the British government..

    2. Mariano Patalinjug on

      Yonkers, New York
      09 May 2015

      I am surprised that Yen Makabenta should resort to a generalization on the basis only of that article in THE GUARDIAN and the interview on BBC of Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle by Stephen Sakur. These do not amount to the ” British Smacking Filipino Catholicism,” or does it?

      The fact is that the British people and there are at least 50 million of them now are “not smacking Filipino Catholicism.”

      If BBC Stephen Sakur, in his program “Hard Talk” subjected Cardinal Tagle to “incisive grilling on local church issues and policies,” that was his business and let us not forget that Cardinal Tagle agreed to the interview.

      One of the subjects Mr. Sakur took up with the Cardinal was why the Roman Catholic Church was irreversibly against the use of contraceptives, artificial contraceptives in particular. That, I say, is a valid issue considering that the population of the Philippines is exploding at a rate which doubles it every 35 years or so, and mainly explains why there are now some 30 million Filipinos who are stuck in the quagmire of widespread and chronic Poverty, living lives of extreme degradation and dehumanization. After his recent epochal January 15-19 visit to the Philippines, and seeing with his own merciful and compassionate eyes how truly poor “poor” Filipinos were, Pope Francis “warned Catholics not to multiply like rabbits!”


      • Justaskingseriously on

        “breed like rabbits” would be the words used as far as I can gather. Actually “increase and multiply” would be very biblical as spoken by the Creator to the first couple. “and subdue the earth” continues the biblical command. (Genesis 1:28)

        You live in New York. With 195, 976, Yonkers is the 4th most populous city in the State. “most populous” sounds alarming, doesn’t it?

        Everybody has viewpoints. Rampant courruption in the Philippines as a way of life must end. This difficult route to rid the country of rampant political corruption need subduing. Sackur, I must say, went to Manila to subdue the Church. He was remiss in using his stature and respectability out of line. To me Sackur is as respectable as King Henry VIII and Oliver Cromwell who took pleasure in subduing the Catholic Church in England by letting their lust for the Church properties turn the Magna Carta that King John was forced to sign on June 15, 1215 into a scrap of garbage. The U.S. of A. was born from the British lust for taxes and propensity for controlling people’s religious ways of life. You of all people ought to realize that. If Sackur does not reflect British mentality, then Sackur would stop being respectable in his own country.

    3. Whoever the hell you are, no one is forcing you to have belief in any religion. Been reading your posts and comments a few months back and never you did give a neutral comment but rather criticize the writers, the commenters insisting with your bullying opinion. Nobody needs to preach you cause you don’t have religion. Just stick to what you believe without maligning anybody. Also, am quite sure you are at a lost as your name suggests: DUSTin the wind, meaning no direction. Bully you!!!

    4. I am shocked that Yen sees the priest’s article as a smack to Filipino Catholicism. The priest writes: “In fact, losers can discover something about themselves that winners cannot ever appreciate – that they are loved and wanted simply because of who they are and not because of what they achieve. That despite it all, raw humanity is glorious and wonderful, entirely worthy of love. This is revealed precisely at the greatest point of dejection.” There is redemption in being a loser, in this sense.

    5. genesisbughaw on

      In the context sharing:

      This article appears in the December 23, 2011 issue of Executive Intelligence Review. REFLECTIONS ON A WORK BY NICHOLAS OF CUSA:The Strategic Situation Nowby Lyndon H. LaRouche, Jr.November 29, 2011

      part of which reads;

      “…This has been experienced as oligarchical self-damnations such as the ancient Peloponnesian War, or of the Satanic hues of ancient Babylon, or of the wicked effects of the poisoning of Alexander the Great at the prompting of Aristotle, and, also, the successive waves of a recurring Roman Empire of, first, Rome, then Byzantium, and then the Venetian rule over the pestilence of the so-called “crusaders,” and, presently, the New Venetian Party of William of Orange, which paved the way for the British version of the Roman imperial system of today. All these have tended to prevent any ostensibly competent modern historian from bringing forth even a single principle of the culture of ancient through modern European civilization. Such attempts at civilization as those, have each been not as much a culture, as much as it has been a reflection of a recurring, see-saw battle for the reign of an evil which is contrary to the intended true nature of our human species. All this has been contrary to a continuing battle for the good, a battle which has resisted, but not always successfully, the tyrannies typified by the specific oligarchical evil of the model of the British imperial monarchy of today.
      So, the genius of Cardinal Nicholas of Cusa, who inspired the trans-oceanic emergence of what would be included as the becoming of our United States in North America, typifies the unique achievement of the creation of our own United States of America, but, on the other side of history, there has been the recurring evil which has often ruined our wonderful republic through the continuing existence of the Romantic evil known as the British empire. Cusa’s De Docta Ignorantia remains today the model for trans-Atlantic designs of anti-imperialist, anti-monetarist systems spread throughout the world at large. There should be nothing considered as an inevitably evil outcome in the record of evil marked out by the recurring moral failures of the Mediterranean region in particular. It has been a moral sickness, a pestilence rightly identified as “oligarchism,” which has been chiefly responsible for the evil effects in European cultures so far. What has cursed the nations of Europe during most of their periods of existence thus far, has been a single principle of corruption, the corruption best identified as “the oligarchical principle” which has been typified by such manifestations as the Peloponnesian War, as the great dramatic historian Aeschylus has exhibited the relevant evidence on that tragedy and its outcome. Is “Oligarchism” “Satan Worship?”…
      for more please visit:http://www.larouchepub.com/lar/2011/3850reflections_on_cusa.html

    6. Yen, you speak of an article in a newspaper like it was british policy. Its an article written by a reporter as he sees it. Take myself im niot religious at all but i think more of others than most filipinos. Ive seen adults walk past small children struggleing to carry heavy water containers. Just the same with elderly women struggleing to carry heavy water containers. I hlped them they didnt. Thats just a small piece. Now you talk of nailing to the cross, well tell me do you think thaoese guys nailed to crosses are good christians. Ill tell you they are idiots. Tell them to get a job & go to work everyday to provide for their families. Most here preach religion but dont practice it. Look at the obsession with filipinos & cock fighting. do you think if there is a god he would approve or if jesus was here right now he would approve. I dont. Look how many filipiunos have no feelings whatsoever for animals & how many are just down right cruel to them. So please dont preach to me about how good you & your catholic religion is. It reminds me of a line from a dish called wanda, where otto says apes dont read philosophy, & the reply oh yes they do they just dont understand it. That reminds me so much of religion & the filipino.

      • Justaskingseriously on

        Two separate British exhibits. A: written article on the Guardian. B: TV “hard talk” on BBC.

        You only responded to A. And you seem to be saying that Yen is preaching. Actually Yen held off on responding in writing to the Guardian. The columnist, Giles Anthony Fraser, is a priest of the Anglican Church. Besides being an Economist, he also knows evangelical Economics. While success in the worldly economics is for winners, success in the spiritual economics is for losers. Jesus was a definite loser in the eyes of the Roman Empire. As seen by British imperial aristocrats, Filipinos are definitely losers for sticking to their faith, particularly for imitating Jesus’ crucifixion. On a serious but ironic topic: Mayweather is now calling Manny not only a loser but also a coward. Makes one wonder what prompted Money (success) to look down on Manny Pacquiao (Manny = Emmanuel = God is with us). Let’s hear your thoughts on this; boxing seems to be your favorite topic as I gather from your previous comments.

        Yen focuses his presuppositions on the motives of BBC’s presenter and interviewer, Stephen Sackur. He is not preaching. As a columnist, Yen is presenting his take on what-on-earth prompted Sackur to touch on religious issues with Cardinal Tagle of Manila with such vitriol. A respectable interviewer on “Hard Talk” should have engaged the political powers for the hard issues. Sackur’s respectability is lost in his lack of respect for the free exercise of one’s religion as enshrined in the Constitution. It takes a lot of restraint not to think back to the time of King Henry VIII and Oliver Cromwell in the 1530s and onwards to this day: pilgrims running away from England to the New World where they could freely practice their faith.

        It certainly makes me wonder if Sackur came all the way to Manila to exact payback from Cardinal Tagle for not lending his “presence” to the Peace Council. It certainly gives credence to the british imperial Eminence grise via Malaysia through the MILF– exactly what Yen is saying. That is not preaching; that is serious political interference by a foreign power in the affairs of a sovereign nation, however lowly, like the Philippines. Eminence grise refers to the powerful puppeteer that is manipulating Malaysia and the MILF to carve Mindanao territory in the guise of negotiating for “peace”. In this endeavor, the filipino politicians that are pro-BBL can be regarded as traitors. Sackur did not sack any filipino politician: on orders from the Eminence grise?

        Are you still a British citizen or have you applied for naturalization? Where is your allegiance? You have chosen to remain quiet on exhibit B. Do you know more than what you have not said? Your silence could be presumed a yes.

    7. Yen , did you inquire ,at all,as to find out if Stephen Sackur tried to arrange an interview with Aquino ?? Also you say , in relation to contraceptives , ” The assertion that these products are hard to obtain or expensive is not a justification for Government interference.” Why is it not ??? It is one thing to say That Filipino women are free to take contraceptives , but another to make them freely accessible. The very people who need family planning the most are the poor and the vulnerable , but these are the very ones who find it most difficult to obtain contraceptives !!! It may not be the best thing for the Catholic Church but the Philippines need to have a good and working Family Planning Policy.

      • Justaskingseriously on

        The self-evident questions are:: Is it the government’s duty to help the contraceptive industry? Aren’t the people’s taxes mishandled enough by unscrupulous bureaucrats and politicians? Wouldn’t it be another mishandling of the taxes by putting people on the sexual welfare rolls? And isn’t it already being done anyway by the bureaucrats at the Health Department as part of the CCT? CCT can also stand for closed circuit television: the poor are subjected to close monitoring as a Condition for the Cash Transfer. You are right. It is not the best thing for the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church happens to be the very same poor people on the welfare lists. The Catholic Church is people. Article II, Section 6 “The separation of Church and State shall be inviolable.” Violation of this constitutional provision can be justified in the guise of helping the poor? Tell it to Judas Iscariot who said that Mary Magdalene wasted her expensive perfume by pouring it on the feet of Jesus instead of selling it to help the poor. What did Jesus say? “The poor you will always have with you.” (Mark 14:7)

        Used properly and honestly, the people’s taxes are designed to help everybody lead a decent life with their dignity enhanced. Acts 2:42-45 – The early Church found no one in need; everybody shared and took only what they needed. The filipino trait of pakikisama can be a natural vehicle for this type of sharing as what is happening in the lives of the religious orders (Divine Word Missionaries, Franciscans, Oblates, Claretians, and many more). Pakikisama has been turned on its head by corruption: instead of sharing together, it has come to mean being “corrupt” (sama) together. ” Everybody does it” becomes an easy enough excuse to join in. The love of money is indeed the root of all evil.