Monday, August 18, 2008

Why is RP Poor? Catholicism is the Reason?

You want to be "IN"? Blame Catholicism for our country's woes.

This post is a response to the post of (almost) the same title at In that post, Jerome Nadal makes five arguments as to why the Philippines is poor, and somehow attributes those arguments to Catholicism.

This post isn't going to be long (hopefully), but let me summarize Jerome's arguments as follows:

1. Filipinos are taught (by the Church) to "hate himself and the world."

I cannot relate with this statement. A Catholic, and every so-called Christian for this matter, is taught about Faith and Repentance. Faith in God, first, then repentance. The purpose of repentance is to reconcile one's self with God, whom one has faith in. So, faith and repentance are two sides of the same coin. It's about union with God who creates man and the world. One can't reconcile one's self with himself and the world if he is taught to "hate himself and the world."

Is it because Jerome got his information wrong? Or, is it because Jerome has gotten it wrong in his mind?

2. A Filipino seeks to "save himself" from the world by "escaping from it" with a "sense of powerlessness."

How can one "escape" from the world that God created? Why would one want to escape from it? How can one feel powerless when Catholicism teaches union with God? I cannot relate with the argument. I am lost as to where the thinking comes from. Filipinos are known to travel to the ends of the earth to shape a new reality for his family. Is that escapism? Is that having a sense of powerlessness?

3. A Filipino holds a concept of salvation "that seeks to transform this present, real world so that there can be justice, freedom and abundance."

Very true. What's wrong with that?

4. The Filipino "sees life as something that happens to him (not something that he can make happen).

This can be true to most Filipinos, having been suppressed for hundreds of years by foreign colonizers. This is a process we have to go through. We have to start reclaiming our stake in the Universe our God created.

Catholicism may have been here for 400+ years, but is it correct to say that being fatalistic is the teaching of the Catholic Church? I grew up under Jesuit education, and what they taught me was farthest from what Jerome is claiming the Church is teach. To believe in God is to believe in an all-powerful God, who created us in His image and likeness. Filipinos have to claim that. That's the real teaching of the Catholic Church.

5. The so-called "preferential option for the poor," says Jerome, "condemns the rich as 'sinners.' Thus, no development happens."

The Catholic Church does not condemn the rich. It reminds the rich to share their riches with the poor. Now, for the poor to just lie down and wait for the graces to knock his door is farthest from Church teachings. Look at the parable of the talents, the ten lepers of whom only one thanked the Lord. So, even as the Church reminds the rich to share their riches, it teaches the poor to be grateful and not demanding. When the rich share and the poor are grateful, that's the kind of development the Church envisions.

Catholicism is a very liberating religion. It's the wrong understanding of Filipinos about Catholicism, and Christianity in general, that's the problem. The solution lies in educating one's self, by drawing out what one understands, and checking out with the Church if that indeed is the teaching.

Blaming per se does not get us anywhere, whether one is blaming the Church, the government, the ancestors, one's color, one's neighborhood, etc. The Church is there to show the way, but one has to do the walking.

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