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RELIGION: Anti-clericalism in the Philippines



Anti-clericalism is a curious phenomenon. I was shocked at its prevalence in Catholic Spain when I arrived there in 1931. In Catholic Italy likewise it is part of the history of its unification in the nineteenth century. I have never been to the Philippines, but it is prevalent there, at least among intellectuals, to judge by by this message from Bienvenido Macario, who bolsters his case with documentation. Our posting part of it does not mean that we agree with his angry philippic (an appropriate pun). He says, citing a Philippine newspaper:

"The news item cites the warning by a "Civil" society headed, of course by a Catholic priest, in this case Fr. Joe Dizon, who is warning President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo of the consequences "if the administration fails to grant workers the P125 (per day) wage hike..." I believe in organized labor; they have then discipline and the wisdom not to be used by social forces bent on totalitarian control.

Louis Farrakhan, leader of the US based Muslim sect Nation of Islam, was reported to have filed before the English judicial court a motion to lift the ban on his setting foot on British soil. About seven years ago, he was ordered banned from Great Britain because he risks causing civil disorder and inciting riots with his inflammatory speeches. Often Farrakhan speaks in racist tones directed against Jews and other non-Muslim minorities. Now he is invoking human rights and religious freedom.

The Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints, more commonly known as Mormons, once were outlawed. The Federal government objected to the Mormons' acceptance and practice of polygamy. The Mormons recognized and included polygamy in their official doctrine, a practice deemed illegal. Until the Mormon Church officially renounced polygamy, it was outlawed in the United States. Church officials turn a blind eye on members practicing polygamy, since they do not have the obligation to report them to federal authorities. How is it that the Catholic Church can impose on its clergy unrealistic and unenforceable laws such as poverty and celibacy? What is the possibility of declaring the Catholic Church illegal and banning it from the Philippines? How does a country like the Philippines or Mexico attain a status like England, capable of banning religious demagogues, old and new alike?

Ronald Hilton - 7/22/01


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