Sunday, May 22, 2016

Is the Catholic Church the most hypocritical institution? A reply to Mayor Duterte

"The most hypocritical institution is the Catholic Church."--Mayor Duterte. Photo credits: Malacanang Photo Bureau and CBCP News.

We read in Philippine Star regarding Duterte's tirades against the Catholic Church:
"You have been castigating me or criticizing me -- you want a debate before I become president? Okay! Sinong lahat ng bishops d'yan, tumindig kayo. I will tell you the sins of the Catholic Church beginning from the time the institution of the papacy was established," Duterte said. "I will lecture until June 29 the sins of the Catholic Church, and whether or not you are still relevant. Alam mo, the most hypocritical institution is the Catholic Church," he added. "If I start to name the bishops who got married or about the women in their lives, sasabog itong [simbahang] Katoliko," he said. "Do not think you are the moralizing agents of the society. As long as you are a human being, you are up to fall down... You're all pageantry." He also accused some Catholic bishops of asking favors from the administration of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. (Philippine Star)
 
Duterte's hatred against the Catholic Church runs deep.

In the earlier post, I showed that it is impossible for Mayor Duterte to say that he believes in God but not in religion. In this new post, we shall tackle the second statement: whether the Catholic Church is the most hypocritical institution.

A. JESUS CONDEMNS THE PHARISEES AS HYPOCRITES

To label religious authorities as hypocrites is not new. In fact, it was Christ who denounced the Pharisees, the religious authorities at that time in Israel, as hypocrites:
  • “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You lock the kingdom of heaven* before human beings. You do not enter yourselves, nor do you allow entrance to those trying to enter. [14]* (Mt 23:13)
  • 15* “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You traverse sea and land to make one convert, and when that happens you make him a child of Gehenna twice as much as yourselves.  (Mt 23:15)
  • j “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You pay tithes* of mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier things of the law: judgment and mercy and fidelity. [But] these you should have done, without neglecting the others. 24* k Blind guides, who strain out the gnat and swallow the camel! (Mt 23:23-24)
  • 25* l “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You cleanse the outside of cup and dish, but inside they are full of plunder and self-indulgence. 26Blind Pharisee, cleanse first the inside of the cup, so that the outside also may be clean. (Mt 23:25-26)
  • 27* “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You are like whitewashed tombs, which appear beautiful on the outside, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and every kind of filth. 28m Even so, on the outside you appear righteous, but inside you are filled with hypocrisy and evildoing. (Mt 23:27-28)
  • 29* “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees,* you hypocrites. You build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the memorials of the righteous, 30n and you say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our ancestors, we would not have joined them in shedding the prophets’ blood.’ 31o Thus you bear witness against yourselves that you are the children of those who murdered the prophets; 32now fill up what your ancestors measured out! 33p You serpents, you brood of vipers, how can you flee from the judgment of Gehenna? (Mt 23:29-32)
In summary, Jesus called the Pharisees hypocrites for the following reasons:
  • They make religious laws for ordinary people that they themselves cannot abide
  • They try hard to convert people to the truths of religion, but ended up making evil men out of their converts
  • They focus on the trivialities and external observances of the law, yet lose sight of the weightier things, such as judgment, mercy, and fidelity
  • They make themselves appear to be honest and impeccable, yet really corrupt in actual life
  • They honor the prophets, yet they are children of those who killed the prophets.
Does this sound like our Catholic bishops and priests in the Philippines? Mayor Duterte's guess is as good as yours and mine.


B. THE CHAIRS OF THE JUDGES

1. Moses and the Levitical Priests

So what does Christ recommend to the Israelites on how to deal with the Pharisees for all their hypocrisy? Jesus said:
The scribes and the Pharisees have taken their seat on the chair of Moses. 3Therefore, do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you, but do not follow their example. For they preach but they do not practice. (Mt 23:2)
Before Israel was ruled by Kings, the country was ruled by judges and levitical priests who knows the Law of Moses:
If there is a case for judgment which proves too baffling for you to decide, in a matter of bloodshed or of law or of injury, matters of dispute within your gates, you shall then go up to the place which the LORD, your God, will choose, 9to the levitical priests or to the judge who is in office at that time. They shall investigate the case and then announce to you the decision.h 10You shall act according to the decision they announce to you in the place which the LORD will choose, carefully observing everything as they instruct you. 11You shall carry out the instruction they give you and the judgment they pronounce, without turning aside either to the right or left from the decision they announce to you. 12Anyone who acts presumptuously and does not obey the priest* who officiates there in the ministry of the LORD, your God, or the judge, shall die. Thus shall you purge the evil from Israel. 13And all the people, on hearing of it, shall fear, and will never again act presumptuously.i (Deut 7:8-13)
Notice here that God condemns the contempt of court under the penalty of death in the Old Testament:
Contempt of court, often referred to simply as "contempt", is the offense of being disobedient to or disrespectful towards a court of law and its officers in the form of behavior that opposes or defies authority, justice, and dignity of the court.[1][2] It manifests itself in willful disregard of or disrespect for the authority of a court of law, which is often behavior that is illegal because it does not obey or respect the rules of a law court. (Wikipedia: Contempt of Court)
2. The Bishops as the successors of Peter and the Apostles

In the New Testament, Peter and the Apostles serve as the judges of the New Israel, which is the Church. As Christ said:
Amen, I say to you that you who have followed me, in the new age, when the Son of Man is seated on his throne of glory, will yourselves sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. ()
Peter is the first Pope and the Apostles are the first bishops. All bishops of the Catholic Church can trace their spiritual lineage from one of the Apostles through the laying of hands, e.g. Timothy became a bishop (c.f. 1Tim 3:1) through St. Paul:
For this reason, I remind you to stir into flame the gift of God* that you have through the imposition of my hands.d 7For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather of power and love and self-control.e 8So do not be ashamed of your testimony to our Lord,* nor of me, a prisoner for his sake; but bear your share of hardship for the gospel with the strength that comes from God.f (2 Tim:1:6-8)
Similarly, all popes trace their spiritual lineage from the Peter, the first Bishop of Rome. For example, Pope Francis is the 266th Bishop of Rome. He succeeds Peter as the Vicar of Christ.

Because the Church is a human institution, the bishops are human beings too who can fall into sin. And even Popes can fall into sin. Here's a sample list from the Borgia Popes:
  • Nepotism. On 20 February 1456, Callixtus III elevated two of his nephews to the cardinalate. The first of them was Rodrigo de Borja ("Borgia" in Italian) who later became Pope Alexander VI (1492–1503), infamous for his alleged corruption and immorality.[10] The second was Luis Julian de MilĂ . (Wikipedia: Pope Callixtus III)
  • Mistresses. Of Alexander's many mistresses the one for whom passion lasted longest was Vannozza (Giovanna) dei Cattanei, born in 1442, and wife of three successive husbands. The connection began in 1470, and she had four children whom he openly acknowledged as his own: Cesare (born 1475), Giovanni, afterwards duke of Gandia (born 1476), Lucrezia (born 1480), and Goffredo or Giuffre (born 1481 or 1482). (Wikipedia: Pope Alexander VI)
So if Duterte says that he will " name the bishops who got married or about the women in their lives", you can bet that such things can happen, for even at least one Pope in history has such infamy.

3. Papal Infallibility vs Papal Impeccability

The dogma of Papal Infallibility is not equivalent to Papal Impeccability.

Impeccability is sinlessness, which is attributed Christ and the Blessed Virgin Mary (c.f. Dogma of Immaculate Conception). Popes also sin, since even Peter denied Christ three times (c.f Lk 22:54-61).

Infallibility, on the other hand, is the incapability of teaching error, and if applied to the Pope becomes an incapability of teaching error in matters of faith and morals. As the Catechism says:
889 In order to preserve the Church in the purity of the faith handed on by the apostles, Christ who is the Truth willed to confer on her a share in his own infallibility. By a "supernatural sense of faith" the People of God, under the guidance of the Church's living Magisterium, "unfailingly adheres to this faith."417

890 The mission of the Magisterium is linked to the definitive nature of the covenant established by God with his people in Christ. It is this Magisterium's task to preserve God's people from deviations and defections and to guarantee them the objective possibility of professing the true faith without error. Thus, the pastoral duty of the Magisterium is aimed at seeing to it that the People of God abides in the truth that liberates. To fulfill this service, Christ endowed the Church's shepherds with the charism of infallibility in matters of faith and morals. The exercise of this charism takes several forms:

891 "The Roman Pontiff, head of the college of bishops, enjoys this infallibility in virtue of his office, when, as supreme pastor and teacher of all the faithful - who confirms his brethren in the faith he proclaims by a definitive act a doctrine pertaining to faith or morals. . . . The infallibility promised to the Church is also present in the body of bishops when, together with Peter's successor, they exercise the supreme Magisterium," above all in an Ecumenical Council.418 When the Church through its supreme Magisterium proposes a doctrine "for belief as being divinely revealed,"419 and as the teaching of Christ, the definitions "must be adhered to with the obedience of faith."420 This infallibility extends as far as the deposit of divine Revelation itself.421 (Catechism of the Catholic Church)
The Dogma of Papal infallibility is rooted on the words of Christ to Peter:
“Simon, Simon, behold Satan has demanded to sift all of you* like wheat,s 32but I have prayed that your own faith may not fail; and once you have turned back, you must strengthen your brothers.” (Lk 22:31-32)


C.  PHILIPPINE BISHOPS VS DUTERTE

1. Bishops comment on Duterte's rape remark

We recall some of what the bishops wrote wrote regarding Duterte's controversial rape remark, "Dapat mayor ang mauna":
  • Archbishop Socrates Villegas: "Judge for yourself if this is the right choice. I will keep my personal judgment to myself. This video can help you see.
  • Archbishop Jose Palma: “When we elect people in power, we expect them to serve, but at the same time they should also relate with other people in many parts of world...What if this kind of joke will spread to other people from different parts of the world? Can we feel at ease with that kind of person?...Are we happy with what he (Duterte) said? Do we agree with it? Some say it’s OK. Other say otherwise.... The future of our country depends on the votes we make. The electorate should discern and decide. That is where the power of the ballots come"
  • Bishop Deogracias Iniguez: "It would be good to know what is in the video to help them in deciding.... I think that’s what we lack. We really don’t know the candidates that we are voting for."
  • Archbishop Emeritus Oscar Cruz: “Crass and crude...I cannot say that he is a bad person but definitely he does not belong to the people with good manners and right conduct." 
Archbishop Villegas also wrote earlier in his Facebook profile (it appears his FB account is gone for good for reasons we know not):
The usual face of corruption that we recognize easily is stealing from public funds. Corruption, like a monster, is a devil with many faces. Killing people is corruption. Killing is a crime and a sin whether it is done by criminals or public officials no matter what the intention. Adultery is corruption. It makes married love cheap and uses people for pleasure. Adultery corrupts the family; it destroys children and victimizes the weak. Vulgarity is corruption. When we find vulgarity funny, we have really become beastly and barbaric as a people. When a revered and loved and admired man like Pope Francis is cursed by a political candidate and the audience laugh, I can only bow my head and grieve in great shame. My countrymen has gone to the dregs.
Is this the leadership by example that Mayor Duterte excites in us? Is this the leadership by example that makes a public official deserving of the title “Honorable”? I grieve for my country....! (see Monk's Hobbit)
2. Teaching Authority of Bishops

Regarding the bishops who campaigned against someone like Duterte, because he is morally unfit for the presidency, Art. 892 of the Catechism applies:
892 Divine assistance is also given to the successors of the apostles, teaching in communion with the successor of Peter, and, in a particular way, to the bishop of Rome, pastor of the whole Church, when, without arriving at an infallible definition and without pronouncing in a "definitive manner," they propose in the exercise of the ordinary Magisterium a teaching that leads to better understanding of Revelation in matters of faith and morals. To this ordinary teaching the faithful "are to adhere to it with religious assent"422 which, though distinct from the assent of faith, is nonetheless an extension of it. (Catechism of the Catholic Church)

E. CONCLUSIONS

Duterte may be right: the Catholic Church may be the most hypocritical institution, for while it preaches as it claims to be the moralizing agent of society, it is also subject to sin and corruption.  "As long as you are a human being, you are up to fall down," Duterte said. And this applies not only to him, but also to the bishops as well and to all of us. But if we ponder on the words of Christ regarding the scribes and Pharisees, perhaps we can also make a similar rule regarding the Pope and the bishops:
The Pope and the Bishops have taken their seats on the chairs of Peter and the Apostles. 3Therefore, do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you, but do not follow their example. For they preach but they do not practice. (c.f. Mt 23:2)
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