Monday, March 07, 2011

Crock for the flock: The official communication strategy of the Roman Catholic Church

How I choose to exercise my spirituality is a personal matter. However, what can be readily observed from the ideas I make public in what I write and what I say to family in friends makes evident my lack of respect for the Roman Catholic Church. I do not differentiate between individual officers within this institution. If a person sees himself or herself as an officer of this institution (a priest, a brother, a nun, or whatever title that implies position within its hierarchy), it pre-supposes his or her adherence to its dogma. So to the argument "not all priests think like that" whenever another instance of moronic ideas propagated by the Church makes headline news, I say I don't think so.

Priests and nuns took a vow of obedience when they became priests and nuns. And with regard to the ideas that are espoused by the Church's top brass to whom these priests are duty-bound to obey, Catholic dogma is quite categorical on many things that we are led to believe to be "debatable". Quite simply, for example, fornicators (and even those who merely think of engaging in it) commit "mortal sin". That does not leave much room for the ordinary person in the "debate", doesn't it? Catholic dogma is peppered with similar absolutes -- tenets that are non-negotiable. As such, any semblance of the Church engaging in "discussion" or "consultation" with secular entities comes across to me as mere insults to the intelligence of its "flock".

Crock for the flock.

This is the official communication strategy of the Roman Catholic Church.

There is no point in debating with people who merely pretend to debate. Why bother differentiating Father Juan from Father Jose? At the end of the day (with apologies to those who hate that cliché), they are all officers of the Church and, being so, are subject to its membership rules -- all of which are documented in black and white.

We love to describe ourselves as a people who remain vigilant lest the forces of tyranny take us over once again. And yet our society and culture revolve around an institution that is fundamentally unmoved by free-inquiry -- the Roman Catholic Church. Even at the height of his rule, former President Ferdinand Marcos -- the Filipino's favourite bad guy -- listened to the needs of Filipinos or, at the very least, was affected by their sentiment. Former President Gloria Arroyo too, that other favourite Pinoy bad guy, ultimately was subject to the "people's will" both in stepping down as President in a legitimate election and ascending to a House seat by similar virtue of The Vote.

Compare this to the the Catholic Church. Here is an institution that bypasses all civil forums for debate and consultation and unashamedly uses its 2000-year-old fear capital to hold the minds of its constituents hostage. At best it is not too different from the typical modus operandi of our garden-variety dictators and at worst it makes these dictators look like Mother Theresa.

Indeed, the Church's power is derived from a perception that it holds sole authority over the nature of what one should believe in order to avoid eternal damnation. The Church has, as a matter of fact, shown an historic inclination to kill people who harbour and disseminate ideas that threaten this perception. Perhaps it has since evolved in its approach to protecting the basis of its awesome power. But the intent is still there.

I've noticed how immense personal and political bandwidth had already been wasted keeping the Church in the loop with regard to "debate" on reproductive health in the Philippines. The initiative of the Philippine government to extend an invitation to the Church to participate in this debate is a courtesy that the Church apparently fails to appreciate. Perhaps it is time that we simply cut them out of the conversation. When one schizophrenic party manages to derail the conversation of an entire group for so long, one begins to wonder about the sanity of the other members of said group.

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