Where are the defenders of the faith?

A lot of my relatives and friends are practicing Catholics. They’re mostly good, decent people. They attend Mass regularly, avail of the sacraments, and try their best to follow the teachings of the church.

They even follow one of the teachings of the church that I do not agree with, which is to turn the other cheek. It’s one reason I am a non-practicing Catholic, not really a lapsed one. Not yet, at least. I prefer the Old Testament teaching of an eye for an eye. It makes for a balanced universe in my book.

My parents, especially my mother, were devout Catholics, God bless their souls. Growing up, they made me attend Mass with them every Sunday and they sent me to a Catholic school, La Salle. So the Catholic influence is strong in me, which is why I cannot bring myself to totally turn my back on the religion I was born and raised in.

But I am adamant about an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.

I cannot stand the deafening silence of the Catholic Church in the Philippines where President Rodrigo Duterte is concerned. He insults and threatens the church hierarchy at every opportunity. He blindly accuses priests and bishops of imagined crimes. He even cursed the Pope for no reason except for the huge traffic caused during the last papal visit.

At the same time, however, he meekly obeys the wishes of several other  quasi-Christian sects, particularly one based in Davao.

You may know the one I am referring to. It is headed by a guy who calls himself Pastor Quiboloy, who has proclaimed himself the living embodiment of God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. He also claims to own not just all of planet earth, but the entire universe.

Seriously.

He is also one of the richest men in the Philippines, owning his own private jumbo jet. Everyone ignores the fact that the jet in question was caught by US authorities not too long ago when it was found to have stashed  cash and firearms.

If there is such a thing as karma, that cult leader will get his in this lifetime. In the meantime, he remains a sacred ally of Mr. Duterte.

You all know the saying, tell me who your friends are and I will tell you who you are. That weird one and the president are very good friends it seems, and they clearly deserve each other.

If push comes to shove, I may even grudgingly return to the Catholic Church. It is, at the very least, an option.

But if I were to return to the fold, one thing I can be sure of is I will not stand silent as anyone insults my church to my face.

The insult of the week from the former Davao City mayor who claims to be president of the Philippines was pretty mild though. He simply advised Catholics to stop going to church and to just build chapels in their homes. He did, however, added that this was a good reason to avoid “idiots,” meaning parish priests, I suppose.

Last week, he accused a senior cleric named David from Caloocan of being a drug pusher and a liar. He did so with no proof, and a bishop named David said that if the president was referring to him, then he was wrong. His parents didn’t raise him to be a liar, he said, adding that he forgave Mr. Duterte.

As one friend says, Catholics must now decide, your president or your faith.

I have an idea. It’s not really new, but perhaps it’s an idea whose time has come.

I propose that all devout Catholics declare themselves as Catholic voters, and they will never vote for anyone who attacks the church in any way, shape or form. Nor will they stay silent when their church is attacked by anyone, including and especially the president.

By all accounts, anywhere from 80 to 85 percent of Filipinos claim to be Catholics. That’s one powerful voting bloc, if they can unite as a voting bloc. They can be the defenders of the faith that has been missing in action since Rodrigo Duterte became president.

It’s time for their collective voice to be heard. They can tell the chief executive and his apologists to literally go to hell. After all, based on church teachings, it’s where they belong.

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