In my article last week, I discussed the popular television serial Maria Clara at Ibarra currently aired on the GMA TV network.
I said that the program, particularly its villanous priests like Padre Damaso and Padre Salvi, reminds me and many of our people about today’s Roman Catholic clergy.
Maria Clara at Ibarra is based on Jose Rizal’s immortal novel Noli Me Tangere, which exposed the abuses by evil friars during the Spanish colonial period of the country.
The Spanish friars exploited the union of Church and State regime in force in the islands back then.
They were mostly lascivious clergy who took advantage of Filipino women, and threatened anyone and everyone who did not obey their commands, no matter how illicit or immoral the same might be, with spiritual damnation.
The Spanish friars also used the union of Church and State as a vehicle for their exercise of political power, oftentimes superior to government authority.
They amassed wealth, and owned extensive real estate eventually called “friarlands” during the American colonial period in the Philippines.
In my article, I pointed out the evils brought about by priests and clergymen meddling in politics, and I emphasized the importance of the constitutionally mandated separation of Church and State obtaining in current times.
As I stressed in that article, most of today’s Roman Catholic clergy are so immersed in politics that, apparently, the bulk of their lot has completely “forgotten” about the separation of Church and State.
I also highlighted that today’s Catholic clergymen long for the past years when they wielded political influence in government, particularly during the unlamented administrations of President Corazon Aquino and her son, President Noynoy Aquino.
In my essay, I also mentioned that many contemporary nuns are just as highly politicized as many of the cardinals and priests of today are.
Several readers urged me to elaborate on my remark about the nuns. Here is my elaboration.
There are many nuns who, like many priests and clergymen, are also highly politicized.
My research indicates that the road to politics taken by today’s nuns first opened at the height of the February 1986 EDSA revolt when Mrs. Corazon Aquino went to a convent to consult some nuns on what course of action she should take.
Naturally, the nuns took advantage of their obvious influence on the next President of the Republic.
It helped Madre Damasa a lot that books on the EDSA revolt are rich with photographs of nuns joining the crowds at EDSA to block the way of troops loyal to the constitutional government of President Ferdinand Marcos Sr.
All that was enough to assure the nuns of their privileged place in the administration of Mrs. Aquino.
For starters, a nun was among those appointed by the neophyte President Aquino to a commission which drafted the present-day, defective 1987 Constitution.
Although its members were all unelected like President Aquino, the commission exercised the tremendous power of writing the fundamental law of the land.
Since then, President Aquino made it a point to regularly consult priests and nuns on matters of the State, in manifest violation of the constitutionally mandated separation of Church and State.
The news archives have many accounts of nuns engaging in politics far beyond just their right to vote.
I remember an opinionated nun from a known Catholic school for girls in the southern part of Manila, who had a very strong dislike for President Rodrigo Roa Duterte.
In 2020, a few days after the Regional Trial Court of Manila convicted Rappler boss Maria Ressa and her editorial assistant of the crime of cyberlibel, the nun went online to denounce the court’s ruling.
Even though she had no knowledge about the law on libel, the nun criticized the court’s decision on many grounds, mostly legally unfounded.
The nun even went on to criticize the person of the judge, an alumna of the college which the nun headed. According to the nun, the judge does not deserve to be an alumna of the school.
Great scott! A nun who isn’t even a lawyer criticizing a decision of the trial court on its merits!
In October 2022, the Court of Appeals affirmed the conviction of Ressa and her assistant. This time, the nun was silent. Her layman’s criticism of the trial court’s conviction of Ressa, et al. was proved wrong by the appellate court.
To my knowledge, the nun did not retract her accusations against the judge, even if four judicial minds (those of the judge and the three appellate court justices) proved her wrong.
Apparently, pride prevented the nun from apologizing. Incidentally, under Catholic church doctrine, pride is one of the seven deadly sins.
By way of summation, Madre Damasa should stop meddling in politics. It’s not the office of a true nun to do so.