The television series Maria Clara at Ibarra currently aired on the GMA-TV channel, is the latest adaptation of Jose Rizal’s novel Noli Me Tangere.
I noticed the series included the evil Padre Damaso and Padre Salvi. These lying and cheating friars were lascivious, greedy and drunk with the political power they enjoyed during those colonial times of union of Church and State.
Padre Damaso and Padre Salvi lusted after the women of their period, notwithstanding their oath of celibacy as priests. Maria Clara is the daughter of Padre Damaso. Padre Salvi lusts for Maria Clara.
In my opinion, only the sex maniac Padre Camorra featured in El Filibusterismo, Rizal’s sequel to Noli, outdoes the evil Damaso and Salvi in terms of friarly libido.
Rizal’s objective in writing Noli and Fili is to put on record not only the worldliness of the Spanish friars in the Philippines, but the dangers of allowing Church officials to meddle in the secular affairs of the State.
Jesus Christ says it plainly and clearly in the Bible that the faithful shall “Render unto Caesar the things that belong to Caesar, and render unto God the things that belong to God.”
On the secular level, Section 6, Article II of the 1987 Constitution demands that the separation of Church and State in the Philippines shall be inviolable.
The foregoing biblical and constitutional mandates regarding the separation of Church and State are clear enough for anyone to understand. Catholic clergy are certainly aware of those mandates, yet they choose to ignore the same.
As an excuse for their unconstitutional meddling in politics, the clergy claims the Church must look after the welfare of its faithful.
That may be true for the spiritual welfare of the flock, but spiritual welfare is different from political welfare.
The tax-exempt status given by the Constitution to organized religion means the Church should not interfere in politics.
Filipino citizens have a right to criticize the government because they pay taxes. If the modern-day Padre Damaso wants to speak up against the government, then the likes of him should pay taxes first.
Padre Damaso and his cabal should not enjoy the best of both worlds—the right to engage in political discourse, and tax-exempt status.
In short, the Catholic clergy should keep all things spiritual to the confines of the Church, and leave all things political to the political forum. The Constitution and the laws have enough measures to address government abuse and anomalies.
In a way, the evil friars in Maria Clara at Ibarra remind me of many of today’s highly politicized cardinals, bishops, priests and nuns.
They are so immersed in politics that, apparently, most of them have completely “forgotten” about the separation of Church and State.
Aggravating their inexcusable “forgetfulness” is their desire to reacquire the political power they enjoyed in past administrations, notably during the term of the devotedly Catholic President Corazon Aquino (1986-1992).
The latter’s docile and submissive behavior toward Jaime Cardinal Sin, the politicized Archbishop of Manila, was public knowledge.
They also wielded immense political power during the administration of Mrs. Aquino’s son, President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III (2010-2016), who was a pale shadow of his father, the late Senator Ninoy Aquino.
In September 2010, Intramuros travel guide Carlos Celdran went inside the Manila Cathedral and displayed a sign bearing the word Damaso. Celdran did that to express his disapproval of Church meddling in legislation and other political concerns.
Apparently, Celdran believed that if the Church adamantly disobeys the Constitution, its leaders must be exposed for their brazen disobedience.
Church doctrine preaches forgiveness of sins and offenses.
Instead of following that fundamental church doctrine, Padre Damaso and his cohorts chose to file a criminal case for “offending religious feelings” against Celdran.
Sometime before the state visit of Pope Francis to Manila in January 2015, then Manila Archbishop Luis Cardinal Tagle announced his specious disclaimer that the Church had already forgiven Celdran, and “the People of the Philippines” are the ones who are actively prosecuting the criminal case against Celdran.
It turned out, however, that the clergy had been actively pursuing the criminal case against Celdran, and that all criminal cases are prosecuted in court in the name of “the People of the Philippines.”
Likewise, the clergy supported last year’s unsuccessful presidential run of the incompetent Leni Robredo, whom they believed will be totally servile to the clergy.
Last year, after Pope Francis fired Cardinal Tagle as head of Caritas Internationalis, the global charity arm of the Church, Bishop Pablo David of Caloocan City and a certain Father Gregory Gaston offered all sorts of excuses for Tagle’s ouster even if they had no actual knowledge of the real reasons behind the papal decision.
Maria Clara at Ibarra may be a reflection of the local Catholic Church today.