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Sons of God


The bishops are at it again, railing against old sins. They’re quick to shoot down people linked to jueteng and condoms, but are gun-shy when confronted with sins committed by their brethren.

That’s the sad reality that even my very Catholic mother concedes to. But elsewhere in the world, the Catholic Church is fighting its own devil. In Belgium last month, an independent commission that was formed to look into the sexual abuse charges against Belgian Catholic priests released its report, claiming at least 13 young boys committed suicide after they were abused by the priests. The Pope’s visit to the UK last month also highlighted the still-unresolved issues of sexual abuse by Catholic priests in various parts of the world.

The default mode of the Church when faced with problems concerning its own is to keep quiet, to sometimes attempt to cover them up, to go slow in making people accountable, and to raise non-sequitur arguments. Of course this could be said of governments and companies as well, but it is most noticed when the Catholic Church commits it, precisely because it preaches the opposite: honesty.

Yet, the Sons of God, especially in the Philippines, are at their quickest and most transparent selves when exposing jueteng lords (never mind if the names are based on a list anyone could make) and condom-lovers.

Are you getting the drift yet? Yes, I have my beef with the Catholic Church. For if there’s any news organization in this part of the world that knows and feels how it is like to catch the ire of the Church, it is Newsbreak.

In a span of almost 10 years since we were born in 2001, Newsbreak’s Aries Rufo had written 15 mostly investigative stories on the Philippine Catholic Church.

In February 2003, Newsbreak ran a cover story about a Catholic bishop who had had an affair with a married woman and had fathered a child by her. We found the woman who made the allegations, and published a document in which Antipolo Bishop Crisostomo Yalung acknowledged paternity.

That same year, Aries bumped into yet another scandal—sexual harassment issues raised against a prominent bishop by his former secretary. The media noise that followed prompted a rare press conference by the Papal Nuncio, where he announced that they had accepted the resignation of Bishop Teodoro Bacani as Novaliches bishop.

Under the Arroyo regime, Newsbreak exposed the “two sins” of Pampanga’s local Catholic church: first, that the dioceses had a number of “married” priests and, second, that many tolerated jueteng because it helped finance Church activities and programs.

By that time, the genie was out of the bottle. Various sources started talking about various accountability issues concerning the Church. We had written about financial mismanagement at the RCAM, or the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Manila, and investigated the “untaxable Church.”

And so it has to be asked, in light of what’s happening now: was Newsbreak ever threatened with excommunication? Yes, in a way the modern, post-Dark Ages world would define excommunication.

Catholic groups threatened mass action in front of our offices (it never pushed through). We got bombarded by hate mail. We were asked why we were singling out the Catholic Church (despite our equally tough exposés on other sectors and agencies).  One member of our Board resigned.

“We thought we wouldn’t survive,” recalled then Newsbreak editor in chief Marites Dañguilan Vitug in an interview with The New York Times.

But what took the cake was a letter by the Manila Catholic Church hierarchy to all the members of our Board and one of our key funders that expressed dismay over their support for this “evil” magazine called Newsbreak. To continue being a part of this organization, the letter warned, is to be in bed with the devil.

I honestly hope the Catholic hierarchy has grown up since.

(Ms. Gloria writes this blog in her capacity as member of the board of Public Trust Media Group, which runs Newsbreak).

CATEGORY: Blogs, Glenda M. Gloria
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  1. good point, junice. thanks

  2. Unfortunately, the hierarchy is stuck in the dark ages, like the pope. But many Catholic faithful seem to be finding their own moral voices in common with other and non- faithful. May the RH debates spawn a more humane appreciation of different moral compasses and a strong affirmation of the state's freedom from religious capture.

  3. Sharp, pointed, fearles…not surprised, this is journalism at its finest! Kudos Ms. G!

  4. thank you, janryll! great to see you online.

  5. great article, fearless, remarkable.. great job ms. glenda. =)

  6. journalism+great writing=defender of freedom :)

  7. Just sharing this blog in the light of your article and the entire brouhaha on the RH Bill:…

    I am a Catholic. And I appreciate you and your group's contributions in showing the ills of the Church's heirarchy. It helps distinguish between faith and fanaticism, its heirarchy and the rest of its flock.

  8. better sacrilegious than sanctimonious…

  9. Till now im still waiting for bishop Cruz to name those priests and bishops he said taking jueteng money too. Dont be afraid of threat of being excommunicated by the Catholic church, What matter is between you and God only. God do not see religion, but He knows those who took jueteng money. I do not understand why we Filipinos are afraid of confronting the bishops and priest on their stand against RH bill.They dont have the final say whether you go to heaven or hell.Being a priest is no passport to heaven.

  10. So right! These “holy” priests are just good in words pointed at others. I tell you what these priests practice in UST High School, a Catholic school. If your child gets dismissed at their own unilateral decision for a childish offense even after just a quarter, you won’t get back even a cent of the full year tuition fee that you paid. Very good and fair Catholic way of doing business!!

  11. It is more about the tone of some clergy’s language than the truth. This is what hits your goat, which is more about themselves than what they are saying.

  12. very good point ma’am glenda. just like to share my blog which is somehow related on this.…upport-rh-bill/

    i too also had an experience with how the church labelled and tagged people who dissent their opinions. it’s irritating to attend mass and yet instead of hearing worthwhile sermon, the priest lambast supporters of RH Bill and intentionally relates the reading to the issue on RH. so sad there are many priests like them.

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Aries Rufo
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