Bishop Villegas’ ‘Show of Force’ rally

By: Atty. Ruphil F. Bañoc February 23,2017 - 09:06 PM



Despite the call of CBCP President Bishop Socrates Villegas to the people to join the rally last Saturday tagged as “Walk for Life,” only a very few attended.

With more than 103 million Filipinos in this Catholic-dominated country, the rally only drew 10,000 people. In Cebu, the cradle of Catholicism and with more or less 4 million people, the crowd estimate of those who attended the rally was only less than 800 with students whose attendance were reportedly checked by their teachers.

I leave it to Bishop Villegas, known to be close to the Aquinos, and some organizers with their honest conscience to name it as a “show of force.”

Anyway, everyone is entitled to his own interpretation. I hope such interpretation is coupled with sincerity as our church leaders are invoking the name of God.

The purpose of last Saturday’s rally was to express their opposition to the planned re-imposition of the death penalty and the alleged extrajudicial killings linked to the government’s war on drugs. Prior to that rally, Bishop Villegas signed a pastoral letter against Du30’s way of solving the drug problem in the Philippines.

The questions we cannot escape from are: Why did majority of the Catholics not attend the rally? Are they not listening to their leaders anymore? Are they already uninterested with their Catholic faith? Did they not agree with the opinion of Bishop Villegas? Or did they sense that there is politics behind as motives?

The Bible says, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. (Matthew 7:1) This verse will make sense because the Bible further says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23). To be fair, in this passage, no one is exempted, including the bishops.

So, I do not want to judge the majority members of the Catholic Church in not joining last Saturday’s rally. Instead, I give them the benefit of the doubt that they are matured in their faith; hence, they did not join said rally.

This is because of the unavoidable comparison of that rally to the procession of the Black Nazarene in Quiapo last month and the solemn procession of Sto. Nino de Cebu. Millions of faithful voluntarily attended the events notably without the call of Bishop Villegas. Not even the threats from terrorists, which prompted the government to put off the network signals in both processions, could stop the faithful from joining.

In the same manner, Catholics who are matured in their faith still attend holy Masses despite the fact that the priest celebrating it is also a sinner. This is because they attend to receive Christ in the Holy Eucharist and not because of the priest officiating it. For this reason, the Catholic Church based on its history has survived through the centuries despite their internal and external crisis.

In fact, recently, Pope Francis is reportedly colliding with some corrupt cardinals and bishops in the Vatican. With his simple life, I can say that he is truly the messenger who is the message himself.

Catholics are aware of the shortcomings of their leaders. But they remain active in their faith as can be seen during the Holy Masses and during purely religious activities. But why did they not join last Saturday’s call of Bishop Villegas? Is it not because they sense that it was not purely a religious activity but so mixed with something political?

I know of many active and devoted Catholics, but because they grasp the real problem reigning within the places of the poor, they are in favor of President Duterte’s way of solving the drug problem. That’s why they are hesitant, if not abhorrent, towards attending any rally that is perceived as anti-Duterte.

Last Saturday’s rally turned out to be a show of force or farce, depending on which side of the fence you are in. Was it a show of force or show of farce? Our discerning readers know the answer.

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TAGS: Catholic, CBCP, Cebu, Cebu City, rally, signed

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