On September 30, 2010, late in the afternoon, Carlos Celdran did what most of us could only hope to achieve. He a gave voice to the growing number of secularists in the country, a voice to those who are sick of the undue influence the Catholic Church holds over society.
Arrested and detained for “offending the feelings of the faithful” after his daring stunt, Celdran became an overnight sensation. And we know this for a fact because his Facebook fan page skyrocketed to almost 15 thousand fans. On a more important note, this provided an avenue for people to actually have intellectual discourses regarding the issue.
Personally, Celdran’s feat inspired me so goddamn much (pun very much intended), to the point where I even cried my eyes out just to be allowed to go to the rally in front of UN Avenue Precinct No. 5. This, coupled with P-Noy’s uncompromising stance against the Catholic Church made me feel for the first time that maybe there is hope for the Philippines. Maybe things really are about to change!
And then, of course, Celdran had to apologize.
“I am sorry for the method I used, but my message is unapologetic.” – Carlos Celdran
Whether or not, this apology comes from immense public pressure or was sincere, I wouldn’t know. But while this statement generally appeased the people, I was, on the other hand, disappointed.
I personally think that the method was perfect. It was exactly what the Philippines needed! Think about it. The Catholic Church has the gall to threaten civil disobedience against the very own government which grants it tax exemption because it knows (or rather, believes) that the masses will back them up. No one would ever dare disrespect the Catholic Church because it is legitimized by the scriptures (READ: THE BIBLE) and a god who supposedly put them there to lead us to salvation. Of course, NO ONE would ever dare question the validity of that because ZOMG YOU JUST DON’T QUESTION THE BIBLE.
The problem, I think, is that people actually acknowledge the supposed moral unsoundness of the RH Bill, and are now morally conflicted as a result, despite seeing the necessity of the legislation of the bill. However, the problem with this mindset is that we are conceding that the Church is right. And this, in turn, makes them believe that they are empowered to prevent the legislation of the RH Bill. In other words, you give them the moral authority over you and society. (On a side note, assuming without conceding that the RH Bill is morally unsound, does this mean the bill should not be legislated? The answer is in this short reaction paper I wrote on Holmes’ essay, The Path of the Law, regarding the congruence of law and morality, which can be read here.)
It was, however, Celdran’s attempt at moderating his fan page that got me to go cold turkey:
Despite previous claims of standing up for free speech and democracy, here we see Celdran contemplating on killing the fan page because people are expressing their distaste for the Church, such as this:
Okay, I concede that the previous comment wasn’t the most sensitive or appropriate statement. Still, if Celdran is actually attempting to segregate priests between “good” and “bad”, even so far as to suggest that we should “reform them”, then he’s doing no better than the Catholic Church because he’s also imposing his on standards of morality on others.
We can’t say that a priest is “good” just because he supports the RH Bill. Conversely, we can’t say that a priest is “bad” just because he condemns it. The Catholic Church is entitled to their own opinions, just as we all are. No one can take it against them for going against the RH Bill because they’re just doing what they think is right, which is their interpretation of the scripture. It’s just the same as Carlos Celdran believing the RH bill is good. Or that I think fraternities do more harm than good to society. Everyone is entitled to opinions. What we are not entitled to are facts.
So what now? What we can (and oughta) do is exactly what Carlos Celdran did: Tell them to stop getting involved in politics and tell them to stop shoving their moral standards on other people’s throats just because they can’t even adhere to it themselves.
And why he had to apologize for that, I’ll never understand.