Thursday, January 26, 2017

Rodrigo Duterte and the spirit of Vatican II

''It was easy for them (the priests) to call politician corrupt. How about you? Some are afraid because of politics. You are a son of a b****.”

I challenge you now. I challenge the Catholic Church. You are full of s***. You all smell bad, corruption and all.”

Rodrigo Duterte, if you don't know him, is the President of the Philippines. The words above are part of his regular aggressive rantings against the hierarchy of the Catholic Church in the Philippines. The Bishops are, to Duterte, mere degenerates drunk on power and hiding lust for women behind the veil of assumed holiness, the priests are at best homosexuals and at worst child abusers.

Duterte is a populist in the very literal sense of the word. He supports homosexuality, is a heavy promoter of contraception and is happy to indulge in the most crass kind of anti-clericalism as demonstrated above. Not to mention his every popular campaign to rid the Philippines of drugs by murdering thousands relatively indiscriminately.

What we should note about Duterte is that his heavy handedness against drugs aside, the rest of his positions are the types that the West adores. So why is he seen as an unrepentant thug to many? Why does a man who feels such a burning sense of outrage towards drug dealers then go and hold such a set of contrary positions regarding other matters of morality?

The simple answer is that he is a man full of the kinds of conflicts that seemed to have ravaged the souls of the Gospel tyrants like Pilate and Herod, with a supposed yearning for truth, only to reject He who is the Truth when He was in their very midst. The problem with the Catholic Church in many parts of the world is that it does not speak the Truth plainly enough to convince evil men of their misdeeds. In fact, since Vatican II it seems to have given such men ammo for their hatred. Duterte has on many occasions stated that he was molested as a boy by a Catholic priest, actually to be more precise, by a Jesuit priest. He has stated that the Bishops in his country accepted bribes. He has stated that he and the Bishops share the vice of being partial to enjoying the company of women too much.

Is he a hurt individual expressing his disappointment in the Church? When he promises to write a book entitled 'Hypocrisy' about the Bishops is he deflecting criticisms of his own misdeeds?
Like many in the West, especially in Ireland, his obsession with relating all matters back to the Church without actually contemplating the Church's position with any considerable merit, denotes a man revealing his own inner conflicts relating to the violence he commits, against his people and against God. In questioning God's existence publicly and stating the inability of a President to accommodate Christian teaching successfully into effective policy, there is a man who cannot bring himself to the humility of reconciling the God who he believes put him in charge with the actual teachings He wants him to follow. Duterte slams Catholic Church, says he doesn't need religion to show his 'deep' Christian faith.

"I have this deep, abiding faith in God but that does not mean that you have to have a religion, you have to follow somebody, that you have to get a message from this and that.
Why would I have to go to a human being to whisper my sins and ask for forgiveness from him? Who are you to listen to my sins and give me absolution? You are not God''. 

How many of us have heard such lines from a fallen away Catholic? Nominal and liberal Catholics adopt these positions such as these regularly even though they are completely incompatible with the Catholic Church. Yet they still call themselves Catholics. Duterte's obsession with expecting a Catholic morality upheld by Bishops and not himself is a very human response, demanding someone else remove the plank from their own eye before the point out the speck in yours. But Duterte knows that he himself is a hypocrite, he knows full well that he himself is not daily making himself worthy of the name of Christian and this is why his language is filled with such venom, one can only hope it's an expression of some inner remorse for his own sins that might someday lead to a proper Communion with the Church and Our Lord once again.

While Donald Trump has been compared to Duterte for his abrasive manner of speaking, the attitudes of both men could not be more different. Trump may have his flaws, but his attitude to the Catholic faith in relation to his knowledge of it has been very different. He has repeatedly appointed committed Catholics, he has asked God to help him in his presidency and he has shown himself to be genuinely moved by the prolife movement.

While Duterte's life seems to have been one long struggle that leads him further and further away from God and his One True Faith, Trump seems to be drawing himself closer and closer to it, if he cannot quite articulate it yet.

In spite of Trump's commitment to the prolife cause, only one of these men has been accused of not being a Christian by Pope Francis, guess which one? If you're wondering how powerful men end up with strange notions like Duterte's gobbledygook, look no further than that fact.

Child abuse, a loss of moral authority, ambiguous teaching.

It's as if by some small fissure, the smoke of Satan has entered the temple of God.

Donald Trump being blessed by an Orthodox Priest before the US Election

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