A Divine Mission

April 4, 2015 at 7:22 pm 10 comments

Pope Francis
Photo Credit: inquirer.net
When Pope Francis visited the Philippines in 2015, he was treated like a rock star. Millions of Filipinos flocked to see him wherever he went. The scene could be compared to the enthusiastic crowd that Kim Jung Un attracts in North Korea. In this case, however, the display of affection was genuine and not made for the camera.

In return, Pope Francis rewarded the Filipinos with the divine mission of spreading Christianity in Asia. Personally, I don’t see the point. All religions are equal in the eyes of God. But then I digress.

Anyway, it seems like a good idea. The Filipinos are 85 percent Catholic making the Philippines the foremost Christian country throughout the region. But numbers don’t really mean anything if most of them are Christians in name only.

I don’t want to disparage my native country, but the Philippines remains as one of the most corrupt countries in the world belying its Christian heritage. In the latest Transparency International Corruption Index, the country had a score of 3.8 out of a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being the most corrupt.

Corruption is the grease that keeps the machinery of the country going. It’s condoned and accepted within the system. Diogenes who carried a lamp looking for an honest man was fortunate not to extend his search in the Philippines. He’d be grossly disappointed. Worse, his lamp would be stolen to hide the evidence.

As a result, its leaders and people couldn’t be considered as paragon of Christian virtues. I’m afraid that even the church leaders in the country aren’t immune to corruption. During the term of former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, they turned a blind eye to her corrupt practices in exchange for monetary favors and expensive gifts like SUVs.

Pope Francis is a smart man. Since he believes that Asia is the future of the Church, how can he entrust the Filipinos the role of evangelizing it? Is he out of his mind?

Pope Francis and Cardinal Tagle
Photo Credit: rappler.com

Well, I think the Pope is totally aware of their imperfections in the same way that Jesus was aware of His first disciples’ imperfections. He hopes that by challenging the Filipinos to a higher purpose, some of them can rise to the occasion and do God’s work and the rest become better Christians in the process. At the same time, I won’t be surprised if this is his way of paving the groundwork for the first Asian Pope to succeed him in the person of young Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, the current Archbishop of Manila. At 78, he gives his papacy another five years at the most.

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10 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Nelle  |  April 4, 2015 at 9:20 pm

    I love the last paragraph. And I share his hope. Right now we have a lot of “armchair activists” who share their dissatisfaction towards our country’s corrupt culture (which is not a bad thing, letting our voices heard is step one towards change). But it’s time for us to take the second step and take action. It doesn’t have to be something huge, but we could always start small like educating local communities especially since elections are coming up next year. Personally, I am looking for a cause I can get behind while I am thinking of my own project to help other Filipinos.

    • 2. plaridel  |  April 5, 2015 at 1:00 pm


      our politicians love to treat the OFWs are the new heroes. we should akways be grateful for their contribution and sacrifice. but, as for me, those who have chosen to stay and try to make a difference are the better heroes.

      i hope you find a cause worth your while. just be wary of pretenders who would use for their own selfish ends.

  • 3. Leigh W. Smith  |  April 5, 2015 at 8:23 am

    Fascinating and excellent op-ed, Plaridel. Can I like it more than once?! šŸ™‚
    I believe I’ve read you mention the Diogenes-in-the-Philippines example before, and I take your point. Unfortunately, it seems to me where there’s power–in any group, government, clubs, religions, etc.–corruption follows (power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely). Ah, but the rub: how to rid the world of corruption? I must say, I really like this Pope. I’m not Catholic, but I feel that he has taken some revolutionary stands (especially with respect to worldwide income inequalities), and perhaps this one will work. (Although I reject the idea–if that is even a motivator nowadays–that the world’s citizens or any aboriginals have to be converted from their “savage” religions and customs, as was sadly done in the U.S. to Native Americans.) Time will tell, eh? Oh, and as an outsider and one interested in science and the environment, I find your op-ed particularly enlightening; thank you for sharing it. For me (again, as an outsider), I am interested in another issue than politics, with regard to your country, but wrapped up in politics is the issue of climate change. After the terrible cyclone Haiyan in 2013, it is no wonder that your country is the chair of the Climate Vulnerable Forum negotiating bloc; I’m not a praying woman, but I do fervently, ardently hope that the world–particularly ignorant Americans–will start caring about the climate impacts on our brothers and sisters in places like the Philippines and, now, Vanuatu (devastated by Cyclone Pam). Sorry to range outside the main religion point of your op-ed, Plaridel, but I feel strongly that we have to work together as human beings and world citizens–of every, any, or even no religion–to conquer this brewing climate change disaster.

    • 4. plaridel  |  April 5, 2015 at 1:01 pm


      it’s an irony that high level of corruption exists on countries where religion seems to play an important role such as in latin america and the middle east.

      corruption exists because of greed. those who have want to have more and want to keep it that way. this is especially true in a country where, if you divide the nation’s wealth equally among the citizens, everybody will be poor.

      anyway, climate issues are very important to the philippines most especially now that verisk maplecroft, a risk analysis firm, has released a report on mar. 4 showing that among 100 cities with the greatest exposure to natural calamities, 21 are in the philippines and 8 of the 21 are in the top 10. the report further stated that the country’s “entrenched corruption and high levels of poverty” have made the risk higher because they hinder the government’s ability to response.

      • 5. Leigh W. Smith  |  April 8, 2015 at 2:17 pm

        So sad, Plaridel. I hadn’t seen that report. I will say my best wishes for your countrymen and women to stay safe as our entire planet deals with this significant challenge of climate change, among many other challenges.

  • 7. skippyheart  |  April 5, 2015 at 12:03 pm

    Happy Blessed Easter, mr P! šŸ™‚

    • 8. plaridel  |  April 5, 2015 at 1:02 pm


      you just made my day with your greeting. happy blessed easter to you, too.

  • 9. AC  |  April 7, 2015 at 3:40 am

    The very same reason why I don’t believe that religiosity equates to being a good person — the Philippines is home to millions of religious people yet it is full of sins. I stopped attending the mass years ago and I now consider myself free thinker yet I believe I’m a kind-hearted person. Ahem ahem. LOL. šŸ˜€

    • 10. plaridel  |  April 7, 2015 at 9:49 am


      you’re a kind-hearted person and put many so-called christians to shame.


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