As the visit of Pope Francis to the Philippines draws near, it becomes apparent, at least in this country, that there exists two separate Catholic Churches. Same name, same proclaimed beliefs and values, hardly aware of each other’s existence, but both undeniably real.
One is the true Catholic Church, and one is false. Yet I am not in the position to decide which is which. But here is what I know:
One Church has its highest official visiting the Philippines to learn and feel the sufferings of those affected by typhoon Yolanda. The other Church wants to deprive certain Yolanda survivors the privilege of encountering Pope Francis.
One Church says there is not a lot of differences between Catholics and Communists, the latter who have been portrayed as the sworn enemy of the former. The other Church wants to deprive the above-mentioned survivors simply because they disagree with their politics.
One Church played an instrumental part in the release of Cuban political prisoners in the U.S. The other refuses to take part in the process of achieving a long-lasting peace in the Philippines.
One Church takes the differences between people and tries to bridge them: Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox Christian, Muslim, Jewish, and even atheist.
The other also takes differences, but to emphasize them, and to portray them as lesser Children of the same Parent: Leftists, Communists, atheists, LGBTs, pro-choice, etc.
One Church is concerned with the right to life of millions: those living under extreme poverty, those living in unjust societies. The other is concerned only with the right to life of those who have not yet left their mothers’ bodies.
One Church opposes destructive mining, dams and other anti-environment projects, landgrabbing against farmers and indigenous peoples, human rights violations, e tc. In short, it cares about the life of people on this earth. The other cares only about the supposed life of people after.
One Church is that of Pope Francis, Cardinal Tagle, and the many good people that I know personally who may not identify themselves as devout Catholics. The other is that of those who keep proclaiming that they are Catholics, yet whose actions seem to be at odds with their words.
I am not in the position to say which is the true Church, and which is false. But I do know that one of them is my Church, and the other is not.