The Catholic Church staged its prayer-for-life rally in Rizal Park last March 25th. The crowd, which was estimated at 40,000 people at its peak, came from all over Metro Manila and surrounding provinces. So far, it was the biggest Church-organized demonstration against the controversial Reproductive Health Bill. Zealous anti-RH Bill advocates hailed the rally as a sign of the public’s overwhelming support for their cause.
Many would probably be intimidated by the Church’s show of force, especially since most of the photographs of the gathering were collaged, top view shots—a clever technique to make crowds appear bigger. However, objectively speaking, the turnout was quite puny compared to the mammoth political and religious rallies that have often been held in Rizal Park. Furthermore, the Church’s effort to flex its anti-RH bill muscles seems to have fallen flat, given that it surely used its vaunted organizational machinery and network of parishes and Catholic-run schools for the March 25 affair, but was only able to muster a relatively small number of people. I had expected a much bigger turnout and dare say that the size of the prayer-for-life rally is actually an indication of the weakness of the anti-RH Bill lobby and the Church’s declining influence in society.
Last week, I wrote a column entitled “The Catholic Taliban”, in which I condemned the Church’s meddling in state affairs, and posted it on social networking site Facebook. The beauty of this online medium is that columnists like me can immediately get the public’s responses to our political commentaries and posts. Facebook is free, open, egalitarian, and independent.
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