Carlos Celdran

Carlos Celdran stepped into Manila Cathedral, and in protest for the passage of Reproductive Health Bill, earned the wrath of the Catholic Church. Much has already been said of Carlos Celdran’s case. As a Catholic, I am not at least offended by Mr. Celdran’s action.

We live in a democracy, and in a democracy we all have the right to free speech, and often the price of democracy is that we offend someone. That doesn’t stop me from being disappointed. Disappointed that Mr. Celdran’s opposition to another’s position could have been expressed differently. Carlos Celdran has, apologized, and for me, that is enough. His action, while disappointing doesn’t seem to scale to epic proportions. Put it another way, the punishment doesn’t seem to fit the crime. So I am appalled by the verdict, and by the very existence of such a law. I am even more appalled by how the Catholic Bishop’s Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) have acted. It makes them appear like bullies because the punishment doesn’t fit the crime. It would seem that letting bygones be bygones would have done the CBCP much more good. If only to practice what Jesus teaches us.

Give the other cheek!

I am Catholic, and it would seem to me that my church leaders are not walking the talk. How then are the rest of us mere mortals suppose to act? Didn’t Jesus teach us about God’s mercy?

As a Catholic should I be disgusted when my priest seem ill prepared for a sermon?

The Catholic Bishop’s Conference of the Philippines too reserve the right to freedom of speech. They are after all, Filipinos themselves and have the right to speak. And they were permitted that right to voice out in opposition to the Reproductive Health Bill in spite of people thinking they seemingly have “gone off the reservation.” It didn’t matter if their opinion irk, baffled, nor offended many of us, least of which was our intelligence at the arguments. Never mind too that perhaps, democracy, was shortchanged by the CBCP’s drawing of lines. That no deep debate transpired to ensure that the RH Bill is the absolute best version of the law we could come up with.

As a Catholic should I expect the clergy to talk sense? To have that element of moral compass? “Lord, make me an instrument of your peace, Where there is hatred, let me sow love; Where there is injury, pardon; Where there is doubt, faith; Where there is despair, hope; Where there is darkness, light; Where there is sadness, joy.”

I am a member of the Church, and it offends me that my Church leaders have done something repulsive. It offends me that instead of bringing God’s love into the world, we are sowing quite the opposite. It offends me that a lot of people don’t know the difference between the CBCP and the Church, because I am part of that Church. I am Catholic, and stay Catholic not because I am good, nor better, or I think there are better places to find God, but because, I am a sinner.

Once upon a time, during the darkest moment of my life, a nun told me, “Jesus loves you”. She was sincere enough, I thought. I didn’t believe her then. I believed in her sincerity, and people’s good intentions, and I think it came from their deep devotion to faith.

Growing up, I learned this from the Brothers of the Christian Schools. At the end of every prayer, we would utter, “Live Jesus in our hearts. Forever.” While, I must admit that there have been many days those words seem hollow to me, as a Catholic, this is what I hope, and pray for our Church leaders. That Jesus would live in their hearts. Forever.

Cocoy Dayao

Cocoy is the Chief Technology Officer of Lab Rats Technica, a Digital Consulting company that specialises in DevOps, iOS, and Web Apps, E-Commerce sites, Cybersecurity and Social Media consulting. He is a technology enthusiast, political junkie and social observer who enjoys a good cup of coffee, comic books, and tweets as @cocoy on twitter.

Cocoy is also the Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief of the ProPinoy Project.

Cocoy considers himself to be Liberal.

  • I have forgiven Hitler for his crimes. Since we have forgiven him, he did not deserve to go to jail, nor did deserve to commit suicide, nor does he deserve so much hate these days. Get real. Carlos Celdran committed a crime in the laws of men. Let him be free to speak. But let him be responsible for his actions. And to put it succinctly, nambastos siya sa loob ng simbahan habang may misa. Bastos.

  • I can’t help but draw comparisons with the Russian feminist punk collective Pussy Riot who protested against the Russian Orthodox Church leader’s electoral endorsement of Putin and whose three members got jailed for two years for hooliganism motivated by religious hatred.

    I find that there are many parallels between Russia and the Philippines. Both went from dictatorship to economic and political liberalisation through peaceful means followed by a swing back to authoritarianism due to the failure of these reforms to provide meaningful progress. Both have oligarchs that control the economy. Both have high forms of corruption. Both are struggling to transition into a modern political economy.

  • cocoy

    @joe_america:disqus , @315823adcb832bb64032125798569a0e:disqus wow, probably two of the best comment replies I’ve seen in a LONG while. Yes, without doubt, Celdran is guilty of being disrespectful. And I do agree with your points of view. For me, I think the law is outdated. Mr. Celdran has apologized, and I think that goes a long way. The CBCP doesn’t need us defending it with law because it is big boy enough to do that on its own. IMHO, from a PR stand point forgiveness probably would have earned them much more respect. With regard to some nut walking into a Mosque and disrupting Muslim proceedings, certainly no one can stop that… except in this country, I know there is a general fear of Muslims. I think the fear of winding up dead after going into a Mosque to disrupt their prayer would be deterrent enough.

    • Actually, my thinking on this has matured the past couple of hours in learning that Mr. Celdran is a member of the Catholic Church. It seems to me this is within the proper realm of Church law, not State law. If he is disciplined by the Church, and his membership is terminated, and he does it again, then it becomes a matter of State law being applied.

      So I see this as a case defining jurisdiction between private and State institutions, with little bearing on free speech.

      • Joe, Interesting read re: your argument – Judith Lichtenberg (Foundations and Limitations of Freedom of Speech). She argues that freedom of expression is one thing (eg basic human right) that must be protected. Your argument is that Church is a private place, therefore expression occurring therein is subject to either freedom of expression or property rights. “Property rights” (church is not a public place) seems to have won in this round. As a matter of law, I agree with you 100%

        That said I still applaud Celdran. Protest is all about moving against the establishment for what we perceive is the greater good. America did not win independence by paying taxes to the King of England. The Philippines did win democracy back by obeying the rules of Martial Law. Revolt — big or small — is often necessary to induce social change. Because it’s preciesly the establishment that is “shackling” us, and it is precisely the establishment we want to change. Because of what he did he is going to jail… but on the other hand he created rallying cry that could very well have provided the necessary impetus to change our draconian laws.

        My two cents before my morning coffee! πŸ™‚

        • i mean didn’t win democracy*

        • Well, I hope the coffee was good. Yes, civil protest is well established as the mechanism to move forward in the States. But protestors have to know the laws and either obey them or be willing to get carted off to jail. Many a “sit in” protestor has spent time in jail, generally not a very long time. I don’t like confrontational protests myself, as they create too much hate and sometimes injury or death (Kent State)..They close minds rather than open them. I think the Occupy movement in the US has crossed the unfortunate line too often.

          Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech, totally peaceful and lawful, opened millions of minds.

          I don’t know if Celdran opened them or closed them. I fear the latter, as the deceitful political spin originating from the CBCP certainly reached new lows last year.

          It’s all rather interesting, for sure. Keep pushing, eh?

          • I think the term is civil disobedience.
            In any case, no violence involved in the Damaso affair πŸ™‚

      • manuelbuencamino


        The thing is art 133 puts the whole incident under State jurisdiction. I think it’s right because the State has to keep the peace even among members of a Church. The incident can be likened to a case of domestic disturbance. The State can exercise jurisdiction over domestic disturbances.

        What the State has no business interfering in is the sanctioning of Celdran under the rules of the Church. That is a private matter between the Church and its members. Unless the sanctions involve bodily harm or a death sentence.

    • manuelbuencamino


      I think the intention of art 133 of the RPC is to prevent religious conflict at the same time promote religious tolerance. Live and let live and we can all worship in peace. Too many have died from religious intolerance.

      Celdran’s action was not only disrespectful it was also intolerant. I would keep art 133 in place until a better alternative is found. The CBCP, the INK, the muslims may not need protection but there are a lot of small sects that need it. We need art 133 to protect them from the intolerant members of other more powerful religions and even from atheists if you want to go that far.

      So it’s not a question of dating art 133. Rather the question is whether it works or not and whether a better art 133 can be written.

  • A church is not a public place and civilized people respect other people’s right to worship in quiet prayer, song or study. It is not a proper forum for “free speech”, just as the senate chambers are dedicated to senate business, not protest.

    If people can’t behave civilly, laws are written to get them back into line. The guilty party is Mr. Celdran, not the law.

    This has absolutely nothing to do with free speech. It has to do with respect.

  • manuelbuencamino

    1. The thing is Celdran was convicted of violating art 133 of the Revised Penal Code. – “The penalty of arresto mayor in its maximum period to prision correccional in its minimum period shall be imposed upon anyone who, in a place devoted to religious worship or during the celebration of any religious ceremony shall perform acts notoriously offensive to the feelings of the faithful.”

    Art 133 of the RVP is meant to uphold religious freedom, a right guaranteed by the Constitution. There is no question that Celdran offended the feelings of some the faithful who were in that Church on that particular day. If Celdran is given a free pass for violating that provision of the law then what will prevent a fanatic Catholic from entering a mosque or an INK chapel and disrupting its ceremony or vice versa?

    Celdran stood up for what he believed in. That’s admirable and courageous considering the consequences that Celdran was willing to face when he did what he did. But I’ll stop there because religious freedom is just as important as freedom of expression. As a matter of fact we can argue that religious worship is a form of expression as well so disrupting it would be violating a worshipper’s freedom of expression. Anyway…

    2. “Give the other cheek!” Frankly I don’t know. The Church has enough problems with sex offenders in their ranks. Give the other cheek might mean someting else to them besides God’s love and mercy. πŸ™‚