Buencamino is a fellow of Action for Economic Reforms. This piece was first published in Interaksyon.com on September 14, 2011.


I like your Christ but I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ. – Mahatma Gandhi

Inquirer columnist Conrado de Quiros took issue with Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma for claiming that Mama Mary will be happy if Catholics fight the RH bill. He wrote, “Palma may not know it, but he has just produced one of the richest ironies of late.”

De Quiros said that, unlike Mama Mary, bishops exhibit an astonishing ability “to be passionate about non-existent children and scornful of existent ones.”

“He has a point,” I told my friend.

“No, I think he missed an opportunity,” she replied.

“What opportunity?”

“Instead of getting into an argument with the archbishop, he should have thanked him for being candid.”

“What good will that do?”

“He would have moved the controversy over the RH bill from the public square to the churchyard, where it belongs,” she replied.

“What do you mean?”

“The bishops’ objection to the bill is parochial. It involves their faith and morals. It does not concern me and millions of non-Catholics.”

“But aren’t you even interested in what they have to say?” I asked.

“Frankly, no. Although I must confess that Archbishop Palma’s statement piqued my curiosity. I’d love to hear from him how Mama Mary will let you know that she is happy. Will manna fall from heaven so that nobody goes hungry even if you keep reproducing like rabbits?”

“That’s disrespectful! You’re mocking the archbishop!” I exclaimed.

“Why, because I take his statement at face value?”

“Because it doesn’t work that way!” I was practically screaming.

“Tell that to the Fatima kids,” she retorted. “Tell that to Cardinal Rosales.”

“What does the cardinal have to do with it?”

“He believes it works that way.”

“Cardinal Rosales told you that?” I asked, incredulous.

“As a matter of fact, he told everybody that. After several typhoons and the Mayon volcano erupted in 2009, he said, ‘Look at the positive side of the disaster. God wants us to live in compassion, love, mercy and sharing. Without these events we would have totally forgotten about our less fortunate brothers and sisters.’”

“You don’t understand,” I said shaking my head.

“What don’t I understand? Rosales pointed to typhoons and a volcanic eruption as messages from God, reminders that caused untold suffering to our less fortunate brothers and sisters. That’s not a nice way to remind people to be compassionate, loving, merciful, and sharing, is it? But God did it anyway. So why can’t God send manna to show Mama Mary is happy?”

“You’re nuts!” I said.

“Hey, I’m not the one who claimed to know what goes on inside Mama Mary’s head!” she snapped back.

“This is going nowhere.” I stood up to leave.

“Wait, please…” She begged.

“Okay, but let’s talk about something else,” I said.

“One last point and then we move on,” she promised.

I nodded.

She began, “I’ve never seen people as devoted as you, nowhere else in the world will you find Catholics praying and going to Church as often as you people do…”

“True,” I replied, with pride.

“But what do you people get for all your prayers and offerings?”

I shrugged my shoulders, indicating that payback was not that important to us.

“Do you want me to tell you anyway?” she asked.

“Okay,” I replied.

“Fourth place in the Miss Universe pageant.”