24 August 2011

Where the Rotteness Started

Church Money
A few days ago, most of the public was aghast to learn that millions of taxpayer's money were spent in acquiring luxurious vehicles for Catholic priests and bishops allegedly as payment for supporting the former administration and criticizing President Benigno Aquino III. To make matters worse, the seven deadly priests returned the vehicles after their followers solicited more money to replace what they lost.

The revelation that the money came from gambling proceeds only bolstered the hypocrisy of it all considering that the Catholic Church is raising heaven and hell to stamp out any gambling activity. Is it now a new policy within the confines of a seminary to accept money from programs that they deemed illegal and immoral?

What is more rotten is the latest report that shows the Catholic Church has invested billions in the stocks of several Philippine companies. The report from the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) revealed that the Catholic Church and its affiliate Catholic groups are the top stockholders in companies such as the Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI), Philex Mining Corporation (PX), San Miguel Corporation (SMC), Ayala Corporation (AC), and Phinma Corporation (PHN), among others.

So, why are they still asking money from the people?

This greed for money can be traced back to the early days of the Catholic Church when there was still no legal alternative. During those times, the priests jealously guarded their position and anybody who was deemed to have gone against them was labelled a heretic and burnt at the stake. They did not tolerate any deviance from its teachings as any appearance of 'going soft' might have been interpreted as a sign of weakness which would be exploited.

The power of the Catholic Church had been built up over the centuries and relied on ignorance and superstition on the part of the populace. It had been indoctrinated into the minds of their blind followers who don’t know how to think for themselves that they could only get to heaven via the church.

This gave a priest enormous power at a local level on behalf of the Catholic Church. The local population who was so blinded by the Church’s blasphemous teachings viewed the local priest as their 'passport' to heaven as they knew no different and had been taught this from birth by the local priest. Such a message was constantly being repeated to ignorant people in church service after church service. Hence keeping their priest happy was seen as a prerequisite to going to heaven.

This relationship between people and church was essentially based on money - hence the huge wealth of the Catholic Church. Rich families could buy high positions for their sons in the Catholic Church and this satisfied their belief that they would go to heaven and attain salvation. However, a peasant had to pay for a child to be christened (this had to be done as a first step to getting to heaven as the people were told that a non-baptised child could not go to heaven); they had to pay to get married and they had to pay to bury someone from their family in holy ground. Everything has payment in the Catholic Church (mukhang pera?).

To go with this, a person would pay a sum to the church via the collection at the end of each, a person had to pay tithes (a tenth of their annual income had to be paid to the church which could be either in money or in kind such as seed, animals etc.) and they were expected to work on church land for free for a specified number of days per week. The days required varied from region to region but if a farmer were working on church land they could not be working on their own land growing food etc. and this could be more than just an irritant to a peasant as he would not be producing for his family or preparing for the next year.

However, unfair and absurd this might appear to someone in the 1990’s it was the accepted way of life in 1500 as this was how it had always been and no-one knew any different and very few were willing to speak out against the Catholic Church as the consequences were too appalling to contemplate. Fortunately for the Philippines, this is not the case today and not a few people are narrow-minded anymore to believe most of the half-truths told during a sermon.
The Catholic Church also had a three other ways of raising revenue.

Relics: These were officially sanctioned by the Vatican. They were pieces of straw, hay, white feathers from a dove, pieces of the cross etc. that could be sold to people as the things that had been the nearest to Jesus on Earth. The money raised went straight to the church and to the Vatican. These holy relics were keenly sought after as the people saw their purchase as a way of pleasing God. It also showed that a person had honoured Him by spending their money on relics associated with His son.

Indulgences: These were 'certificates' produced in bulk that had been pre-signed by the pope which pardoned a person’s sins and gave them access to heaven. Basically if a person knew that they had sinned they would wait until a pardoner was in their region selling an indulgence and purchase one as the pope, being God’s representative on Earth, would forgive their sins and they would be pardoned. This industry was later expanded to allow people to buy an indulgence for a dead relative who might be in purgatory or Hell and relieve that relative of his sins. By doing this, a person would be seen by the Catholic Church of committing a Christian act and this would elevate their status in the eyes of God.

Pilgrimages: These were very much supported by the Catholic Church as a pilgrim would end up at a place of worship that was owned by the Catholic Church and money could be made by the sale of badges, holy water, certificates to prove they had been etc. and completed their journey.