Monday, October 23, 2006

Mabuhay ka Father!

nabasa ko sa inquirer ngayung araw. ang galing ng pari na to. matapang! bilib ako.
For this priest, sex ‘a good thing,’ Church made it ‘bad’
By Vincent CabrezaInquirerLast updated 05:39am (Mla time) 10/23/2006
Published on page A4 of the October 23, 2006 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer
BAGUIO CITY -- There are a handful of Catholic priests in the Philippines who will tell you sex is a “good thing.” A few will even admit it’s the Church’s fault for making sex “a bad thing.”
Teachers and pastors here met one of these outspoken priests last week during a training retreat sponsored by the Institute of Women’s Studies that was devoted to gender sensitivity.
Some of the participants appeared surprised to hear a priest reveal how the Church had propagated sexism in Philippine society.
Fr. Percy Juan Bacani, a moral theologist and superintendent of high schools operated by the Diocese of Baguio, said the Catholic doctrine on “guilt” had very much eroded Filipinos’ appreciation for, and even enjoyment of, sex.

The Church, he said, is a male-dominated power center where the female plays a far diminutive role. It is this ideological foundation which explains why Filipino women today are less valued than women of an ancient Filipino culture where they were revered.
Women who shine in Catholic societies only achieve their ambition by imbibing the male culture, or by sustaining the myth “that the only good women are virgins,” Bacani said.
President ‘man-like’
President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, he said, is more “man-like” in her shrewdness at politics.
More were surprised when the priest suggested that the devoted turn back to the spiritual nature of indigenous Filipino worship in order to unlearn the Christian dogma that has made some religious Filipinos abhor sex.
Bacani cautioned his audience that his lessons about religion and sex were based on “my struggles to be a man in the right way.”
It is an ongoing struggle, he later told the Inquirer.
Bacani, 49, is one of the outspoken members of the “Missionaries for Jesus,” a group of Filipino priests who broke away from the Society of Jesus, citing “principled” issues.
He said only 10 to 15 priests in the country had been advocating gender rights aggressively since 2004 when sex scandals implicating priests surfaced.
Evaluation of sex concepts
Bacani said sex scandals fueled a campaign among young priests to evaluate Church-dictated concepts of sexuality, but the hierarchy discouraged them.
Society’s strong reaction to these scandals were too brief, he said, citing a local priest who was convicted by a Baguio court of sexual misconduct but who still won the mayoral race in a Benguet town.Bacani said he had been asking Baguio Bishop Carlito Cenzon to allow him to counsel local priests about sexuality, using his radical module, but has yet to receive a response.
“I taught some priests about gender rights, and I spoke about it in my lectures at a seminary, but some seminarians protested the direction these discussions would take,” Bacani said.
A pastor challenged some of Bacani’s core message by stressing that the country progressed better under the Church compared to the period when Filipinos revered a matriarchal leadership.
Subverting age-old principles
Raymundo Rovillos, a history professor at the University of the Philippines-Baguio, described Bacani’s advocacy as “a hard path” and said he was subverting centuries-old principles.
Bacani said being tolerant of all sexual preferences meant accepting homosexuality.
He said that while the Church acknowledged homosexual orientation, it frowned on homosexual acts. He said this view was deceptive.
Modern Christianity, he said, had fashioned its concepts about life, society, women and power around the patriarchy or a society run by males.
Historically, Bacani said, the Church’s ideological foundation is defined by the gender of Jesus Christ, who is male.
The Church’s language reveals this bias, he said, because God is always “The Father,” and the Church’s roster of saints is composed mostly of men.
Patriarchal conceit
Sexuality also follows a patriarchal conceit, Bacani said.
“The male orientation is to procreate … Masturbation and homosexuality are taboo because these sexual acts do not produce children,” he said.
Virginity is a doctrine that has no real value to society, but it persists under Church teachings, the priest said.
Bacani said this had made society frown at men who are aroused by a naked woman. Real sin, he said, takes place when a man obsesses and objectifies the woman.
He said his lessons were not attacks on Christianity, but were discussion points for the faithful “because we need to revisit our religion … we need to review our faith.”
The Episcopal Church is closer to emancipating all gender when it allows homosexuals and women to become part of its clergy, Bacani said.
Cordillera more advanced
He said indigenous Filipino concepts in the Cordillera taught the faithful about sex far better than theological books could because Cordillera society allowed women a say in communal decisions and were not afraid of nudity.
Rovillos said Cordillera women had a far healthier concept of sex.
“They do not have a word for ‘rape’ or ‘incest’ because that just never happens. But rape and incest now occur in the modern Cordillera world, and that is tragic,” he said.

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