Santiago blasts priest over ‘hell’ warning


Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago

She isn’t the type who would back down when challenged by a fellow politician or by a fellow lawyer. Neither would she when confronted by a man of the cloth.

Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago on Sunday came out firing against a Catholic priest who criticized her for repeatedly scolding prosecutors over their supposed incompetence in the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona.

Santiago took exception to a remark by Fr. Catalino Arevalo in his homily suggesting she could be “worthy of the fires of hell,” particularly for referring to the prosecution team as gago (fool) during a trial session last week.

“The Constitution provides for a wall of separation between Church and State. A priest cannot violate the law in the guise of criticizing a senator-judge with the ulterior motive of promoting his own political agenda,” Santiago said in a statement.

Arevalo, a Jesuit in his 80s who is close to the family of President Benigno Aquino III, quoted Matthew 5:20 in taking a swipe at the mercurial senator: “But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgement. And if you insult a brother or sister, you will be liable to the council. And if you say, ‘You fool,’ you will be liable to the fires of hell.”

‘Publicity hound’

“I can engage in a public debate with the priest and we can exchange quotation for quotation from the Bible,” said Santiago, who holds a master’s degree from Maryhill School of Theology.

“But that would be foolish, because the Bible can be interpreted in as many ways as there are Christian churches.”

Santiago said Arevalo “sounds very much like a publicity hound,” claiming the priest had asked reporters to write about his homily.

“And I thought humility in spiritual matters is a virtue,” she said.

“The priest is saying that he is close to God and I’m not. I say to the priest, judge not, that you shall not be judged,” she added.

Both at fault

At Thursday’s trial, Santiago berated prosecutors for suddenly dropping five of the eight impeachment articles against Corona.

She was also incensed by the prosecution’s pronouncement that it now had “overwhelming” evidence to convict Corona, even if the defense was yet to argue its case.

Santiago was even more angered when a private prosecutor, Vitaliano Aguirre, covered his ears each time the senator took the floor. Aguirre was later cited for contempt.

Former Ambassador Roy Señeres, Aguirre’s former classmate at San Beda College’s law school, said Aguirre should not be punished, noting that while Aguirre was cited for contempt by the Senate, Santiago was never chided for calling the prosecutors fools.

“He and Senator Santiago are in pari delicto (equal in fault). Both committed contemptuous behavior. Aguirre should not be punished unless Santiago is punished also. If the Senate can’t punish Santiago, they might as well not punish Aguirre also. The entire Senate would be committing a contemptuous act if they punish Aguirre only,” Señeres said in a text message.

“The Senate should not commit an injustice upon Aguirre,” he added.

Aguirre has since quit the prosecution team. With a report from Jerome C. Aning

Originally posted: 8:50 pm | Sunday, March 4th, 2012

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  • Antonio Bastonero

    by their own actions, both committed a contemptible act, though, being a judge, has the most responsibility of a restraint behaviour…the senate was fast in ruling to cite the lawyer of contempt but slow, unmindful and tending to consent the abusive act of one of their kind…where’s the fair treatment of the law then???

  • Jim DeGuzman

    senators judges cannot contempt their own members it is unethical and out of their rules..but even senator brenda has an agility and charisma to argue with dahil tingin niya sa sarili sa kanya lahat ang galing at walang makakapigil sa kanya..

    true she might be the best debater in the impeachment court or in the senate..but soon if she dies she cannot say anything in front of the Almighty God..she will be taken immediately to the hell fire.. i’m sure brenda is top notch candidate to that place.

    • Orson Powell

      huwag kang kasisiguro kabayan … baka pag dating n’ya doon kasama ka na mag we-welcome sa kanya . .. nauna ka pa

  • Belinda Madrid

    Hmmm… it seems that Catholics should read the bible more before alluding to it. Fool as Christ used it in the Sermon on the Mount Matthew 5:22…meant “Mangmang”, unlearned, ignorant, simple minded. The Fool that Christ refers to has no malice and is unable to defend himself.

    It is very different from GAGO which is using stupidity to do a wrong deed or caught being stupid while doing a wrong deed.

    Why Christ Condemned Calling Someone a Fool

    The fool in Bible terms is not quite what we might think. Why does calling someone a “fool” put a person in danger of going to hell, according to Jesus? The answer is, it does, and it doesn’t.

    There is a marked difference in how we use the word today contrasted with what Jesus meant. Today, we likely think a person is a fool if he does something ill-advised. But in Bible times it meant far more than that. The statement is found in Matthew 5:22, and it is part of what is commonly known as Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. There, He says, “Whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother ‘Raca!’ [an Aramaic word referring to an empty-headed person] shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire.” To grasp the meaning of this warning, we need to understand the context.

    In that day, some had reduced Judiasm to a matter of externals. Act the right way, and perform the right rituals, and you were a good Jew. Matters of the heart were being ignored. But using several commandments of the Old Testament Law, Jesus demonstrates to His hearers that God’s standard involves not only outward acts (as the Pharisees taught) but inward attitudes (cf. vs. 27-28). In vs. 21-22, the discussion concerns the act of murder and the underlying attitude that can lead to it, malicious anger. In vs. 22, three levels of severity are described, each falling short of physical murder, but each sinful and destructive.

    1) If a person nurses a hateful and malicious attitude toward a fellow Jew (“his brother”), he could well be brought up before the local magistrate (“the judgment”).

    2) If his hatred is expressed in words of angry contempt (such as “Raca!”–the equivalent of “You stupid idiot!”) it could be a matter for the Jewish supreme court, called the Sanhedrin (“the council”).

    3) Worse still, the one who calls his brother a “fool” thereby suggests his own unsaved condition, which therefore means he is in peril of eternal damnation.

    In our own culture, there would seem to be little difference between the last two of these. But the latter term is given a much stronger meaning in the Old Testament. The fool is a godless, and immoral person (cf. Ps. 14:1; Prov. 9:13-18; 14:9). He is a wicked reprobate, destitute of spirituality. Further, and most significantly, many of the translators see the epithet, “You fool!” as implying a curse. Rotherham’s New Testament has, “You cursed fool” [i.e. ‘You damned fool!’].” And the Twentieth Century New Testament paraphrases, “Whoever calls down curses upon him.” The Living Bible paraphrase has, “And if you curse him…”

    Out of hateful and malicious anger, one individual is sitting in judgment on another (in effect, taking the place of God) and calling down eternal destruction on the object of his hateful wrath. This bears little relation to our current use of the word, referring to someone lacking in common sense who does something silly. In the Jewish culture, branding someone a fool was close to murder. It reflected an arrogant and hateful attitude calling for immediate correction (vs. 23-24)

  • simon jaring

    si MIRIAM nag quote ng bible verse mali pa ang ibig sabihin,, do not judge so that you will not be judge,,, is the favorite verse of unbelieving christian today. Jesus was talking/speaking to a group of wicked and adulterous generation,, to a group of evil and contrary people who has speck on the eyes. but to the believing christian there is a different command,, the command is,, judge even yourself so that you will not be judge, for the judgment will come first in the household of God,, prove all things,, do not believe every spirit but test the spirit if they are of God. well in fact Jesus said,, the queen of the south will rise in the judgment day to condemn this generation,, the people of Nineveh will rise in the judgment day to condemn this generation,,and apostle paul is asking us,, do you not know the saints will judge the world and of the angels?
    everyday we judged, from the food we take, dress we wear, road we take, president we elect.
    oh yes, do not forget in the case of CORONA.

    • Orson Powell

      mang simeon .. wrong place to quote the bible …

      this is a political exercise .. people will have their own interpretation … this verse, familiar to you? do not feed pearls to pigs …. reason being that sa mga mangmang, pilosopo etc. hindi nila masasakyan .. kaya bababoyin lang nila ang salita .. you and people like you are exposing the bible to “pigs”

  • Pablo Bernabe

    The same reason why I’ve been encouraging people to go and read their Bibles and not just let them gather dusts. As the Lord Jesus said those very words in the Holy Scripture will someday stand as a witness and judge against people who just ignored God’s instructions and calling.

    People (I mean God-fearing and truth-seeking ones) read your Bible with a humble, sincere and believing heart, for as Moses said they are not just idle words but are our very life.

  • Manila Mega

    Thank god for democracy. Can’t media just stop interviewing priests and bishops? we don’t need them in issues that dont concern them.

    • Simoun Alajero

      …a must tool for the palace…a way to condemn…and hammer the pious to submission….when everything fails….
      …part of the tool kit…of demagogues…

  • Lily Ogori

    Don’t worry about what Miriam says. Nobody believes her anyway!

  • Manuel Alberto

    Santiago quote…..”The priest is saying that he is close to God and I’m not. I say to the priest, judge not, that you shall not be judged,” she added”.
    How about…..”do not do unto other, what would others do unto you”. The lawyer who Santiago tongue lashed on the trial was just reacting what was being done to him. Regardless whether it was contempt of court, it was a reaction to what Santiago was doing. Lawyers sometimes do this in the court of law. It was a disgrace on their reputation. They would rather face the contempt and fine than takes all the what judges would say to them. And in the case of this “goof ball” Santiago, she has a taste of her own medicine. Either take it to or be taken immediately to the **** fire……..If I were Santiago, I will jsut take what the priest said. Either way she going there anyway with what she’s been doing and what she has done in the past……

    • Orson Powell

      daming judge dito … iisa lang ang judge .. ganoon lang ‘yon .

      baka mauna ka pa ke miria doon

  • Rex Nine

    Miriam buangit…

  • cho Halili

    Miriam Santiago should be impeach too…with her bad mouthing & bad law…& her tyrannical behavior..

    • Orson Powell

      do something … nobody’s holding you back.

      not unless you’re waiting for a bigger fool to do the act.

  • Simoun Alajero

    …i need to agree with Sen Santiago on this one….with due respect…the good father should not use the pulpit…to make a one sided public criticism….
    …it’s the classic sample scenario…why there is separation of church and state….as the clergy can muscle the public into submission…under the fear of excommunication…or under threat of eternal damnation….
    …demagoguery…at its extreme worst…

    • Egg Dev

      there is no issue in here about separation of church and state. father only criticized Miriam for calling a person a “fool” and/or “gago”. Being a judge doesn’t give any person the right to call someone a fool/gago. Yes, Sen. Santiago have the right to lecture them as even I am disappointed with how they handle the case, but to call them names? No less in public television? It just isn’t right. How would you feel if your boss called you “gago” in front of all your colleagues?

      • Odin .

        not an issue of church and state, priest nakialam sa impeachment which is a government proceeding. leave politics be and stop commenting.

      • Egg Dev

        nakialam sa impeachment? paki-explain kung pano siya nakialam sa impeachment? will his statement have an effect on the outcome of the impeachment? can’t you see that the issue raised by father to sen santiago is about how you should treat a person? i really can’t believe that you’re supporting the idea of calling people gago in public

  • Allan Espinosa

    Fr Arevalo is a fool. Now send me to hell Father.

  • Tony De Los Santos

    Tend to your flock Father.
    Leave the political posturing to those who understand it.

  • Justanother Person

    According to the commentary on the Catholic Douay-Rheims bible, the expression “Thou fool” is looked upon as a heinous injury, when uttered with contempt, spite, or malice and therefore so severely condemned.

    Our dear senator may say she is Catholic but she is actually a protestant, interpreting the bible according to her private revelation and picking only the teachings she wants to believe.

    • Orson Powell

      ooops .. your first stanza is fair …. and any right thinking individual might ponder on it a bit… based on the interpretation, the good father might have a case. but commentary is not always right … anything man-made is subject to the biases/slants of the writer ..

      now the 2nd paragraph .. this is where the word “fool” might just apply as well. where did you pick up this notion that protestants only pick up teachings they want to believe? with all due respect, i’d pick any denomination’s church attendee and pit him/her against a catholic devotee in matters of bible interpretations ..and who do you think will be able to defend his/her belief? my whole town is maybe 98% catholics but if you ask anyone about the basic foundation of his/her faith, the answer is very shallow ….

      “fools” are eveywhere kabayan .. even those who claim to be educated.

  • Edu Manza

    miriam, kawawa naman si mister kung lagi mong sinasabihan ng ogag

  • Mon Mayuga

    Ambassadior Senerez, Sir, How can you expect the Senate to punish one of its own? It has always been a collegial body which has been protective of its own.

    Just like the Arroyo-appointee-dominated Supreme Court which protects their chief, (Justice) Corona.

    • Orson Powell

      no different from the president’s cabinet and under secretaries. according to simeon, this is a very “clean” gov’t with a “tuwid na daan” to prosperity. are we on the road yet? “heads will roll” — if you see one mr. mayuga, give me a buzz. i’d like to take pictures …

  • Egg Dev

    seeing how Sen Santiago unmercifully berates people, i can’t help but understand why his son committed suicide

  • lolita marquez

    i just hope and pray that with these experiences, it is not too late for the maverick senadora to restrain herself in using street language .

    i do not fault her for it is clear that she has a psychologicaLproblem. (bi polar). with her immense knowledge of our constitution and aptly used in giving a fair tale of the court room drama, on my part i can tolerate her thinking that what if she favors the prosecution, will the good priest say the same of her?

    those who are with the defense find themselves, a little tolerant or wholely tolerant of her actuations and those who are with the prosecution see themselves as holier than her. in short our

  • Odin .

    remove the bible from the equation and tignan natin if these priests can present a solid basis of their comments. remove beliefs and lets see if they have enough logic to refute Sen. Defensor.

    Pure logic and reasoning makes the exchange of ideas better to arrive at the best understanding of what’s happening.

    Now, Sen. Miriam was insulted with the covering of the ears of one of the prosecution, so berate him, reasonable, gawin ba naman yan sayo in the highest court of the country when you are talking, priest commenting on that event, unwise, sentencing the senator to the fires of hell, wrong, anyway you see it, still wrong, a preacher of the lord does should never condemn others. tama ba?

    why can’t the church/priests leave politics be, isn’t it reasonable when one says publicity hound, the priest was paid, the priest is burara. kasi church and state has been long separated NOT UNITED.

    • Egg Dev

      remove the bible from priests? its like you’re saying be a judge/police without the law.
      Our laws are based on beliefs so if your saying remove beliefs then there would be nothing.

      so your saying an insult for an insult right? so this means that Sen Santiago and the prosecution should be quits by now. No contempt charges should be filed anymore and the issue should be over following your logic.

  • allandel

    why did miriam’s son commit suicide?
    because she was his mother, period!

    • msmakabayan

      That’s mean! Wag kayong mamersonal, ginagawa lang ni Miriam ang alam niyang nararapat!

      • markofthecross

         Ginagawa lang din ng pare ang sa tingin nya nararapat. Wag kang mamersonal!

  • randyaltarejos

    Wala ng itong ginagalang kahit pari pinapatulan. Mas lalo pa kung ordinaryong tao ka lang siguro. Dapat hwag na itong iboto sa susunod na elections. Yung dapat lang bumoto sa kanya ay yung mga kampon nya lang.

  • Jon

    Vested political interests Father.
    Halata kayo mashado.
    Mag-banlaw na lang kayo ng brief ng sacristan ninyo para mawala ang ebidensya.

  • actnow

    In other words, Kampon ni Satanas, this loud mouth is already in her home early on earth. The place she deserves , she is already living that “place” She was already condemned because as a living Christian, we follwo Jesus in all humility. Humility to her is non exixtence. Personlaity disorder of narcissism bordering psychosis, in legal parlance, she is exempted for punishment but the judgment of heaven, she is not. However, the Senate should require her to consult a clinical psychologist for a thorough test and recommended treatment as a way of putting back the dignity of the court whose one member beyond sane 

  • msmakabayan

    It’ s from Matthew 5:22, not 5:20…and the context is if one is angry as in hating a brother. Who is showing more than the one who instigated this impeachment? Maybe Fr. Arevalo could be of more use to guide his friend control his anger and vindictiveness. Miriam was reprimanding the prosecutors who were not doing their jobs right. Why can’t they take discipline? What’s wrong with her scolding them. She lectured them citing rules from law books and actual cases. She didn’t just throw garbage at them. Too bad it was done on national tv. But we can’t blame her…prosecutors love to use the media for their ends…so its just too bad that it worked against them this time!

  • noel

    mayabang talaga si madam di nya alam yong talento nya eh bigay ng dyos…dapat gamitin nya sa maayos sinasabihan na nga sya ng pari eh…. dapat maging humble sya di hambog…..pagbinawi sa kanya yan……kawawa sya….

  • Jeamergs

    May ‘chika minute’ na pala ngayon ang homily. Sana mag topic naman siya tungkol kay Zsa-zsa at kay Grace Lee.

  • actnow

    aS aGUIRRE SAID” sAYANG ANG GALING NIYA KUNG  MASAMA NAMAN ANG UGALI NIYA” This is a golden rule of every child taught by every parent but this loud mouth has never learned her lessons. She deserves the fire of the hhhheeeelllll.

  • GreenStallion

    Grabe naman itong si Sen. Meriam what’s wrong of Fr. Arevalo’s comment? Why is she so defensive? And even put malice to the priest by accusing him of intervening separation of church and state?  Wala na bang karapatan ang mga pari pag sabihan ang kanilang mga flocks kung may maling asal? If that is the case then she better leave the Catholic faith, matigas at mayabang ka Senator you don’t deserve to belong in this church. Kahit ikaw pa ang pinaka matalino sa buong mundo, kung ang pag uugali mo naman ay mas masahol pa sa aso walang bibilib sa yo. Mabuti pa umalis ka nalang dito sa pinas at pumunta ka na duon sa iyong International Crime Commission (ICC) appointment at duon ka mag hagis ng lagim.  

  • Ignacio150

    Fr. Catalino Arevalo, SJ is a very respected member in the Jesuit as well as in the Ateneo Community. However, this time he may have gone overboard.  Not even the Catholic Church can judge whether a person will go to hel l or not.  Though the Church can declare that a
    person is in heaven through Canonization. But can never judge or declare that a particular person will go to hel l or is in hel l.

    Fr. Arevalo and Fr. Manoling Francisco did a lot of damage to this country by endorsing a Madman for president.  I wonder what’s going on in their mind when they did this.   The two of you will be partly to be blamed for the damages that PNoy inflicted to the country.

    • garcia677

      . Arevalo is merely reminding of her vicious and disrespectful acts that went beyond the tolerable limits of mankind. Ano naman concern o kasalanan ni aquino at nasali sa batikos mo kay arevalo. Bayaran ka lang nina gloria at corona

      • Scandinavia43

        ang pagreply mo na ” 
        Bayaran ka lang nina gloria at corona ”  is too personal for your own good ..,,,, pag ikaw naman ang sinagutan “Bayaran ka lang ni Aquino.., magustuhan mo ba ? , which i believe you are not ….  hindi mo ba naintindihan na ang  issue ay magkadikit dikit ??????…. Ang pare ay walang KARAPATAN MANGHUSGA SA KAPWA NYA TAO , OR KAHIT SINONG ORDINARYONG TAO.  The Lady Senator  is a judge and she is highly capable & knows   what she is doing & saying !!!!

  • TinimbangNgunitKulang

    Brenda is one of the major reasons people believe there is hhell.

  • wilsontiu

    People and The Senate must be reminded that she was the one who fired first – more than once.  With impunity or total disregard for the dignity of the concerned, [for me] she had exceeded the tolerance limits of many humans on earth.  Now she is picking a fight with Father Arevalo.

    I suggest the International Criminal Court (ICC) study the matter in its entirety carefully, in light of the fact that she may sit there as member to dispense justice soon.

    Personally, I am alarmed!

  • yaptangcom

    In all probability, Sen. Santiago never saw a fight she didn’t like. But there comes a time when prudence and discretion are the better part of valor, especially when the object of her tirade and vitriol this time is a man of the cloth, a clergy. Which begs the question: Why can’t the firebrand senator show the same restraint and humility she exhibited when she locked horns with the Pacquiao’s last year?   

  • wilsontiu

    Seems like I can’t print this article without the 2 photos (on both sides) butting in, to prevent the printing of the pages after them.  Maybe people should boycott the products being peddled.

  • garcia677

    Miriam is an epitome of an impudent and devil may care adventurist who doesn’t give a hoot whom she blast with her badmouth. Sooner she will face an adversary who will blast her to kingdom come if she persist on her evil manner. Nakakahiya maging judge pa raw sa ICC

  • Labana

    just had a rally with a silent undertone DAW of supporting corona and the
    junked NBI director, …


    HOPE SO…




    sana ang dasal natin AY
    PARA SA LAHAT NG FILIPINO, at hindi para lang sa kung sinong politikong kinakampihan…
     kasi malilito ang DIOS AMA AT DIOS ANAK na si JESUS CHRIST, 



    para sa mga obispo,
    pastor, namumuno, ministro, pare, madre, at lahat ng lay workers at clergy ng
    kahit anumang simbahang Christiano. maraming salamat po,

  • Labana

    brenda MUST INHIBIT FROM the impeachment court and the voting… she already showed partiality in favor of corona_ birds of the same feather, flock together- parehong mga demonyo at mga baliw.

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