Latest Stories


With respect to faith

In one of its more famous passages, the author of the book of Ecclesiastes says that there is a time for everything and everything has its time.

Tour guide and performing artist Carlos Celdran should have been guided by this adage in determining whether or not to barge into the middle of a religious ceremony at the Manila Cathedral a year ago to protest what he felt was the interference of the Catholic Church on a matter of State, that is, the then Reproductive Health bill.

Otherwise Celdran before his sacrilegious intrusion should have at least been enlightened by his friends and fans among the self-styled culturati about the acceptability of faith-based opinion in the public square.

Note that not a single envoy branded Pope Benedict XVI’s speech at the general assembly of the United Nations a few years ago as ecclessiastical meddling into global civic affairs.

Even advocates of secularism like University of the Philippines sociology professor Randolph David agrees that persons of faith are entitled to publicly manifesting their opinion on pressing issues.

With the right counsel, Celdran would not have come to grief as he just did.

Sadly the thespian is just one among millions in this world who imagine a wedge between Church and State, as if these two realms cannot possibly converge in pursuit of the common good, as if they were worlds isolated from each other, incapable of mutual dialogue.

Such a mindset ignores for instance the parade of heroes in the history of nations who drew strength from their faith, from Buddhism’s Aung San Suu Kyi of Myanmar to Catholicism’s Lech Walesa of Poland.

One year ago, Celdran stepped into the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Intramuros. Posing as Dr. Jose Rizal, he stood in front of the church’s main altar and raised a placard with the name “Damaso,” a reference to the abusive Franciscan friar in Rizal’s “Noli Me Tangere.”

This happened while members of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines and the non-Catholic Philippine Bible Society held a ceremony to launch a free Bible distribution project.

For his act, Celdran was convicted last Monday of disrupting worship and offending religious sensibilities in violation of Article 133 of the Revised Penal Code. He was sentenced to up to a year in jail by Manila Metropolitan Trial Court Judge Juan Bermejo Jr.

Celdran now claims that his conviction is the result of the vengefulness of modern-day Damasos in the Catholic Church who purportedly want to get back at him for his reproductive health advocacy.

But the man or woman on the street simply sees the case as a matter of basic decency and respect for peoples of faith, (virtues that inform our Constitution); a question of determining the correct place and time for, and way of airing one’s convictions.

Celdran knows very well that in this country, free speech and free expression on reproductive health or whatsoever issue are and will always be protected.

But he must not pretend that such protections constitute a license to screw up worship sessions and mock freedom of religion.

Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter

More from this Column:

Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Carlos Celdran , Catholic Church , Damaso , Dr. Jose Rizal , faith , Manila Cathedral , Noli Me Tangere , Religions

Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
  1. 12 senators on Napoles ‘pork’ list, says Lacson
  2. Save the queen? Aide takes fall for Enrile, Gigi Reyes
  3. Palace prepared to charge its allies
  4. Senator’s kickback from pork bigger than those of Enrile, Estrada, Revilla – Lacson
  5. Napoles turnaround alarms whistle-blowers
  6. What Went Before: Malacañang allies alleged involvement in pork scam
  7. Napoles spills beans on Enrile, Estrada, Revilla – De Lima
  8. Timeline: Napoles tell-all
  9. HK apology: Why Estrada and not Aquino?
  10. Cedric Lee’s cohort flies out of PH despite look-out order – De Lima
  1. Napoles spills beans on Enrile, Estrada, Revilla – De Lima
  2. Gigi Reyes pins blame on aide
  3. Estrada: Gigi Reyes won’t testify vs JPE
  4. Bernice Lee arrested by NBI team
  5. Enrile chief aide back in PH ‘to face charges’
  6. ‘No real progress in PH if dynasties not dismantled’
  7. Suspect in Vhong Navarro’s mauling wants to turn state witness – De Lima
  8. Reckless driver endangered lives of Aquino, entourage–report
  9. More legal woes for Cedric Lee
  10. Henares on Pacquiao bashing: I did not start this
  1. KL confirms Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 ended in Indian Ocean
  2. MRT passengers pass the hat for 6-year-old Ashley
  3. Rookie, lady cops lauded for quick response to MOA heist
  4. Malaysia averts another air tragedy; pilot lands troubled plane safely
  5. Revilla says he was joking; Lacson stands by his story
  6. Revilla ‘consulted’ Lacson on how he evaded arrest
  7. Cudia, dismissed for lying, got 99% in conduct
  8. Kim Henares needs a reprimand, says Cayetano
  9. Hammer-wielding robbers cause chaos at Philippines’ Mall of Asia
  10. Napoles spills beans on Enrile, Estrada, Revilla – De Lima


  • 4 Etihad passengers not yet located
  • DAR to complete installation of Luisita land reform beneficiaries in May
  • Ex-COA chief and co-accused in Arroyo plunder case nabbed
  • Kris Aquino’s ex- close in security named new Air Force chief
  • The ‘link diagram’ that killed ex-Bataan police officer
  • Sports

  • NLEX holds off Jumbo Plastic for a playoff berth
  • Pacquiao can dodge tax issues
  • F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone rejects bribery charges
  • Big Chill freezes Cafe France to arrest skid
  • Pacquiao has to go through PBA Rookie draft
  • Lifestyle

  • Summer Mayhem: The ultimate beach experience
  • A haven for steak lovers
  • Gongs and southern dances star in a workshop at San Francisco Bayanihan Center
  • This woman ate what?
  • Photos explore dynamics of youths’ sexual identity
  • Entertainment

  • Smithsonian wants photos, videos for ‘Day in the Life of Asian Pacific Americans’
  • What Garcia Marquez left behind
  • Has Ai Ai fallen deeply with ‘sireno?’
  • Sony developing live-action Barbie comedy
  • California court won’t review Jackson doctor case
  • Business

  • Metro Pacific acquires stake in Victorias
  • How ‘one percent’ economic elite was uncovered
  • Facebook profits triple as mobile soars
  • Insular Honors Sales Performers at Testimonial Rites
  • Apple increases stock buyback, will split stock
  • Technology

  • Vatican announces hashtag for April 27 canonizations
  • Enrile in Masters of the Universe, Lord of the Rings?
  • Top Traits of Digital Marketers
  • No truth to viral no-visa ‘chronicles’
  • ‘Unlimited’ Internet promos not really limitless; lawmakers call for probe
  • Opinion

  • Editorial cartoon, April 24, 2014
  • Talking to Janet
  • Respite
  • Bucket list
  • JPII in 1981: walking a tightrope
  • Global Nation

  • Tiff with HK over Luneta hostage fiasco finally over
  • DOLE sees more Filipinos hired by South Koreans
  • Filipinos second-shortest in Southeast Asia
  • Obama to visit Filipino soldiers in Fort Bonifacio
  • Fil-Am youth conferences unite under one theme
  • Marketplace