When I was in high school, in the years just after re-securing our much touted "Freedom of the Press", I used to go to church quite regularly. It was at that time that I began to notice that the Sermon given during the mass had become more and more political in substance. The priest who was saying mass would start reading pastoral letters by Jaime Cardinal Sin and on certain Sundays, it seemed, the Gospel of the day was used as a basis for commenting on the workings of government.
My mother, who is a Katoliko Sarado (a very devout Catholic), didn't like the political flavor injected into the homily and began talking with the priests, telling them that she would much rather have the sermons focus on the Gospel. Her advise was largely ignored until her request against politically flavored sermons was repeated by several more church goers.
Now, there is a huge difference between priests who use their sermons to mouth off their political opinions and a group of Bishops who tell the government what policies it should have or what actions it should do.
I don't think the Catholic Church should have a direct say in what the government does nor should their opinion matter.
But the reality is that many of our politicians do ask Bishops and Priests for their support during elections. Moreover, they also ask support from Iglesia ni Kristo and certain leaders of the Muslim faith. And just to round things off, they also get the support of Buddhists and even organized groups that don't subscribe to any religion at all (Masons come to mind).
Now, because of our 'utang na loob' culture (or a culture where relationships are based on debts of gratitude), politicians who get support from religious or non-religious organizations are somewhat obligated to heed their advise or follow through on whatever is promised to them during the election season.
If a politician gets support from the Catholic Church or cliques within the Catholic Church, you can count on them to remind the politician that they are against a couple of things:
1. Artificial Contraception
After Carlos Celdran's brief incarceration in the historic MPD-5, most people would think that things are coming to a head on the issue of the Reproductive Health Bill or artificial contraception or abortion.
I think this view might be somewhat focusing on a ripple rather than the wave that I hope is coming.
My chief beef with the RHB is not the huge number of HIV positive advocates that are ganging up to support it. Their agenda seems pretty clear, the RHB supports the distribution of free condoms and HIV awareness. Altogether, this is not a bad thing.
However, it does tend to veer away from an objective -- which in my view -- is more serious. That objective is OVER POPULATION.
It seems that every three years, our population estimate increases by 15 to 20 million. Right now, some people are estimating our population to be around 95 to 100 million. In three years, we may have around 120 million Filipinos.
Now, I think the RHB should focus MORE on curbing our population growth rather than making sure that more members of the "third sex" don't contract HIV and other STDs.