What the Filipino Church will celebrate in 2021 is not colonialism but 500 years of Christian faith, which “the natives of these islands welcomed as a gift, albeit from people who were not necessarily motivated by the purest of motives,” writes Mgr Pablo Virgilio Siongco David (pictured), Bishop of Kalookan and vice president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP).
Two days ago, Mgr David did not mince his words in his response to Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte. On Friday, the latter had criticised the celebrations for the important anniversary. “Why would I give something for the celebration?” Duterte said. “When Magellan came here, he brought the cannon and the cross,” Duterte said. “But because the cross is there, the natives immediately embraced them,” he added.
The bishop points out that the natives did not equate Christianity with colonialism. Instead, “Our own ancestors were intelligent enough to accept what was good and reject what was evil”. In fact, “At some point, the faith that they had embraced was no longer alien to them. It had succeeded in taking root on the fertile ground of our innate spirituality as a people.”