How do we become Catholics?

SHOOTING STRAIGHT - Valeriano Avila - The Freeman

Because a week ago, I wrote about the partnership with the Cebu Archdiocese with PLDT-SMART for the celebration of 500 years of Christianity next year in Philippine history, where my dear friend Fr. Mhar Balili has been chosen as the Chairman for the 500 Years of Christianity Celebration, I asked him to be my special guest for the show tonight.

So watch this very interesting talk with Fr. Balili tonight on SkyCable’s channel 53 at 8 p.m. with replays on Wednesday and Saturday same time and channel. We also have replays on MyTV’s channel 30 at 9 p.m. Monday and at 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. on Wednesday and Friday.

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After my column about the celebration of 500 years of Christianity next year in the Philippines, I got this email from an unknown source questioning this holding of this historic occasion. I really don’t know if the reader read my column, so I would be discussing these issues in both my columns.

“I can't seems to understand why you and the Archdiocese of Cebu joined the bandwagon of celebrating 500 years of Christianity next year. Isn't it a history that the milestone of Christianity is 1565? So, why celebrate it next year 2021 if we take it into account when Fray Pigafetta started Christianizing Filipinos or for that matter Cebuanos in 1565?

“I remembered in 1965, the Philippines celebrated 400 years of Christianization in the Philippines here in Cebu. I was a high school student at that time. So, why is this brouhaha of celebrating 500th years of Christianity next year when we still have 65 years to go to celebrate it. Maybe 500th year of the discovery of the Philippines by Magellan and the Spaniards is better but not 500th years of Christianity and not counting the first mass in the country in Limasawa in 1521 which there was no historical evidence of converting any Filipino at that time. The CBCP has records on this and it cannot be distorted and denied anymore. Unless, if they revise history then they will be committing crime against history and will become revisionists much worse than an ordinary criminal.

“So, stop this hullabaloo of celebrating 500 years of Christianity in this country next year. Again, we still have 65 years more before we celebrate such event. This is my opinion and have a good day.”

It seems that this fellow is a senior citizen already as he was in high school when I was also in high school. But, yes, some people just don’t see things that the Cebu Archdiocese sees things these days.

Yesterday, I had a TV show entitled “My Catechism” with my partner Fr. Lucas Inoc. So I asked him how to reply to this question and he told me how we become Catholics. It was through our Baptism when our parents brought us to Church and give us our names. This doesn’t mean to say that at that time, we were already catechized into the Catholic Church. That only happens years later when you go to school.

So let me say it here clearly and loudly that next year’s 500th celebration of the Christianization of the Philippines is not wrong. Sure, when Miguel Lopez de Legazpi came here in 1565, it was only then that he started to catechize Filipinos or the Cebuanos living here, especially taking note that the family of Humabon kept the statue of the Sto. Niño well-preserved. Legazpi bombarded the natives and burned many homes, it was noticed that the Sto. Niño was blackened from the fire that raged the place that the statue was kept.

Mind you, no one is trying to change history here or committing a crime. Sure, we respect the opinion of the letter writer. However, we expect him to respect ours. Mind you, in 1521, there was an incident in the Catholic Church that led to the formation of Protestantism led by Martin Luther. The first schism in the Catholic Church was between the Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church. So let’s call that reformation the second schism in our Church. If today Christianity in the Philippines has a worldwide effect, it is due to the fact that most Filipinos are poor and have to work abroad especially in Europe or the Middle East where they take care of children from Muslim families and help the empty churches of Europe restored to greatness.

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