(Disclaimer: I am no longer a practicing Catholic; therefore, I no longer embrace the Catholic Church’s teachings and am currently studying with another religion. However, my parents are both devout Catholics.)
Today is Pope Francis’ last day in the Philippines and I am writing this entry to reflect on his visit and how some people unfortunately misbehaved on the WWW during his stay.
Out of all the popes that I have known or read about, Pope Francis struck me the most from the start of his term. Even if I am no longer a practicing Catholic, I greatly admire Pope Francis because of the way he teaches and how inclusive his teachings are to everyone. I also like how he “walks his talk”. He really is concerned for the poor and other marginalized people, even before he became a pope. He reaches out to those whom he feels need the most help, and his presence alone inspired millions of my countrymen during his stay. He also welcomes people from other faiths and even interacts with them. It is difficult to find someone who stands firm for his beliefs yet is respectful towards those who do not share the same faith or opinions.
This is why I am appalled at some of the things that I’ve read online when he was here in the Philippines. Sure, most of the posts and articles I’ve seen were very positive towards the pope, but some people were just too disrespectful and inconsiderate towards their Catholic countrymen. It is one thing to believe in something else other than the Catholic faith (or not believe anything at all), but it is another thing to be a douche about your opinion and mocking Catholics not only in the Philippines but also all around the world. It is offensive to tell a religious person that only dumb and uneducated people believe in a religion. It is offensive to tell a religious person that a religious leader whom he loves and respects is “a devil” and should be banned from the country. It is offensive to dismiss someone’s desire to see the pope or attend his Mass and asking what the big deal is. And take note, these posts just came out of nowhere. They posted these comments amidst a sea of messages of gratitude to the pope. So what does that tell you about these people’s characters?
Sure, I no longer agree with the Catholic Church’s teachings but I know that this visit is important to my countrymen and I know that the visit makes them feel that it strengthens their faith. Many poor people struck by typhoon Haiyan (PH name: Yolanda) have not yet recovered and this event gives them hope amidst all the sorrows that they faced. This is why I respect their desire to share in this great moment, all the while knowing that though I would never pray their prayers nor attend their rituals, I understand their situation and will not stop them from celebrating.
Instead of bashing Catholics all over the country, I wish they just took the time to read the articles that they commented on and think on how the pope’s message reaches out even to non-Christians and non-believers. After all, good virtues and values should not be limited to one religion, it should apply to everybody no matter what they believe in.