Why do so few wish to defend the Catholic faith in this supposedly “Catholic” country?
With the recent priest killings, I just want to let this out:
There are many, many Roman Catholics who dearly want to defend the faith and to protect it from attacks from all sides. The problem is that Catholics who want to defend the faith face discouragement and even soft persecution, not from those outside the Church, but most of all from within the Church, especially from clerics who think that attempts to defend the faith are contrary to “charity” and “ecumenism”, and from laypeople who think that religion ought to be all about positive vibes, affirmations and good feelings. The reality is that if you want to do apologetics, there will be clerics and insider laymen who will treat you like a leper or a dangerous madman.
We are by far the largest faith in the Philippines. Just yesterday (June 13, 2018) the Vatican published its latest statistics, indicating (among many other things) that Filipino Catholics number 85 million. 85 million! A huge number! And yet that huge number is almost invisible outside of Sunday Mass. Tiny sects such as the INC / ADD / Quiboloy’s outfit, some groups of “Balik Islam”, and the Dutertists treat us like a punching bag, because they know that the Catholic Church in the Philippines has no real muscle or desire to protect itself. Actually, there are many who want to protect the faith — but as I said above, the first thing they will have to contend with is hostility from their own co-religionists, and sometimes from their own priests. Why bother when the very people you wish to defend will be the very first to shoot you in the back? Who will want to go through that trouble, except madmen? (Count me among the madmen.)
Sometimes the complaint is made that apologists in the Philippines are often wild and uncharitable. There is much truth to this. But this is because the institutional Church has largely abandoned the young men and women who want to defend the Church to their own devices. Self-taught and with little real support except from a handful of priests, can one really expect most of them to have “churchly” formation?
That is why Fr. Nilo’s death in particular has touched a nerve. He was that rare priest who, without sacrificing charity and without denying the importance of dialogue, did not fear to speak out in defense of the faith. And now he is dead.