MANILA, Jan. 29, 2013—While Church leaders remain mum on the controversy ensuing from a court ruling that convicted pro-contraception tour guide Carlos Celdran for disrupting a Eucharistic celebration at the Manila Cathedral in 2010, Catholic netizens have voiced their opinion against the tour guide’s public display of disrespect to the holy gathering.
Facebook users who are members of the YouthPinoy fan page were one in saying that Celdran deserve his jail term of a minimum of two months to a maximum of one year for disrupting an ongoing Mass by dressing up as Jose Rizal and holding up a placard with the word “Damaso” before the Papal Nuncio, Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales, several bishops and other religious.
Apparently referring to the villainous friar “Padre Damaso” from Rizal’s novel “Noli Me Tangere,” Celdran said he did the stunt to protest the Church’s opposition to the now enacted Reproductive Health Bill.
What the Facebook users criticized though is not Celdran’s pro-RH stance but his improper behavior towards the Church.
“Is nothing sacred anymore? Has it come down to a place where even in the celebration of the Most Holy Mass we are not protected?” said Christine Elizabeth Feliciano.
Meanwhile, No-el Salvacion said “the publicity-stunt-artist Carlos Celdran is prosecuted, not because of the violation of free speech, but because of his public display of arrogance, offending the sensibility of a religious ecumenical forum.”
“We are bound by law to be ethical. Celdran was unethical and pompous, even pretentious of wearing a Rizal outfit, and he ought to be made accountable to what the law prescribes. Unethical? It’s Jail time!” Salvacion added.
For his part, Ron Corteza said Celdran deserves to be jailed for his actions, adding that “Celdran did it within the church premises and interrupted a religious event.”
Jose Luis Nava shared Corteza’s position, saying “for me, it’s really a yes (he deserves it). His remarks were too harsh and discriminating especially (since) the topic is about life and the RH Bill which we are all against.”
Robert Queddeng, meanwhile, asked what Celdran would get if he did the stunt inside a Chinese temple or in a Moslem Mosque.
“Aside from desecrating and mocking the Manila Cathedral, the premiere Church of the Philippines, and the Mass being celebrated in the presence of foreign visitors, he also mocked our national hero Jose Rizal… I’m just wandering. What if Celdran did a similar thing in a Chinese temple or perhaps in a Moslem mosque?” Queddeng said.
But there are also responders in the YouthPinoy vox populi thread who said the incident’s being brought to court was not necessary, adding that the Manila Cathedral officials should have forgiven Celdran for the incident.
Roy Alfonso Santiago even said that Celdran does not deserve his sentence, adding that “kahit na binastos niya ang misa, sana ay kinausap nalang siya ng mga pari ng mabuti, pinangaralan ng mabuti, ipaalam sa kanya na maling mali ang ginawa niya. He doesn’t deserve the 2 months to 1 year in jail. Nasaan ang tinuturo ngayon ng simbahan na ‘pagpapatawad?’ Sana po ay makarating ang sagot ko na ito sa mga Obispo at kung maari po ay ipaliwanag po ninyong mabuti ito sa aming mga kabataan.”
However, Olemrac Lodcop contradicted Santiago.
“For sure Mr. Celdran made his explanation after that media seeking acts, the Catholic Church also had explained her cause of action. No one is above the law. Let it be a lesson for all. We go to school to learn how to follow rules, how to respect every individual and above all Social Institutions that drive our society into right path,” Lodcop said.
For her part, Donna Quiambao-Elefante defended the Church officials who sought justice from the courts to discipline Celdran for his action.
“If he violated the law then he has to answer to the law. It’s not the CBCP who put him to jail. It’s his own actions which brought him to his fate. So it’s not fair to say that the priests should know how to forgive because they are teaching it. It’s the Revised Penal Code who gave the verdict. And I’m sure he is already forgiven. We should take responsibility of our own actions,” Quiambao-Elefante said.
An apparently irked Niña Rusiana Guzarem Repentance said Celdran should repent for his actions, saying “the Mass is the highest form of worship. Kung tutuusin nga, highest form of sentenxa ang dapat sa kanya!”
It was recalled that a Manila court found Celdran guilty of violating Article 133 of the Revised Penal Code which penalizes offending religious feelings. Article 133 punishes anyone who “in a place of worship or during the celebration of any religious ceremony, shall perform acts notoriously offensive to the feelings of the faithful.”
The controversial court decision dated December 14, 2012 has stirred public debate on whether or not Celdran deserves his sentence. Celdran’s critics and supporters alike have been publicly airing their position over social networking site Facebook and microblogging site Twitter, where the hashtag #FreeCarlosCeldran even made it among the trending topics.
As of press time, Church officials would not react on the issue considering that they have not yet received a copy of the court decision. (YouthPinoy)