Like many history buffs I am waiting for the movie version of Da Vinci Code. I read the novel a few years back while convalescing from a possibly mortal illness. It is a work of fiction true and as Frankie Sionil-Jose has for disclaimers in his novels, “The characters and events are real in the reader’s imagination”
That is fiction true and through. Now only someone who is trapped in fantasy would believe that fiction is real life, though real life at times play fiction. But that is an extremely rare case.
Now what possessed some Filipino Catholic bishops and laypeople to demand the banning of the book? And one of these Catholic groups is an ant-pornography advocacy. Now when I read the “Code” I wasn’t at all erotically stimulated (The Song of Songs in the Old Testament is a better work of erotica) but like a good British procedural, my mind had to follow the clues. Only the clueless would think that the “Code” is porn!
These Catholics are extremely scared that the faithful will be led astray and the Church will fall. Thus the Faith needs to be defended. Well we have bad news for them. They should read their Agoncillo or Zaide at least. The Catholic Church in the Philippines has faced many heresies in its 500 year history. At first it had to deal with the “Babaylans”, the colurums in the Spanish colonial period. And it did so quite well that by August 13, 1898, when the Americans raised their flag at Fort San Antonio Abad many Indios were Catholic. Even Jose Rizal’s novels weren’t much of a threat. But a political consciousness was. The Aglipayan Schism perhaps is the first mortal blow to the Church, with a third of the Catholic population joining the nationalist Independent Church. But Papal directed reforms and the arrival of American Catholic clergy staved the Independientes and the Church grew while the Aglipayans lost what could have been the basis for a Church of the Philippines independent of Rome.
And forget Protestantism. It barely made headway with the masses. Some of the elite were converted and that’s it. The Japanese invasion while resulting in the destruction of historic Catholic churches, did not even strike a significant blow to the Church.
The Catholic Church has Christ’s promise to Peter. The Gates of Hell and Hell itself will never prevail. And the “Code” is barely something from hell. Dan Brown isn’t evil incarnate.
Well the Church still is immovable in the Philippines. It has survived the Born Agains. When they preached the Bible according to their own interpretation, the Church had the Bible studied by the laity supervised by its Magisterium. The Protestants have made an ecumenical modus vivendi and Catholics work with Protestants on many issues. Attending Protestant services is no longer a sin. The Aglipayans do the same. Their priests face the same perils as the Catholic padres when espousing human rights. The Church has weathered the Iglesia ni Cristo and that sect is in a battle for souls not with the Pope but with a teleevangelist with a populist and earthy bent.
So what are these Bishops and laity worried about. Are they worried about losing their political influence with citizens. I have unsolicited advice for them. Can you preach and live the Gospel once again?