Media News Analysis Religion

Open letter to Archbishop Villegas

church in ruins
church in ruins

We ask Archbishop Socrates Villegas to provide proof that The Volatilian™ is a “fake news” site. Show us the inaccuracies in our coverage that amount to false reporting on which you make that libelous claim. If you cannot, then kindly desist from your attempts to stifle freedom of speech, freedom of the press and freedom of expression, all of which are enshrined in the Philippine Constitution.

The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) of which Archbishop Villegas is its president is not the arbiter of what should be deemed “fake news”. It has no rights whatsoever to sit in judgement; no secular authority appointed it to that position.

It may have an opinion but that’s a long stretch from providing irrefutable evidence. The CBCP is not an accredited press watchdog; it is the episcopal assembly of the Philippine Roman Catholic Church – and as such, by spreading false stories about those with whom it disagrees, it runs foul of everything the Christian faith teaches about respecting the views and rights of others. By making false accusations it is also guilty of proliferating false news itself.

The Index Librorum Prohibitorum – the list of books prohibited by the Catholic Church – was abolished by Pope Paul VI in 1966. And yet here we are, half a century later, with the Philippine bishops mounting a revival of similar Church censorship.
The Crusades ended in 1291, but the bloody butchery by Papal forces as they imposed their will on “non-believers” with the mantra “Convert of die” left a scar on the body of the Church that remained for centuries. The Catholic establishment in the rest of the world has learned the harsh lessons from those mistakes. But in the Philippines, the Church – through its bench of bishops – judging by its less-than-scholarly treatment of this issue, still believes in bullying brute force.

The Church has been guilty of many abuses over the past two millennia – particularly in the misuse of its authority. And by putting its imprimatur on a list of publications which it seeks to silence, it has once more succumbed to the temptation of flaunting its power to impose its dominance.

The Index Librorum Prohibitorum – the list of books prohibited by the Catholic Church – was abolished by Pope Paul VI in 1966. And yet here we are, half a century later, with the Philippine bishops mounting a revival of similar Church censorship.

In 1956, the-then Archbishop of Manila, Rufino Jiao Cardinal Santos, attempted to direct Congress to ban two novels written by National Hero, Jose Rizal, from the schools’ curriculum. The works had previously been banned by Spanish friars 60 or so years earlier. Santos failed, but here’s what he told the legislators:

“We, the Catholic Philippine Hierarchy maintain that these novels do contain teachings contrary to our faith … We cannot permit the eternal salvation of immortal souls, souls for which We are answerable before the throne of Divine Justice, to be compromised for the sake of any human good, no matter how great it may appear to be”.

And here’s what Villegas urged Catholics to do in his recent pastoral letter on the issue of fake news. “Refrain from patronizing, popularizing and supporting identified sources of ‘alternative facts’ or ‘fake news’ – (that means sources identified on the Episcopal Commission on the Laity website; sources on its banned list; ‘fake’ according to its interpretation); desist from disseminating (these) whether on social media or by word of mouth or through any other form of public expression”.

Identify the sources of fake news, he urged, “so that our brothers and sisters may be duly alerted and may know which media and which sites to shun”. The “Catholic faith obliges us”, he said.

Where’s the difference in intent between that and the rousing of the rabble to cry “Vermin” at anyone suspected of being a Jew on a German street in the 1930s and 1940s? This is a slippery slope than can lead back to a dark age of the Church when bishops and their counsels distilled a heady mix of fear and resentment in a process of alchemy that would make their cause righteous as the people bellowed “Death to the witch”.

In 2000, the CBCP launched “X-Stop”, an Internet server designed to block access to websites. It started by cutting access to 180,000 of them; within five months it had blocked 350,000. In that period the Church sold 50,000 pre-paid CBCPNet cards – prices ranging from PHP40 to PHP1,000. The plan was to get “X-Stop” into Internet cafes right across the archipelago’s ecclesiastical territories.

This is the same CBCP that threatened the previous president of this country, Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino, with excommunication if he persisted with the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act – even though under its Canon Law it couldn’t excommunicate him. So this is a body of bishops that’s not above issuing threats.

Those are the sort of lengths to which the Church hierarchy is prepared to go to enforce obedience to its will. The Roman Catholic Church of the Philippines pays little more than lip service to Article II, Section 6 of the 1987 Philippine Constitution which states “The separation of Church and State shall be inviolable”. It seems also to have little respect for Article IV, Section 4, which guarantees the freedoms of speech, expression and the press.

Our Saviour, himself, was tried and condemned by a powerfully elite clerical hierarchy (the Sanhedrin) on manufactured charges; and for similar reasons – they feared His voice.

According to its actions it believes it has the right to denigrate and subjugate all and any who express views that don’t strictly conform to its own. Is it really any wonder that the flock is flocking elsewhere to be close to Jesus?

Our Saviour, himself, was tried and condemned by a powerfully elite clerical hierarchy (the Sanhedrin) on manufactured charges; and for similar reasons – they feared His voice. It sought the support and collaboration of Pontius Pilate to have him tried, as the CBCP has sought the backing of elements from within the domestic media to do its bidding.

As far as we know the CBCP is not indemnified against prosecution under the laws of defamation – an offence that can be tried outside the jurisdiction in which it’s able to exert significant influence. The Catholic Church may not pay any taxes to the state, but it’s not above the law that covers everyone else – even though at times it’s acted as if it is.

The Volatilian™ is a bona fide news-analysis site which is wholly independent. It is not in the pay of any government, political party or organisation, nor any political or corporate interest. It is not remotely influenced from outside. The views it puts forward are those of The Volatilian™ and we make no apology for them.

Furthermore, The Volatilian™ does not block or harass its critics on its website. They are – and have always been – as welcome as any to share their opinions and comments. And there’s a reason for that. We believe that’s a far better way of providing a fulsome dialogue than censoring people’s views; excluding them from the discussion as Archbishop Villegas would like to do.

“If you repeat a lie often enough, people will believe it, and you will even come to believe it yourself”. – Joseph Goebbels, Nazi Germany’s Reich Minister of Propoganda, 1933-45

Unlike the CBCP we believe in free speech and freedom of expression and press freedom and we’re prepared to stand up for those principles. Everyone’s view – even those we utterly disagree with – has a right to be heard at The Volatilian™.

Let’s leave this with a selection of quotes from Joseph Goebbels, Nazi Germany’s Reich Minister of Propaganda from 1933 to 1945. (As an aside, Goebbels, a Catholic like his boss, Adolph Hitler, was excommunicated from the Church – though not for his part in suppressing the Jews; for stifling their voice along with all their other civil liberties – he was excommunicated for marrying a Protestant).

So here’s the Goebbels’ wisdom which shows the sinister nature of manipulating and smothering the views of others. He explains the effectiveness of constantly repeating a simple mantra – such as the CBCP’s claim of “fake news” – to drown out any dissent.

“If you repeat a lie often enough, people will believe it, and you will even come to believe it yourself”. And: “If you tell a lie long enough, it becomes the truth”. And: “The most brilliant propagandist technique will yield no success unless one fundamental principle is borne in mind constantly – it must confine itself to a few points and repeat them over and over”. And: “Propaganda must therefore always be essentially simple and repetitious”. And: “A lie told once remains a lie, but a lie told a thousand times becomes the truth”. And: “Not every item of news should be published. Rather must those who control news policies endeavour to make every item of news serve a certain purpose”.

In that, the danger of crippling those vital freedoms of speech, expression and the press through the use of propaganda and false claims should be apparent to anyone – including Archbishop Villegas.

The CBCP should be far more circumspect in its pronouncements on this issue; it also needs to listen to its congregants, not dictate to them or dismiss them out of hand simply because it doesn’t like what it’s hearing. Keep going down that road and its priests will eventually be preaching to empty pews.

“Do not judge, so that you will not be judged, since you will be judged in the same judgment that you make, and you will be measured by the same standard you apply.” – Matthew 7:1 & 2.

Perhaps, those who read this – whatever their views are – might like to communicate them directly to Archbishop Villegas at his Facebook page: www.facebook.com/frsocratesvillegas/ or at Twitter: https://twitter.com/frsocvillegas. Hopefully, his social media accounts will also accept them – not block them out as unwanted voices that should be silenced.

104 Comments

  • Archbishop Villegas patunayan mo na fake news ang The Volatilian ipakita mo ang katunayan , kung wala kang maipakitang proof , cguro dapat kang tumigil sa iyong pinagsasabi. Nkakahiya kayong naging Alagad ng Simbahan.

  • The big problem with these hypocrites is that if they think and profess they have the sole authority to mans conscience…. Choking the faithful of damnation…ill be damn …

  • To CBCP, before you accused somebody of fake news , how about correcting your fake doctrines and teachings which is the root cause of the world menace!! Mas nakakahiya sa diyos ang ginagawa nyo!! Puro aral na pangsanlibutan!! Sabagay, ang Simbahang katoliko ang kinatuparan ng mga hula ng diyos na siyangvmagliligaw ng mananampalataya sa diyos!! Daming commandments ang nakasabit sa bakuran ng simbahan!! Subukan mo munang isabit ung pinakaunang. Commandmen ng diyos!! At sundin nyo un!!

  • Sorry that I have to touch this very sensitive nerve. Soc has been venting his frustration and hurt for not having been made a cardinal on anybody and anything that would somehow satiate his need for appeasement for such lack of virtues, especially of humility.
    In other words, he just wants the church hierarchy to notice that he could have been a more powerful inquisitor had he been crowned a church prince.
    He calculated that by associating himself with the yellow power ( the Aquinos and the oligarchs who arrogated to themselves the authorship of EDSA revolution), he would be vested by the Church with cardinalship.
    But alas, his human ambition did not carry him to such pedestal.
    Hence, his frustration and anger.
    May God heal you Bishop Sic, er, Soc!

  • They think because they are so called “Men of God” they are righteous and perfect. But dont fool us because we know you all like wolves in sheep’s clothings. We demand also that you publish those priest that are/were sexual offenders which you are protecting.

    • Jun Valencia Why are you angry do you have a relative priest who do such act?… Who of us is “clean” anyway! God measures us in our good and bad “deeds” likewise our words! Everybody , all of us should embrace Jesus teachings! My failure, your failure, everybody’s failure is,our and their choice… “footprints-in-the-sand” let it be!🙏♥️🙏

    • right. maybe he was a priest before he commits such act and was ex communicated. you should read read news from time to time and not some tabloids.

    • Cristina B. Valeriano …that is so,so correct., if you’ve done it in Mindanao ,you will be just assigned in Luzon. I don’t hear any priest here in 🇵🇭that was excommunicated by his bad deeds … believe me catholic worshippers knows better than what we think!🙏😍

  • I was thinking if the Roman Catholic church is really a church in itself. By name it may be but by principle and action is not. They looked like a political party that will do everything just to get what they want. They shouldn’t and never get into trouble with those at politics. They are the representative of calm, love, mediation and solution-finders in any situation existing. But never to be the sources and main actors in providing lies and grab authority from those that they dont want. Such act is a desperate move

    • Separation of Church and State maybe neglected by this priest. Or they used to study about this philosophy, but never learns. For how could they teach the word of God if they are not the true church which God has chosen to spread and teach His commandments. They are just the servants of their own needs, and teaches what they learnt from people they serve.

    • This is just one example of begun Catholics around the world are leaving the church in droves. Not because they have lost the faith, because the church or it’s minders see fit to involve themselves in the politics of countries. The job of a priest does not involve the nurturing of a political ideology. God bless the Philippines and god will see fit to do as he will with this pretender.

    • Bishop Soc is not the Church. He can not speak in behaft of the Church concerning temporal and political matter. The Church will never cease to preach on matters of faith and morals. So Mr. Pinos while it is unfortunate and scandalous for member to act this way do not bring the name of the Church on the personal views of her members. However the Church when needed will give opinions on morality on the action, policy and laws of the State as these will affect the life of her members.

    • Sir Albert Butiu Montaya, soc villegas is not a church but he represent the roman catholic. Even if you accept that reality or not. Indeed, the church can speak for itself but mind you most of the time they are intevening the governments action. Remember sir, the 1987 constitution was drafted with many religious personalities involve. Yet they included the phrase, separation of church and state. So, those proponents of that word knows that the churh and state will never agree on many matters. Why involves the church in government activities? Why lead an act to let the setting president resign? Is that a Godly act of members of the Roman catholic church? Why other churches didn’t say anything how the government is run by Duterte? Only and only, the Roman Catholic do this most and all of the time. Morally speaking, the RC can loud its voice but not to put their feet on government shows. For running a church and government is two different things. Ika nga, the church must mind its own business while gov’t must do its task also.

    • Precisely mam winnie villanueva hassid. They can ear their grievances and disagreement but not to lead an act that can trigger the people mind to be confused. Sila yong nasa simbahan kaya maraming naniniwala sa kanila. Even to the extent that it is already becoming self-serving. Salamat at tayong mga Pilipino hindi naniwala sa kanila. Kya nga maipagmamalaki natin, atlast we are matured enough to analyze which is good for ourselve not becoming a dog-tied like individual

    • Mr. Pinos the law of the Church is very clear. The mission is kimited to salvation. In this Bishop Soc speak for the Church. This us clearly as I have said concerns only faith and morals. He can n be the voice or my voice on matters that

    • Mr. Hassid Card. Tagle has no jurisdiction over Arch. Soc. The jurisdiction of Card. Tagle is limited to the Metropolitan Archciocese of Manila. If you want to make a complaint direct your it to the Holy Father Pope Francis. He alone can call the attention of Bishop Soc.

    • It is sad that some people out of their hatred to the Church keep on dragging her on the sins and indiscretion of her members. Church holiness does not come from the goodness or quality of her members. The source of het holiness is Jesus her founder. The sins of her member is not attributsble to her as the crime of the citizen of the State is not attributable to the State.

    • Card Sin prevented what could have been a bloody arm confrontation. It is provindential his call for people power. Even then before that he was reminded by then Pope Jonh Paul II regarding his political statements.

  • Villegas baka nakalimutan mo tao kalang hindi ka ang diyos, taga dala kalang ng mensahi ng panginoon diyos, pero ano ang ginawa mo nag kawatakwatak at kumakalaban na mga katoliko sa inyo dahil sarili lang ang inaatupag ninyo. Noong mga panahon lolo at lola ko ang mahal naming pari ay bumibisita sa mga kabahayan, ngayon wala na.

  • Dr. Jose Rizal’s “Noli Me Tangere” immortalizes the history of the Philippines with the Church’s role… History repeats itself for the pattern is similar… Father Damaso is back and the Church wanted to influence the state!

  • Madali naman mapatunayan kung FAKE ka o hindi. Ilabas nyo registration papers nyo o accreditation as a LEGITIMATE media company. Di mo na kailangan sumulat pa ng open letter di ga

  • after spreading that “the volatilian” is one of the fake news, one bishop is now saying that they did not approved of its release and somebody did it without their permission. ..damage has been done, father….

  • Im sorry if i offended my fellow RC members. I have no intention in doing it. I only point some critical situations wherein we as Filipino must also speak if we know and see its not already good for us. This is only my view and opinion which i think must be an opener to all of us. Let us help this government run its course so that we will become a progressive and developed countries in coming years. United we stand, divided we fall. Mabuhay ang ating pangulo. Magkaroon sana ng mapayapa at maunlad na bansang Pilipinas

  • Ganyan talaga kapag di nila type ang balita sasabihin nilang fake…..ganyan naman palagi kapag walang natatanggap na biyaya o kaya papasinin mo ang kanilang kamalian….sigurado na aatakihin ka ng katakot takot….mga ugaling prayle….akala mo sila ang matatapat na alagad ng Diyod…..pweeeeeeeeeeh

  • I like wat the admin did hir.. The open letter is addressed to villegas.. W/c i believe is the proper way.. I am a devoted catholic.. And i feel pain everytime cbcp got involved in any controversy.. Because, somehow the entire catholic church is being dragged into it.. I am quite certain that villegas does not represent the whole of the church.. That wat he has goten into, is of his own responsibility… He s human after all, … Yes, i hate this priest and others like him.. But i pray that God wil enlighten their minds..

  • This is all I Can SAY .. . It is the duty of Archbishop Villegas to guide us. It is in your conscience if you will not believe. Words are all judgmental to Archbishop Villegas. I just cringed of the messages. I am thinking how you would treat your parents. . Will have to PRAY. This is all because of the defender of PDu30? Just watch and hear his words? It does not tremble you? ✌️✌️✌️✌️✌️PEACE on EARTH!
    Thank you Archbishop Villegas. It is an EYE OPENER of your wisdom. After all CARDINAL SIN is your mentor.

    • I’m a Catholic but I don’t believe that everything that archbishop villegas say is gospel truth or a message from above. We should not be misled by wolves in sheep’s clothing. God gave us the gift of intelligence and discernment. You will know the kind of tree by it’s fruit.

    • Guide us??? O baka naman gusto lang nya lalo lang tayo paniwalain sa mga kasinungalingan na ginagawa nilang totoo?? Mga manggagamit yang mga yan, mga alagad ng simbahan kuno, pero ang totoo naman eh taliwas sa kanilang posisyon ang mga pinag-gagagawa, yan yung mga taong ayaw ng tunay na pagbabago! Ang gusto lang nila eh sila lang yun mamuno, saka Ms. Raquel GPelayo, wag mo nang hayaan pang lasunin pa ng mga yan sng iyong kaisipan kasi puro kasinungalingan lang pinagsasabi ng mga yan, ni hindi nga nila maisabuhay yung totoong purpose nila bilang alagad ng simbahan, puro sila batikos sa pamahalaan, kahit pa na maganda yung ginagawa ng gobyerno, para sa kanila yung mga naiisip lang nila yung tama which is not right.

  • the Church has a mandate to look after our relationship with God and his Son, it does not have a mandate to govern us, that belongs to the government. So the Church needs to do its duty and stay out of things it does not have a mandate for.

  • SOC VILLEGAS YOU ARE NO AUTHORITY TO ADVICE WHAT IS FAKE AND WHAT IS THE TRUTH. YOU ARE NOT EVEN PIOUS TO GUIDE US SPIRITUALLY. YOU,ARE JUST A FUCKING BULLSHIT &ASSHOLE

  • Hindi na talaga nawawala ang Padre Damaso at Padre Silva sa panahon ngaun. Yan ang dahilan kaya marami ang tumatalikod sa Simbahang Katolika

  • I think Soc and other bishops should not use the Church for their personal interest. Beware of false prophets. The tree that doesnt bear good fruit will be cut off. Good tree bears good fruit. Bad tree bears bad fruit. Soc did you bear good fruit? Look at you people. Help us bear good fruit.

  • Every statement this Villegas said against the state cause more damage to the Romantic Catholics, his lies simply shows how damn a leader he is.

  • The way I see it, any website that reports stuff that are counter to or opposite to where the CBCP stands, they label as “fake”!
    For example, when that particular website shares the comments of a prominent personality which are supportive of the reinstatement of death penalty or of PDU30’s war on drugs – which are clearly against the Catholic hierarchy’s position – they would deem that website as reporting “fake” information!
    Which is why Rappler was not in their list.

  • The good Cardinal Sin must be rolling in his grave to see his supposed prodigy doing his shindig in the world of politics! Unfortunately for Bishop Socrates, his zigzag has turned into a zagzig catching all the flak from the netizens. If he does not collect his wits in time, he shouldn’t be surprised “to find his world keep getting smaller everyday!” as the song goes…

  • O ayan villegas marami kang kailangang sagutin dami nito kailangan patunayan na may pruweba ka kung hindi e talaga namang malilintikan ka sa taong bayan..

  • Appealing to Bishop Villegas and all bishops. Instead of dipping your fingers in politics,you must clean your own yard please. Try to check and monitor the Holy Catholic Church,your flocks that had been neglected because priests never dedicate their time teaching catechesis to their parishioners,adult catechesis. So many problems besieged our church bit your time is spend on watching and waiting for president Digong failures and condemn him immediately in public,behaving like traffic enforcers always on guard and after traffics violators. Where is charity there ? Where is your true concern to our people and country. If you are good why not join hands in doing good for our country and people aside that faultfinding in this present administration as if our president is like a berdugo,wild beast that tear us daily ?You must be concerned why many Catholics changed religion,you never wonder about that ?You are really a jaundice eyed bishop because of being yellowists. Please attend to the spiritual needs of your flocks,stop politicking because the kingdom of Jesus Christ is not in this world,so you,avoid worldly issues and niceties to your favorite politicians using the church to garner votes,

  • The list is a guide for Catholics. If you are not , it is not for you. Why complain? It is only a guide and up to us Catholics to follow it or not. Stop complaining non Catholics!