Miriam to priest: Hell? Fight pedophilia instead

Sen Miriam Defensor Santiago fumes at a priest for saying she is worthy of the fires of hell for calling prosecutors "gago"

MANILA, Philippines – Wha the hell?! 

Hell hath no fury like Sen Miriam Defensor Santiago scorned. Santiago fought fire with fire, criticizing a priest who said she is worthy of the fires of hell.

Santiago responded to a report of the Inquirer quoting Fr Catalino Arevalo, a known Jesuit theologian, as saying, “If you call anybody ‘you fool,’ you are worthy of the fires of hell. And she called them (prosecutors) gago, which is Filipino for fool, before millions of people.”

A day after the report was published, the senator shot back in a statement. She said that in theology, hell is not a geographical place but a metaphor for distance from God.

“Under Vatican 2, there is no hell, but even if there is, there is nobody there,” she said. “The priest is saying that he is close to God, and I’m not. I say to the priest, judge not, that you shall not be judged.” 

Aside from her law doctorate, Santiago holds a masters degree in theology from the Maryhill School of Theology in Quezon City. 

Arevalo made the statement on Saturday, March 3, in a homily at the Edsa Shrine. 

He said his message came from Jesus as written in Matthew 5:22, “But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgment. And if you insult a brother or sister, you will be liable to the council. And if you say, ‘You fool,’ you will be liable to the fires of hell.”

The spiritual adviser of the late President Corazon Aquino, Arevalo also told the Inquirer, Santiago should make a formal apology for God to forgive her.

Last week, Santiago called prosecutors in the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona “gago” (fools) for dropping 5 out of 8 articles of impeachment, and issuing public statements that they are sure of a conviction.

Not holier than thou

Santiago has no plans of apologizing. She accused Arevalo of asking journalists to publish his homily, calling him a publicity hound.

The senator also lambasted Arevalo for interfering in politics and taking the Bible literally.

“The Constitution provides for a wall of separation between church and state. A priest cannot violate the law in the guise of criticizing a senator-judge with the ulterior motive of promoting his own political agenda.”

“That priest should spend his energy fighting pedophilia within the Catholic Church, instead of meddling in politics and serving to divide church practitioners.”

Pedophilia is a controversy that has hounded the Catholic Church, with allegations of a cover-up.

FIRES OF HELL. Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago says Fr. Catelino Arevalo should not meddle in politics.

Santiago also said the priest holds no monopoly over truth. She said there is disaffection among the youth against religion and certain churches because they no longer accept “certain clerics’ claim to absolute morality.”

“Under Vatican 2, priests and nuns should be treated like everyone else. They are not special people just because they have joined a religious community. It does not make them any more smarter or holier than you and me.”

‘Walang patawad’ and the G word

The fiery exchange between Santiago and the priest sparked a hot discussion online. 

Some Twitter users believe Arevalo should not have been quick to judge Santiago. Others though think the senator misinterpreted the homily.

Here are just some of the tweets on the issue: 

– Rappler.com 



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