A Filipino atheist’s letter to Pope Francis

Opinion & Analysis Philippines Jan 9, 2015 at 4:57 pm

ph-atheist-letter-to-pope-20150103_47395AB0CC104D92831D853EF35F0F0ADear Pope Francis,

As someone who does not believe in the existence of a god, some people might assume that your visit to the Philippines would not matter very much to me. Maybe, to some, it would be just like me walking past a church on a Sunday, bearing momentary witness to the rituals and pronouncements of something I don’t believe in, and thus feeling nothing.

But as much as I do not believe in any religion’s claim to authority, I do know that a visit from the head of the Roman Catholic Church still matters immensely to me – just not in the same way it matters to quite a lot of my countrymen, who are, to put it mildly, rapturous in glee at the thought of your presence. (And I don’t blame them. I was a 9-year-old Catholic schoolgirl when John Paul II came over, and immersed as I was in rote rehearsals of “Tell the World of His Love” in the school gym day after day, I was pretty damn excited, too.)

Your visit matters to me because not since the heyday of the Reproductive Health Bill debates a couple of years ago has secularism been in so much danger in this country (and believe me, it’s violated here a lot). And that’s troubling not just for me, but for anybody, regardless of their faith or lack thereof.

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