Press Release
March 5, 2012


Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago, responding to a front-page Inquirer article yesterday where a priest claimed that she should be consigned to the fires of hell, said: "Under Vatican 2, there is no hell; but even if there is, there is nobody there."

Santiago said that in theology, hell is not a geographical place, but is a metaphor for distance from God.

"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," she said.

The senator said she was told that the priest had approached certain journalists to make sure that his homily would be reported in the print media.

"It is like St. Paul writing letters to the Corinthians, and begging them to publicize his letters. This priest sounds very much like a publicity hound. And I thought humility in spiritual matters is a virtue," she said.

Santiago said that under Vatican 2, the Catholic Church no longer clings to the monopoly on truth.

"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," she said.

Santiago holds, not only a law doctorate, but also a masters in theology from the Maryhill School of Theology, where she got high marks.

"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," she said.

The senator said that the social media has been showered with angry comments from young people attacking religious meddling in the current impeachment trial, instead of concentrating on the immorality of corruption.

Santiago said that the widespread popularity of certain books against religion and against certain churches has been triggered by the disaffection of young people who no longer accept the claim to absolute morality by certain clerics.

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

Santiago also criticized the priest for making a literal interpretation of the Bible.

"Under Vatican 2, the story of Genesis is no longer a historical fact but a myth. The Bible should not be read literally, but should be read in its Aramaic context. Unfortunately, some of the religious refuse to accept the changes started by Vatican 2," she said.

"I can engage in a public debate with the priest, and we can exchange quotation for quotation from the Bible. But that would be foolish, because the Bible can be interpreted in as many ways as there are Christian churches," she said.#

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