The Catholic Church in the Philippine Public Sphere

Ranilo B. Hermida


Whether religion has a place in the public sphere is a complex issue. Many thinkers believed that the rationalization process of modernity would result in secularization and banish religion into the private sphere. Religion has not only survived; it has even taken an active role in the political affairs of the state. This has been the case in countries like the Philippines where the publicity and activism of the Catholic hierarchy in the political public sphere of the country have been sustained and to some extent dominant. Said publicity and activism are carried out in the name of religion and the pursuit of a religious mandate accordingly. Although the reactions to such public involvement have not always been the same, these varying reactions still make sense in light of some theoretical understanding about the specifically political role of religion in the modern society. The aim of this paper is to make a modest contribution to such understanding by reflecting on the place and function of religion in the public sphere. It trains a special focus on the Philippine experience and employs mainly the view of Jürgen Habermas, an “agnostic and secular thinker” but one who has written extensively on the public sphere and recently revised his stance from thinking that religion will be overtaken by the rationalization of society to admitting that religion has something important to contribute in the public sphere.


Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines; critical theory; democracy; law; people power revolution; reproductive health law

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