A Letter to A Lady Named Valery, Writer, Court Reporter

img_0572Dear Valerie,

I am so thankful that you have been keeping in touch in spite of your busy schedule. I too am busy in the mission field, teaching and counseling people. I am thankful that you have shown interest in confronting the issues that divide us religiously. This is a good start.

I am glad too that you and Buff can talk about Irish things; Irish heritage is one commonality you both have. Buff’s wife Rosita and I are both Filipinos; she used to be from Cebu, where I am presently residing. I am thankful that we three speak English; that is one commonality we all have.

I don’t know what’s Buff’s religious background is, but I used to be Catholic. Valerie, I left the Catholic Church not because of its abusive priests nor because of my abusive Catholic neighbors. Abusiveness, corruption, bad attitudes— these are common to all religions, be it Catholic, Protestant, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, or Jewish. I left the Catholic Church because I was a searcher and I was looking for the truth.

Having been a Catholic, I know whereof I speak. Having been a Catholic, I also want to be fair with you. Always.

Let’s go farther and beyond what limits us. I am talking about “your church” and “my church.” If we allow our religious conventions, our religious beliefs, to limit us, we may not find the truth, and if we do, we may explain it away– because the truth may hurt, and it is a common human weakness to protect self from hurts and harms and from what we think diminishes human dignity. An attack on the doctrine of a church is explained by some as an attack on “our human dignity” simply because “we are members of that church” and that church has become our religious fort, our refuge, our all and be-all. Let’s go beyond this; let’s compare what “my church” teaches and what the Bible teaches, without being too defensive about “our church’s teachings.” The Bible is truth; let us accept it at its face value, let us not deny it and water it down to defend what “our church” teaches.

I will be open-minded, as I had been when I was still a Catholic. If you think I am teaching an error, or if you think my “facts” are wrong, point it out to me. I will be man enough to accept my faults. But I will ask you, Valerie, to do the same. I hope that’s fair. And I hope you don’t mind too when I say that if and when I engage in a religious discussion, my purpose is salvific. I am trying to save a soul from error. If that too is your purpose, you will try to convince us who disagree with you of the truthfulness of your position.

You mentioned the word “ethical.” I like this word, and I will try to handle you rightly as I would handle a soul so fragile and so religiously different from mine. I will have respect of you and anyone, even if you differ from me.

You also mentioned the word “honesty.” I think I have always been honest with what I feel towards anyone, and if I say I respect you, I really mean it. More so, I am honest too about handling the truth. I will not allow my human pride and my likes and my dislikes to withhold it. If a truth comes right smack onto my face and shake the very foundation of my being, I will start asking myself the question: “Where did I do wrong?’

The truth that I’ve read and heard has carried me beyond the door of Catholicism toward the bosom of my God. I am comfortable with it.

Anyone can point out the truth of the Bible, can teach it, can proclaim it—and it does not matter whether he is a Jew, a Muslim, a Catholic, or a Protestant— and I can agree with that truth that he is saying. It does not of course mean that I agree with his Jewish religion, with his Muslim religion, with his Catholicism, or with his Protestantism.

What I am saying is that the truth is above all these—Judaism, Muslimism, Catholicism, or Protestantism. Let us have the truth only. As our Lord has said, “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). God bless. And thanks.



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