How young ex-Protestants, agnostics are becoming friends

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MANILA, June 3, 2015—“King James” in one hand and “Ang Biblia” in the other, members of the Catholic Faith Defenders (CFD) Metro Manila stage mock debates to hone their familiarity with Scripture.

But there is more to these apologists than their ability to recite memorized verses. It’s called relationship. Community. Solidarity.

More than the chance to hone their debating skills, it is their love for the truth and the desire to win friends that bring many students and yuppies, former anti-Catholics and agnostics together to study the faith. (Photo: Raymond A. Sebastián)

Becoming better Catholics

“I may already know to how to parry every accusation critics hurl against the Church. But more than my debating prowess, what I am more thankful for is the leadership skills I gained and the new friends I found in CFD. They inspire me to become a good Catholic, and I strive to be better daily,” shared Michael Vincent Suico, president, CFD Quezon City, which has become “barkada” of former agnostics, ex-Protestants and formerly not-so-serious Catholics.

According to him, the Gospels are also about winning friends, “loving them as one’s own blood brothers and sisters.”

“If your friendship is deeply rooted in Christ, I assure you no one can destroy it,” said the young accountant.

Debunking Catholic caricatures

Catholics are allegedly “no good” when it comes to reading, let alone quoting, the Bible. One less than flattering stereotype is of a regular churchgoer who scratches his head in embarrassment trying to locate just one verse.

This image is fast-changing in ways few expect.

Thanks in part to social media and a growing awareness that the Church in the Philippines must be proactive if she is to exist for the next 500 years, more and more Filipinos have come to embrace and live up to what history has always proved: that Catholics are the original “Bible Christians.”

Who would have thought this realization and their thirst for God’s written word would bring together people who used to view one another with suspicion?

United by Bible

Between 80 to a hundred Catholics, among whom many formerly lax ones, ex-Protestants, and agnostics, from different episcopal sees in Metro Manila and elsewhere, meet every 4th Sunday of each month to study and discuss Scriptures in the light of Sacred Tradition and the Church’s teaching office.

They do this in response to the call of the local bishops as expressed in the Second Plenary Council of the Philippines (PCP II) of 1991 to rediscover the Bible in view of the challenges various anti-Catholic groups have raised.


Parts of PCP II 222 read: “There is the challenge to read and study, pray over and love the written Word of God … May the Bible, read in the Church, occupy the place of honor it deserves in every Catholic heart, home, and parish.”

It adds: “We are also challenged to provide catechesis which will enable Catholics ‘to make a defense to anyone who calls you to account for the hope that is in you’ (1 Peter 3:15), and lead to a mature personal commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ, and a living relationship with Him, the Father, and the Holy Spirit.”

New-found love for Sacraments

According to Suico, defending the faith makes sense.

Members of Catholic Faith Defenders – Quezon City get serious about the faith. (Photo: Raymond A. Sebastián)

“We do not learn the faith just for the sake of knowing it. We are duty-bound to practice what we know is true and right. When you are into apologetics, you will appreciate the sacraments better. Waking up early on Sundays for Mass will no longer pose problems. The fear of confessing one’s sins will vanish,” he added.

Living what one defends

For Kristoffer Torralba, also an accountant, confession was not always easy.

“I defended the acceptability and efficacy of confession long before I entered apologetics, but for some reason I myself refused to submit myself to it. Thanks to CFD, I have learned to live what I defend, to practice what I preach,” he said.

“I’d like to believe I’ve become a better Catholic. And precisely because of this, I am more conscious of what I do [now] that I stand on stronger moral ground. I try my best to make it shine through my actions,” Torralba added. (Raymond A. Sebastián/CBCP News)