Thursday, March 27, 2003're ticked off at Cardinal Martino, et al?

Good thing you don't live in the Philippines.

Then you'd be really mad:

The largest demonstrations here against the US-led war with Iraq have been marked by prayer more than protest. While the usual leftist crowds are certainly in attendance, toting familiar placards denouncing the war as "imperialist", their ranks are outnumbered by more unusual attendees: housewives.

Middle-class Filipinos have come out in force to protest the war, largely at the encouragement of Catholic Church leaders. Manila Archbishop Jaime Cardinal Sin has deemed the war illegal under the United Nations Charter and, worse, immoral under the rubric of Christian principles. Sin's call for peace has been echoed in the homilies of many a parish priest. Small wonder, then, that in this majority-Catholic nation the largest anti-war demonstrations have been, in fact, prayer rallies.

The largest such rally in the Philippines to date billed itself as "The Nationwide Prayer Assembly for Peace". Held late last month at Luneta Park in Manila, the gathering boasted an attendance of 50,000 people (though police put the figure at 15,000). While various leftist factions turned out in large numbers, this was unmistakably a religious event.

Church groups made it an outing, Catholic schools made it a field trip, and housewives heeded the call of their parish priest. Sister Theresa Lorenzo accompanied students from Mary Help Christian School in Canlunbang, Laguna: "We came as a way of witnessing and proclaiming what we have in our hearts, and what these young people would like to tell our president."

Across the country, peace advocates continue to congregate in the hundreds and thousands. Like the Luneta Park rally but on a smaller scale, these pious demonstrations seem, foremost, an affirmative expression of religious faith. Only as a consequence of this do they represent a conscientious objection to the war in Iraq.