On February 18, Julieta de Lima, long-time leading member of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and head of the party’s peace negotiating team, delivered a speech to a summit of major church leaders in which she articulated the CPP’s open embrace of the Catholic Church and its legacy of medieval barbarism in the country.

Communist Party of the Philippines leader Jose Maria Sison (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini, File)

She addressed a gathering of archbishops, bishops, religious superiors and prominent ministers assembled for the 9th Ecumenical Church Leaders’ Summit on Peace to commemorate “500 Years of Christianity in the Philippines.” The event was sponsored by the Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform (PEPP) which is comprised of the powerful Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), the National Council of Churches and the Association of Major Religious Superiors of the Philippines.

De Lima unreservedly adopted the language and dogma of Christianity. She approvingly quoted Pope Francis, telling the assembled bishops, “The Lord has redeemed us all, all of us, with the blood of Christ, all of us, not just Catholics.”

She depicted the CPP as struggling for a “just and enduring peace,” and then dressed this up in the religious fatalism of medieval canon, Thomas a Kempis, declaring “To me this means Man proposes and God disposes with the masses not only voicing the will of God but realizing it on earth.”

The Catholic Church, with its dogma of redemptive suffering and its apparatus of obscurantism, is one of the most exploitative institutions on the planet. The wealth of the church and the power of the pope are the product of nearly two millennia of theft, murder, conquest and counter-revolution.

Few countries have suffered as greatly as a result of this history as the Philippines. The Communist Party of the Philippines, however, joined the assembled religious superiors in a celebration of this legacy. De Lima declared, “As we celebrate 500 years of Christianity in the country, let us strive ever harder to uphold human dignity.” She claimed that the “Filipino people have adopted it [Christianity] as a redemptive and liberating moral force in the same manner as one type of society after another has adopted science and technology as a progressive factor in advancing civilization.”

Ferdinand Magellan arrived in what would become the Spanish colony of the Philippines in 1521. The CPP is joining the Catholic Church in celebrating the onset of colonial rule. Spanish colonial rule in the Philippines was exercised directly through the institutions of the church and the religious orders. Five hundred years of Christianity have been five hundred years of barbarism.

The church systematically destroyed the existing native script, burning every instance they could find as “satanic.” Within two generations they had eradicated it and reduced the literate population to illiteracy. The priests deliberately maintained the population in a condition of ignorance to propagate their brand of salvation and inculcate submission in the colonized.

The church relocated large sections of the population, forcing them to reside near the new church buildings, which were built with forced native labor. They also renamed the population, compelling them to adopt “Christian” surnames. They instructed them to fear hellfire in the afterlife and the whip of the priest in this one. They compelled the male population to carry out years of forced labor.

The religious orders—Dominicans, Franciscans, Jesuits—confiscated land and consolidated it into vast plantations, becoming the largest landowners in the country, forcing their parishioners to pay rent for the use of the land that was stolen from them.

During periods of social upheaval, the church directed the explosive class tensions in the colony against the Chinese population, scapegoating them as “heathens.” The church directly instigated repeated pogroms in which tens of thousands of long-time Chinese residents were murdered. The Catholic Church oversaw the suppression and exclusion of the Muslim population.

For all of its rhetoric of the blood of Christ, it is with the blood of the colonized that the church is covered.