Catholicism’s Democratic Dilemma: Varieties of Public Religion in the Philippines

David T. Buckley



As representatives of public religion in a postauthoritarian setting, Catholic elites face a democratic dilemma: they exert social influence, but cannot control directly the outcomes of democratic politics. Catholic responses in the recent debate on reproductive health reveal diversity, even at the highest levels of the Philippine Catholic hierarchy. This article catalogues three distinct varieties of public Catholicism that respond to the democratic dilemma and identifies their impacts on the internal life of the church and on alliances between the church and other social actors. These dynamics are illustrated with an analysis of the reproductive health debate and its fallout in the 2013 elections.

KEYWORDS: Catholic Church • Democracy • Reproductive Health Act • Public Religion

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