The Filipino Catholic Church in Crisis
The Catholic Church is an outspoken opponent of a deadly war on drugs in the Philippines. But in a face-off with President Duterte, the Church is losing ground, forcing its clergy to a crossroads.
This project was produced with writer Adam Willis with support from the Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting.
Here, Christian scripture saturates the landscape; biblical antecedents abound. Prayer beads hang from countless rearview mirrors. Neon crosses cap barangay skylines. In the crowded networks of Manila’s vendor stalls—between sneakers and mangos and glass-bottled colas—passersby can pick up all kinds of Catholic trinkets: glossy plastic pietà statues, Crayola-colored votive candles, floral and beaded rosaries, medallions stamped with the faces of saints. In the capital’s angled alleyways, chapels materialize out of stone and sheet metal, nearly indistinguishable from the neighboring shanties, where homemade shrines glow in the windows. Against this profound expression, Duterte’s rise has exposed a blind spot in Philippine Catholicism: The same country that is adorned in the ornaments of faith also remains broadly supportive of a misogynistic and murderous demagogue.