November 18th, 2013
08:18 AM ET

Religion as solace in the Philippines

Tacloban City, The Philippines (CNN) - The day after the typhoon, the Rev. Edwin Bacaltos stepped out of the compound of the Church of Our Mother of Perpetual Help in central Tacloban and began his work.

The scene was one of unspeakable horror. Dead bodies were strewn all over the place. The debris of shattered buildings and their contents filled the street.

Bacaltos' self-appointed task that day was to bless the bodies that lay scattered around his parish.

"It was difficult for me," he said. "It was a really emotional experience."

The next day, he said, "When I celebrated the Eucharist, I broke down because of all the suffering I had seen."

Hundreds of survivors were taking refuge in the church compound, much of which withstood Super Typhoon Haiyan's ferocious winds and destructive storm surge.

Many of them asked the pastor how God could let such a calamity befall this predominantly Catholic city.

His response, he said, was to tell them that "God is not the cause of the suffering. God cannot prevent this. This is the work of nature."

But why it had to happen to Tacloban and its more than 200,000 residents, Father Bacaltos acknowledged, is "difficult to explain."

As the people who remain in this broken city attempt to come to terms with the catastrophe that engulfed them a week ago, religion is offering a degree of solace for some of those who have suffered incalculable losses.

It's also providing basic elements of community and support to residents of an area where local government ceased to fully function for several days and is still only slowly sputtering back into action.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Catholic Church • Christianity • Death • Faith • Foreign policy • Philippines

soundoff (1,313 Responses)
  1. typically

    All u have to do, to become a legitimate blog, is get rid of Sam stone. Y waste time and play games? We r posting elsewhere now where atheists r not disgusting perverts.

    November 23, 2013 at 11:11 am |
    • You're reaching, as usual, troll.

      You're pretty disgusting yourself. You must be a Christian.

      November 23, 2013 at 9:30 pm |
      • Dyslexic doG

        Bless u my child

        November 24, 2013 at 10:44 am |
        • Puck

          Why are you incapable of 1) using your own name, and 2) typing out the word "you"?

          You look really ignorant. That is what you're trying to portray, yes?

          November 24, 2013 at 3:11 pm |
    • sam stone

      suck a 12 gauge, faith

      November 24, 2013 at 1:04 pm |
      • sam stone

        Honey, I will, the moment u make me. Lol.
        I'm shakin.

        November 25, 2013 at 8:20 pm |
        • sam stone

          Can u imagine that fat hippo getting off her enormous rear to do anything besides eat? Lol

          November 25, 2013 at 8:23 pm |
        • sam stone

          noes, I can't imagine faith getting off her ass for nuthin'

          November 25, 2013 at 8:27 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      My children, why r u afraid? I a m here. No one can harm u now. It is safe.

      November 24, 2013 at 11:20 pm |
      • Paul

        You're not AB.
        You're just that ignorant Christian name stealing troll.

        November 25, 2013 at 11:23 am |
        • Sean Lynch

          Prove it!


          November 25, 2013 at 12:51 pm |
  2. Cardiff

    To the people of Philippines:

    November 23, 2013 at 9:25 am |
  3. typically

    No evidence he doesn't exist.

    November 23, 2013 at 8:01 am |
    • igaftr

      No evidence we aren't in the matrix either...are you going to start looking for doors out?

      November 24, 2013 at 1:07 pm |
      • Sean Lynch

        Did u claim there was no evidence? Hush, child. Let the adults fall to the One.

        November 25, 2013 at 12:54 pm |
    • Puck

      No evidence he does.

      Wait, who are you talking about?

      November 24, 2013 at 3:13 pm |
      • Sean Lynch

        Prove it, my love. Hurry. I wait for u with great anticipation

        November 25, 2013 at 12:55 pm |
    • brainwashed christians

      Who is "he" Thor?

      November 25, 2013 at 11:12 am |
    • stereotypically

      there is no evidence that invisible pink unicorns don't exist either.

      November 25, 2013 at 11:27 am |
      • One one

        Prove it

        November 25, 2013 at 12:57 pm |
      • igaftr

        There IS evidence that invisible pink unicorns don't exist.

        If the unicorn was pink, it reflects light in that visible spectrum.
        If it is invisible, it reflects light in NO visible spectrum, therefore a both pink AND invisible unicorn is an impossibiliy.

        November 25, 2013 at 1:01 pm |
        • One one


          November 25, 2013 at 1:03 pm |
        • One one

          Yet, there is proof, my love, that leaning against a brick wall, u will fall through it

          November 25, 2013 at 1:06 pm |
  4. Opposing View

    Numbers 16:33 So they and all that belonged to them went down alive into Sheol, and the earth closed over them, and they perished from the midst of the assembly.

    Job 17:16 Will it go down to the bars of Sheol? Shall we descend together into the dust?”

    Genesis 37:34-35 Then Jacob tore his garments and put sackcloth on his loins and mourned for his son many days. All his sons and all his daughters rose up to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted and said, “No, I shall go down to Sheol to my son, mourning.” Thus his father wept for him.

    1 Samuel 2:6 The Lord kills and brings to life; he brings down to Sheol and raises up.

    2 Samuel 22:5-6 “For the waves of death encompassed me, the torrents of destruction assailed me;6 the cords of Sheol entangled me; the snares of death confronted me.

    Proverbs 23:13-14 Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you strike him with a rod, he will not die.14 If you strike him with the rod, you will save his soul from Sheol.

    2 Chronicles 28:1-3 Ahaz was twenty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem. And he did not do what was right in the eyes of the Lord, as his father David had done, but he walked in the ways of the kings of Israel. He even made metal images for the Baals, and he made offerings in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom and burned his sons as an offering, according to the abominations of the nations whom the Lord drove out before the people of Israel.

    Jeremiah 7:31 And they have built the high places of Topheth, which is in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire, which I did not command, nor did it come into my mind.

    2 Peter 2:4 For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment;

    November 23, 2013 at 7:16 am |
    • Science Works

      OV a must read.

      The state of Texas is the talking snake no ?

      Bill Nye: Debate Over Evolution In Texas Schools Is Jeopardizing Our Future

      Posted: 11/23/2013 5:01 pm EST | Updated: 11/23/2013 7:28 pm EST

      November 25, 2013 at 6:37 am |
  5. Dyslexic doG

    when did I realize that I was God?

    well, I was praying and I suddenly realized that I was talking to myself ...

    November 21, 2013 at 12:16 am |
    • mzh

      "well, I was praying and I suddenly realized that I was talking to myself ..."

      This is one of the teaching of Christianity that talking to holy spirit who is part of the three... so when you talk with yourself, it goes that you are talking to holy spirit and then it finally goes that you are talking to God Almighty...

      Which actually has been added during the time of Constantinople who modified by adding this trinity concept in 320s AD and this is known to all Christian scholars... so is it okay to say that the Bible is also word of Constantinople?


      November 23, 2013 at 10:43 am |
  6. bootyfunk

    How does he put that love in my heart?

    November 20, 2013 at 6:02 pm |
    • Sara


      November 21, 2013 at 7:15 am |
      • typically

        1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 x Google better

        November 23, 2013 at 4:55 pm |
    • One one

      And some say miracles don't happen these days. Now there is proof he lives.

      November 25, 2013 at 12:59 pm |
  7. Dyslexic doG

    "Religion as solace in the Philippines"

    "solace" is a soft blankie or a stuffed toy for a scared child. And if you really look at religion, that's all it is. There is no proof of a god or jesus or that any of the stories in the bible even happened, but the stories sure seem to make people feel better.

    so take your solace and feel comforted by your fairy stories, but please, please, please stop trying to tell me that any of it is real.

    November 20, 2013 at 2:14 pm |
    • Exactly

      And in a time of distress or sadness, you offer no solace. Only thing you have to offer is fear, distrust, hatred, contempt, and intolerance.

      November 20, 2013 at 2:48 pm |
      • doobzz

        And you know this how? Did you peep in his windows to make sure he's not helping anyone?

        November 21, 2013 at 12:55 pm |
      • brainwashed christians

        Yet you offer delusions?

        November 25, 2013 at 11:14 am |
        • One one

          Prove they offer delusions, please. We await your repeatable, verifiable, scientifically gathered evidence with bated breath.

          For the billionth time, sinners, prove it or u will harm your reputations

          November 25, 2013 at 1:01 pm |
  8. Doris

    I'll have to start asking if utility people their view on Creationism before hiring them or letting them in. If someone thinks the Flintstones is a docu-mentary, I don't want them working on my pipes, wires, etc.

    November 20, 2013 at 9:54 am |
    • Colin

      You'll know if you see them trying to accept an apple from your garden hose.......

      November 20, 2013 at 9:58 am |
      • Akira


        November 20, 2013 at 11:50 am |
    • Appy-polly-loggies.

      I don't mind them as long as they aren't geologists, biologists or astro-physicists.

      November 20, 2013 at 10:00 am |
  9. Science Works

    Just so you know AE what are facts and not a myth.

    Ohio Supreme Court upholds the firing of a creationist science teacher !

    Ohio’s Supreme Court upheld the firing of an eighth-grade science instructor who taught creationism instead of evolution to his students.


    November 20, 2013 at 6:09 am |
  10. saint fantastic

    Mustaine hit it big not once, but twice in the heavy metal world, serving first as an early member of Metallica and later as the co-founder of the band Megadeth. His musical skills are profound — one influential book named him the Greatest Metal Guitarist of all Time. But there was a dark side to the fame. He battled an alcohol addiction (which got him booted from Metallica). He dabbled in witchcraft. By the early 2000s, Mustaine was sick of touring, tired of his fellow bandmates, and generally down on his life. As Mustaine later told an interviewer, “Looking up at the cross, I said six simple words, ‘What have I got to lose?’ Afterwards, my whole life has changed. It’s been hard, but I wouldn’t change it for anything. Rather than go my whole life believing that there is a God and find out there isn't, than live my whole life thinking there isn't a God and then find out, when I die, that there is.

    November 20, 2013 at 2:13 am |
    • tallulah13

      Mustaine was kicked out of Metallica and Megadeth was simply a pale imitation. I honestly don't care what he thinks.

      November 20, 2013 at 9:18 am |
    • Alias

      Too bad he chose the wrong religion.
      Although, any religion could take in someone in his condition and convince them they were called to that place.

      November 20, 2013 at 11:55 am |
    • doobzz

      Pascal's Wager stated by an aging rock and roller is still Pascal's Wager.

      November 21, 2013 at 1:13 pm |
  11. Sam yaza

    "God is not the cause of the suffering. God cannot prevent this. This is the work of nature."

    hahahaha all powerful my ass

    Gaia may have just killed 10,000+ humans and Yahweh could do nothing to stop it,...hahahahahh whose your god now.

    keep up the good work Gaia, we need to reduce them by 80%

    November 19, 2013 at 11:35 pm |
  12. Dyslexic doG

    When did I realize I was God?

    Well, I was praying and I suddenly realized that I was talking to myself ...

    November 19, 2013 at 11:18 pm |
  13. CommonSensed

    Ask the Sunnis who blew up the Shiites in Lebanon about whether prayer changes things.

    November 19, 2013 at 4:38 pm |
    • bostontola

      Protestants and Catholics clashed in Belfast in August, dozens were hurt.

      November 19, 2013 at 4:50 pm |
      • CommonSensed

        And the beat of my god is better than your god goes on...

        November 19, 2013 at 4:51 pm |
        • bostontola

          Ironic that in both of these cases, the combatants believe in the same god. There is only a difference in detailed rules and interpretations. Pretty nuts.

          November 19, 2013 at 5:00 pm |
  14. AverageJoe76

    Seems like God did this according to the BIG THREE:

    Judaism: "This is my Word, and that's all I have to say. PERIOD!"
    Christianity: ".........Oh! And one more thing....."
    Islam: ".......Oh yeah! And one more OTHER thing..."

    November 19, 2013 at 4:21 pm |
    • bostontola

      And each of the scores of sects of these religions have their own "one more things".

      November 19, 2013 at 4:29 pm |
  15. Science Works

    The RCC sure is not a place to seek what ever .(solace)

    Saint Luke Insti-tute, Father Francis Hoefgen Named in Se-xual Abuse Lawsuit

    Filed yesterday>

    November 19, 2013 at 4:11 pm |
  16. bostontola

    Does or did Pegasus exist?

    There is probably few on this comment board that would answer yes. Why? Because there is no objective evidence. The notion of a flying horse would violate scientific understanding in biology and physics.

    Does or did the Abrahamic God exist?
    Most would say yes, even though there is the same amount of objective evidence (none) as Pegasus, and it's scripture violates much of scientific understanding (tested and retested, proven in the myriad technologies we trust our lives to every day).

    November 19, 2013 at 3:42 pm |
    • Reality # 2

      Added information for the newbies:

      origin: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F20E1EFE35540C7A8CDDAA0894DA404482 NY Times review and important enough to reiterate.

      New Torah For Modern Minds

      “Abraham, the Jewish patriarch, probably never existed. Nor did Moses. (prob•a•bly
      Adverb: Almost certainly; as far as one knows or can tell).

      The entire Exodus story as recounted in the Bible probably never occurred. The same is true of the tumbling of the walls of Jericho. And David, far from being the fearless king who built Jerusalem into a mighty capital, was more likely a provincial leader whose reputation was later magnified to provide a rallying point for a fledgling nation.

      Such startling propositions - the product of findings by archaeologists digging in Israel and its environs over the last 25 years - have gained wide acceptance among non-Orthodox rabbis. But there has been no attempt to disseminate these ideas or to discuss them with the laity - until now.

      The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, which represents the 1.5 million Conservative Jews in the United States, has just issued a new Torah and commentary, the first for Conservatives in more than 60 years. Called "Etz Hayim" ("Tree of Life" in Hebrew), it offers an interpretation that incorporates the latest findings from archaeology, philology, anthropology and the study of ancient cultures. To the editors who worked on the book, it represents one of the boldest efforts ever to introduce into the religious mainstream a view of the Bible as a human rather than divine doc-ument.

      The notion that the Bible is not literally true "is more or less settled and understood among most Conservative rabbis," observed David Wolpe, a rabbi at Sinai Temple in Los Angeles and a contributor to "Etz Hayim." But some congregants, he said, "may not like the stark airing of it." Last Passover, in a sermon to 2,200 congregants at his synagogue, Rabbi Wolpe frankly said that "virtually every modern archaeologist" agrees "that the way the Bible describes the Exodus is not the way that it happened, if it happened at all." The rabbi offered what he called a "LITANY OF DISILLUSION”' about the narrative, including contradictions, improbabilities, chronological lapses and the absence of corroborating evidence. In fact, he said, archaeologists digging in the Sinai have "found no trace of the tribes of Israel - not one shard of pottery."

      November 19, 2013 at 3:44 pm |
      • rab3

        So your whole argument is based on a "probably" statement. Well people who need to prove a negative to prove what they believe will grasp at anything.

        November 21, 2013 at 7:04 am |
    • rab3

      Please provide us with the technical philosophical arguments for Pegasus. I can for the existnace of God.

      November 21, 2013 at 7:03 am |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.