Habemus Papam Filipini

Balitang Kutsero
By Perry Diaz

Pope Benedict XVI

Pope Benedict XVI

After three days in conclave, the cardinals were almost certain that the next round of voting would produce a pope to replace Pope Benedict XVI who abruptly resigned.  After all, Cardinal Vittorio Giovanni Antonini, the leading papal candidate was just three votes short of the two-third-majority requirement (one of the last Pope’s legacy was to restore the 2/3 requirement to elect a pope).  The cardinals retired early that day to give everybody a chance to contemplate about the following day’s crucial vote.

That night, Cardinal Antonini, 79 years of age, and not of the best of health meditated in his room.  He knew that he would be elected as pope the following day, most probably by a unanimous vote.  He prayed for divine guidance and went to bed by midnight.

Pope-Benedict-XVI-and-doveThe following morning, the cardinals assembled again in the Sistine Chapel.  By 10:00 AM, everybody was present except Cardinal Antonini.  The head of the conclave, Cardinal Sean Fitzpatrick McEnroe, called the hotel where Cardinal Antonini was billeted and requested the manager to check the cardinal’s room.  Thirty minutes later, the Vatican Chief of Protocol entered the Sistine Chapel and announced that Cardinal Antonini had an apparent heart attack and did not survive it.   The announcement was followed by complete silence.  Sensing that his task was done, the Chief of Protocol bowed and turned around to leave the assemblage.

As he opened the door on his way out, a white dove fluttered into the chapel.  The dove hovered above looking for a place to land.  It crisscrossed the lofty ceiling of the chapel as the awestruck cardinals watched.  Suddenly, something attracted the dove’s attention and it swooped down and landed on the head of Cardinal Jose Maria Baclig.  Cardinal Baclig’s legs buckled and he fell on his knees.  After a few seconds, the dove took off and headed towards the door, which was held ajar by the Chief of Protocol who was in a petrified state.

Habemus Papam Filipini

Habemus Papam Filipini

For several minutes, all the cardinals gazed at Cardinal Baclig who was trying to get up. Embarrassed at the humiliating incident, all he could say was, “mea culpa, mea culpa.”  Suddenly, the cardinals converged around him, murmuring, “habemus papam, habemus papam…”

One hour later, the vote for a new pope was announced: It was a unanimous vote for Cardinal Jose Ma. Baclig, the archbishop of Baguio, Philippines.  “Habemus papam, habemus papam,” the cardinals chorused.  A few minutes later they lit the fireplace with the material that produced a white smoke in the chimney, the signal indicating that a new pope had been elected.  The crowd of more than 500,000 people converged in St. Peter’s Square screamed joyously “Habemus papam, habemus papam!” 

Cardinal Baclig deliberated on which papal name to assume.  He considered many names of great popes before him.  But he reasoned that since he was the first Filipino pope, it was appropriate to use “Philip.” Yes, “Pope Philip I,” the first pope with that name and the first Filipino pope. When he emerged on the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica, his papal name was announced, “Pope Philip I, the 268th pontiff of Rome.” Spontaneously, the crowd cheered, “Habemus Papam Filipini.  Habemus Papam Filipini…” 

Pope Gregory the Great

Pope Gregory the Great

The first night of his papacy, Pope Philip I spent most of the evening alone in his private chapel — meditating, contemplating and praying.  He prayed for divine guidance.  Becoming a pope was not on his wish list.  He was a hands-on archbishop in the Archdiocese of Baguio. He was an unyielding activist for the rights of cultural minorities including his own people, the Igorots. He was a street fighter who championed for the poor and neglected people.

At the stroke of midnight, he saw a silhouette on the wall opposite the lighted window.  He looked at the window where the image of the silhouette came from.  A dove was fluttering outside the window. The dove tapped the glass pane three times and then flew away.  He wondered, “Wasn’t that the same dove that landed on my head at the conclave this morning?”  He went to sleep hoping that what he saw outside the window was the Holy Spirit, the same Holy Spirit that anointed him pope earlier in the day.

The first order of his papacy was to prepare for the forthcoming Third Vatican Ecumenical Council.  The ecumenical council was scheduled to convene several years ago.  He thought of postponing it; however, he was advised to proceed with the original schedule to keep the momentum going.  The Second Vatican Ecumenical Council was held in 1962-1965.  Yes, the Church remained unchanged for some time.

St. Malachy

St. Malachy

There was a clamor for change from a small liberal faction of the Church.  The conservatives have the numerical strength but the liberals were more aggressive and vocal.  Pope Philip I was pretty sure that there were certain issues that could turn Vatican III into a battle for supremacy that would crack the “Rock” of Christendom.  A slew of issues — such as celibacy, ordination of female priests, same-sex marriage, stem cell research, abortion, and population control — could create an atmosphere for schism to grow.

Pope Philip I trembles at the thought of schism.  But what really bothered him to no end was the “Last Pope” prophecy of Saint Malachy.  In 1139, then Archbishop Malachy O’More of Ireland went to Rome to give an account of his diocese to Pope Innocent II.  While in Rome, he received the strange vision of the future wherein was unfolded before his mind the long list of illustrious pontiffs who were to rule the Church until the end of time.  The last on that list was the 268th Pope.

Habemus Papam Filipini — a dream or a vision?

# # #

DISCLAIMER: This is a work of fiction.  Other than the reference to Pope Benedict XVI and the story about St. Malachy’s “Last Pope” prophecy, all the other characters are fictional and any similarities to real characters are coincidental.  This story is satirical and is not intended to disparage or defame anyone.  This author wrote the original story of the same title in his PerryScope column on April 29, 2005.  A few minor changes were made to this version of the story.


19 Responses. Have your say.

  1. jose balmadrid says:

    I got so excited at how the the story initially appeared so creditble with all the details. Even before I reached the DISCLAIMER portion in my excitement I broke the news to an on-going webinar. On the next webinar I have an apology to ask them. It’s late for me to realize it was a ‘Balitang Kutsero, I too realize even the untrue could easily be painted and interpreted to be the truth with carefully chosen words and thoughts’

    To me its kind of a bad joke, a bad news. next time I will be more careful or maybe not get involve at all. I been following your write ups for years. One more less should really not matter at all.

  2. Guy M. Guerrero says:

    You can do another “Angels and Demons”. Or another “Da Vinci” Code.

    What if the voting was in Manila? All the top contenders will die, until the only one left is a Filipino. Quiza is an Albino, he can be useful.

    • perry says:

      Hi Guy,

      Actually, a Filipino cardinal, Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle, has been shortlisted according to a Philippine Star news report: “MANILA, Philippines – Filipinos yesterday expressed hope that Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle would become the next pontiff, as media reports included him in the shortlist of 10 “papabili” or candidates likely to succeed Pope Benedict XVI, who is resigning due to health reasons.”

      Read the full story >> http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2013/02/13/908166/phl-hoping-first-pinoy-pope


  3. jose balmadrid says:

    How credible is the Philippine News Star report. How credible is the media as often asked nowadays? Do we need to check veracity of every report just because some may have the penchant to do franks at their will and moods at some other’s expense?

    • perry says:

      Hi Jose,

      Readers are intelligent and should — nay, must! — do their own due diligence before they for their own opinion. In today’s “Age of Information,” its so easy to spread information or stories in the Internet and social media. Now, it is up to you whether to believe them or not.


  4. nap maminta says:

    Perry, I think you are just trying to make up for your error in judgment in publishing the impending arrest of the Pope from a worthless organization. Many people actually believed what you published. Next time exercise more prudence. I always try to read your publication but not necessarily believe everything you say because you are truly a liberal in the mold of your idol, Obama.

    • perry says:

      Hi Nap,

      I stand by my decision to post the ITCCS press release. As a journalist and as a Roman Catholic, I believe that an attack on the Church should — nay, must! — be brought to the open so the people are aware of this developing story. We don’t live in the Dark Age anymore. People need to know what’s going on in the world they live in. The Inquisition is over long time ago. Information is power and the more people read information, the more they are empowered.

      However, readers should do their own due diligence before they form their own opinion. I haven’t form any opinion on this story yet since it is still developing. I am just exercising my journalistic vocation to inform my readers of events that could affect their lives.

      Nap, you need to broaden your perspective to keep up with a fast-changing world. And yes, don’t believe everything I say or anybody for that matter. Do your own fact-checking before you draw your conclusion.


  5. jose balmadrid says:

    “Readers are intelligent and should be”…so should the more writers be. Somehow what is life without someone to thrust. You were trusted, but I guess that changed.

    The inqusition is over a long time and should ceased to be referred to as some means of a convenient excuse, be it scholars, lying politicians or writers.

    I respect you and your readers. Don’t make them appear like they lack intelligence because you are trying to defend your stand by putting them on the defensive

    I would not dare opine Nap is not abreast with a fast changing world. Otherwise he will never have a chance to read whatever it is you write.

    Like Nap, your readers are honest and credible. Be one…

    • perry says:

      Hi Jose,

      Did you or anyone for that matter gave me your trust? You trusted me with what? Listen, you are not required to read any article on my website. That goes for everybody. It’s free information for those who want to read them. There is no subscription fee and you can unsubscribe anytime.

      BALITA-USA, which is my listserv for Global Balita, displays the following disclaimer:

      “DISCLAIMER: Commentaries or articles may be submitted for publication. However, the commentaries and articles submitted by writers and readers for publication do not necessarily reflect the views of Global Balita and its Editor. The Editor does not knowingly publish false information and may not be held liable for the views of writers and readers exercising their right to free expression. Global Balita and its Editor reserve the right to reject any commentary or article submitted for publication.”

      So, if you are no longer comfortable about the articles you are reading from my website, you can either unsubscribe or I can remove you from the listserv. Just let me know.


  6. Guy M. Guerrero says:


    First let me assure your readers, I was born and raised Catholic, so I know what I’m talking about. My instinct and knee jerk reactions derives from my Catholic upbringing. It is an effort to temper it.

    Filipinos equate and revere priests and bishops as gods. They go berserk at the slightest and perceived irreverence, they are no different from Muslims. This mentality implanted by religion can be dangerous and results in fanatical intolerance. The Spanish Inquisition is a testament to the history of the Catholic Church. Remember Galileo?

  7. Edna says:

    Hi Perry,
    I seldom participate in these forums, i just enjoy reading the varying oipinion. This time, i just want to share my 2cents worth.
    I enjoy reading your articles , your seemingly non partisan opinion of the events affecting our country.
    I appreciate your publication of the ITCCS article, not that I enjoyed its implications on Catholicism, but as an awareness. If there is something to it; this is a heads up. If not, it is just one of those “reads”.
    More and more advocacy groups, powerful at that, are started as a result of strong convictions. whatever motivation or end ITCCS has for this action, it is worth knowing.
    As you said, this is a developing story, i look forward to reading further development.
    And yes, it is up to the reader to discern what is read, check the veracity, form an opinion and take action if necessary. Without articles or published information, there is nothing to read, to verify, form opinion and take action; and may be too late when we learn about something that affect us. In every endeavor, weneed ample preparation response time to be successful.
    Thank you.

    • perry says:

      Hi Edna,

      Thank you for your insightful comment and wisdom. Obviously, you acquired your wisdom through knowledge and open-mindedness. More power to you and keep the faith.


  8. Amelita G. Del Mundo says:

    I thought your Balitang Kutsero would mention the Cardinal Luis Antonio ‘Chito’ Gokim Tagle’s since the Archbishop of Manila has impressed many Vatican watchers and even included in the 10 papabili. He might be just 55 but has been advanced having been a member of the International Theological Commission since he was 40. His examples as a Good Shepherd’s ultimate humility taking a public transport like a bus for his appointments, meekness, and intelligence have been known globally.

    It is about time to have a Pope from the only Christian country in the Far East!

    BTW, I could sense Mr. Jose Balmadrid’s excitement but the new Pope will be announced by Easter Sunday, March 31st.

    • perry says:

      Hi Amelita,

      The Catholic Church is going through a big change… for its own sake. And whoever the next Pope is going to be, he’d be forced to deal with problems that need to be addressed to bring the Church to the realities of the 21st century.

      Let’s pray that the Holy Spirit gives the Cardinals the wisdom to elect a Pope who would have the courage to do it.


  9. Balmero D. Minero says:

    There is a way to interpret the Bible or any writings for that matter – “A text without a context is pre-text” – so we better verify and check first before we run to save us from embarrassment. 🙂

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