Sacrilege and harmful threats online




The Manila Times


TWO high-profile online “misbehaviors” trended on and off social media last week. One was considered a desecration of the holiest part of the Catholic faith, and the other was an alleged politically motivated hateful death wish. Both raised serious concerns about the propriety and morality of our youth and professionals. Let me do this in parts. First, an Ateneo senior high school student named @feignedflowers posted an online food review of the holy host from a March 17 Mass. He commented on the design, crispness, taste and wow factor in what he called an “Ostiya Review.” Of the design, he gave it a 6 out of 10 saying, “I like the vibe but if it was centered I think it’d be a lot better.” It wasn’t the low marks that sparked an outrage among Catholics. The holy host, known as the Eucharist, not only represents the body of Christ, it is the body of Christ during Mass. It was the disrespect, irreverence and contempt toward the Eucharist by the student of a premier Catholic school that angered and hurt the most. It was a sacrilege. Immediately following the incident, the Ateneo Senior High School department announced that it would cancel all Masses to atone and make reparations for the sacrilegious act. In the letter, Ateneo explained: “Sacrilege is a grave sin committed against sacred persons or things, particularly those consecrated to God. In the Catholic Church, it is an offense against the holiness of God and His Church. The Eucharist, the source and summit of our Catholic faith, is the most sacred and central act of worship for us.” It went on to explain the idea of reparation and atonement. Reparation is to make amends for the offense by offering prayers, penance and acts of charity. Atonement is the seeking of forgiveness for the offense committed. In short, the entire Ateneo community and other congregations have had to pay and suffer for the student’s act of sacrilege. It is not known whether the student had to deal with disciplinary action from the educational institution. Senior high school, the final two years before university or college, is a very important period in a student’s life. It was a big, careless risk taken by this student when he pulled off this act. The second misbehavior was from a Twitter user @NovaVFaith, a registered nurse based in Baguio City. At the height of the rumors about the 93-year-old former first lady Imelda Marcos’ declining health, the Baguio nurse posted a tweet urging Mrs. Marcos’ nurse to turn off her oxygen and other harmful acts. When the identity of the Twitter user was traced, she received much criticism online. Her colleagues from the Baguio General Hospital defended her saying her account had been hacked. There may be some people with no love lost for the former first lady. However, regardless of one’s political choices, is it proper for a professional nurse to post online three ways of how to kill a patient? Whether she was or wasn’t hacked, this very disturbing post was published. Social media platforms have community standards that do not allow these grave threats. They self-police triggering posts that can encourage self-harm, violence, racism and hate crimes. These stories simmered down after a couple of days, as is the case with many social media sensational trends. The student apologized saying, “It wasn’t my intention.” He has his school and guardians or parents to deal with. The nurse reportedly said that her account had been hacked. Whether a true atonement, remorse, reform or conversion will take place remains to be seen. I’d be satisfied with a return to some form of propriety, or professionalism, if that’s not too much to ask.