Conrado de Quiros got it all WRONG on the Mother of God

By Marwil Llasos as posted on his blog.

Our Lady of EDSA. Mary the Queen of Peace

Inquirer columnist Conrado de Quiros opens his column with a sound bite from Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma, “If we fight against the RH bill, we will make Mama Mary happy.” Then he pounced upon the Cebu Archbishop and incoming CBCP President, “Palma may not know it, but he has just produced one of the richest ironies of late.” To de Quiros’ mind, yes. But not to faithful Catholics who comprise the majority in this country.

De Quiros proceeded to answer his own question: “Who was Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ?” He noted how Mary is depicted today as “white Anglo-Saxon.” This betrays the columnist’s limited worldview on Marian iconography. De Quiros must have forgotten that closer to home, Nuestra Señora de la Paz y Buenviaje in Antipolo is a brown virgin and far from the “white Anglo Saxon” depiction that De Quiros claims Mary is depicted today. De Quiros is oblivious of the Morenita of Guadalupe who is depicted, well, with Indian and not white Anglo-Saxon features. I can go on to list depictions of the Blessed Virgin Mary that are not white Anglo-Saxon but with rather ethnic or native features (La Vang, Akita, Kibeho, etc.).

Image of Mama Mary

Does this look like Anglo-Saxon to you, huh de Quiros?

The Inquirer columnist observes that “[o]ccasionally, you see a more Pinoy version of the Madonna and Child in paintings, that of a brown-skinned and gusgusin mother and child (ah, but artists have always been the boy who can see through the emperor’s new clothes). And occasionally you see belens that have the same brown-skinned, if not gusgusin, version of the Madonna and Child. But so only occasionally.” But brown-skinned Madonnas are not alien to Filipino piety. They been with us since the Spanish times. Guadalupe is brown and so is the Antipolo. In Bicol, the Peñafrancia and the Salvacion are brown virgins. Yes, we have black Madonnas, too. Piat in Cagayan, Guadalupe in Loboc. Not to forget the oldest Marian image in the Philippines, De Guia.

De Quiros notes that what we generally see in churches is a Mary clad in white, grasping a rosary with hands that have never seen a day’s work. But what about the other depictions of Mary I pointed? De Quiros must have only seen the images of Our Lady of Fatima or Our Lady of Lourdes. But these are depictions of Mary in her eschatological lot. What De Quiros does not realize is that Marian iconography is not about portraits or actual pictures of how Mary looked like in Palestine 2000 years ago. Iconography is intended primarily to convey theological truth.

Then De Quiros pontificates that Mary represents the Filipino woman in far more ways than the Catholic Church has been able to fathom. The implication is that only De Quiros is able to fathom that truth.

Mama Mary of the Rosary

Conrado De Quiros is correct that the term “Mama Mary” signifies a mother. He is correct. Mary is first and foremost a mother. It is in being a mother that the glory of Mary lies. Motherhood is a precious gift of God that contraception thwarts. Then De Quiros, with an air of infallibility, declares that “’Mama Mary’ already invests Mary with a rich or middle-class provenance. The wife of a karpintero is not called “Mama” by her brood, she is called “Inay.” I wonder what is the source of De Quiros’ ex cathedra declaration that the wife of karpinteros is not called “Mama” but “Inay” by her children. I have neighbors who are carpenters and their children call their mothers “Mama.” De Quiros is clearly generalizing.

So what if we call Mary “Mama Mary”? “Mama” is a more universal term of endearment used for mothers and by calling Mary such title underscores her universal motherhood. Mary is not just the mother of the poor but also of the middle class and the rich. She is the mother of us all. By insinuating that since “Mama Mary” is of rich or middle class provenance, hence, not appropriate for the poor, De Quiros is seems to involve Mary in a class struggle. That smacks of Marxism to me.

The Catholic Church refers to Mary as the Virgin Mary and we do take is as a matter of faith. And we take it, as what God’s Word teaches us, that the Holy Spirit had a hand in Mary’s pregnancy (Lk. 1:35). We don’t force this belief on De Quiros – he is free to reject it. It is obvious that De Quiros does not believe the clear teaching of Scripture. Fine. But he should not disparage those who do.

Virgin Mary of Peking

In stating that “it is inconceivable that Joseph and Mary did not have normal physical relations before and after the birth of Christ,” Conrado de Quiros has just taken the ranks of heretics like Helvidius. Here, De Quiros clearly embraces Helvidian heresy, the denial of the perpetual virginity of Mary. The Inquirer columnist justifies his heretical belief by stating that “[a]s far as I know, the instructions of the angel who came to visit Mary did not include a ban on sex, or stipulated that she marry Joseph to keep up a front. The marriage was for real.” What is his basis? His private interpretation of Scripture. Let’s chop to bits and pieces De Quiros’ “exegesis.”

De Quiros says that the “instructions of the angel who came to visit Mary did not include a ban on sex.” And who says it does? The Gospel account is about God’s invitation to Mary to be the mother of the Messiah. The angel tells her how her motherhood would come about, without the agency of a man. The angel was not imposing a ban on sex to Mary. There was no need to as it is clear in the passage that Mary was a virgin and determined to remain so as expressed in her question, “How can this be since I do not know man?”

Conrado de Quiros goes on to state that the angel’s instruction did not stipulate “that she marry Joseph to keep up a front. The marriage was for real.” The Catholic Church does not teach, in fact it condemns, the heretical notion that the marriage of Mary and Joseph was not real. Obviously, De Quiros’ grasp on Catholic teaching and theology is nil.

Our Lady of Guadalupe

Our Lady of Guadalupe

De Quiros is correct that Mary was the mother of a single child. Yet, his reason why it is so is absurd. He avers that “[t]he faithful will say that was because God caused Mary—or Joseph—to be barren afterward.” Who are these faithful who say that? The truth of the matter is no Catholic faithful will ever say such thing for the simple reason that the Catholic Church never teaches that God caused Mary or Joseph to be barren! Just what is De Quiros’ source for Catholic teaching?

Another thing. God did not order Mary to be chaste. She already was. And how could Joseph’s fate be worse than Job or anybody else since he was privileged to be the foster-father of the Son of God? De Quiros’ assumption of course is that sex is all that it takes in this life. Joseph, as true husband to Mary, has rights over Mary but that does not mean that he exercised it.
De Quiros comments that “[t]he faithless, or downright sacrilegious, will say that was because they practiced family planning.” I wonder who are these faithless or downrightly sacrilegious people De Quiros is referring to.

Lady Salambao

Conrado de Quiros categorizes Mary as dirt-poor. Poor, yes. Dirt-poor, no. How else could Mary ever have the luxury of a donkey in going to Bethlehem from Nazareth and from Bethlehem to Egypt and back to Nazareth? A dirt-poor woman could not afford a donkey. And Joseph, too, was not dirt-poor as he was a “tekton,” an artisan – some sort of a skilled worker with a steady income. Clearly, De Quiros’ command of Biblical studies is simply bereft.

Then here’s the rub. De Quiros stated that “[o]nly in the end for Mary to see the same son arrested by the authorities for being a troublemaker. Only in the end for Mary to see their friends, their neighbors, and their entire community rise against him. Only in the end for Mary to see him nailed to the cross like a common criminal. Maybe Mary had the profoundest of faith and was convinced her son, though of her loins was not of this world, but she was a mother, too. And what mother would not have wept at the sight of her son’s agony? And what mother would not have wished things had been different and her son had met with another fate?” Oh, so De Quiros would rather that Mary should not have consented to have a son in the first place. If Mary had the same thinking as De Quiros, the Savior would have not been born.

And then De Quiros asks, “Why should a proposal for the poor to breed children beyond their ability to raise them make Mary happy?” His question assumes that the Church teaches and encourages the poor to breed children beyond their ability to raise them. That is a false assumption. The Church also teaches responsible parenthood but insists on natural family planning to achieve it. De Quiros did not point out the fact that the Church differs only in the means and not on the end of responsible parenthood.

Our Lady of Candelaria

Our Lady of Candelaria

De Quiros argues that a decent life is impossible in a huge family which, in the urban slums in particular, dooms many of the girls to a life of prostitution and the boys to a life of crime. Prostitution and criminality are not attributable to big families alone. The government, too, has a big role to play in this regard.

It would also seem that to De Quiros that the poor do not have the right to have children. Thus, if we are to follow De Quiros’ logic, the poor should be sterilized so that they can no longer procreate. This is most welcome in a Nazi regime.

De Quiros further posits that “[c]ontraception is not abortion, where you can argue for an “unborn child.” He forgets that abortion is a back-up to contraception and most contraceptives, like morning after pills and IUD are abortifacients. Conception occurs at fertilization and these contraceptives (pills, IUD) prevents implantation of a fertilized ovum thus killing it.

Then De Quiros says “[u]nless you want to propose that couples never express their love for each other intimately unless they are willing to risk having another mouth to feed, even if they are not prepared to feed it.” I wonder who is suggesting that to De Quiros. Definitely not the Catholic Church. Couples are free to intimately express their love for each other, by all means. Yet, if they partake of the pleasure, they too must accept the consequences. If they can’t risk another mouth to feed, then they should abstain from intimacies or otherwise avail of natural family planning.

Mama Mary

As expected, Conrado de Quiros ends his column by scoring the bishops and taking them to task for their position against the RH Bill. In essence, he wants the bishop to stop their opposition against the RH Bill because one of them asked for an SUV on his birthday. That’s clearly a non sequitor and an ad hominem attack. In melodramatic fashion, De Quiros decries how one bishop who asked for an SUV during his birthday led to the “grabbing the food that should go to the mouths of hungry street kids, seizing the medicine that should go to the bodies of infants afflicted with dengue, putting on hold the classroom that should go to enlighten the benighted.” After shedding crocodile tears for the plight of the poor as if he is the only one concerned about them, De Quiros generalized, “[i]f the bishops would just show a little more concern for the living…” Of course the bishops are concerned for the living. They run charities and social action programs that Conrado de Quiros vaguely know about. What about De Quiros? What has he done so far to help the poor?

Lady of Akita

Lady of Akita

We may also ask him back if condoms can be eaten by the hungry street kids, or pills could go to the bodies of infants afflicted with dengue, or sex education will improve the quality of education in the classrooms that should enlighten the benighted. Madre de Dios!

La Immaculada

Viva Cristo Rey! Viva la Madre de Dios!

About the Author: MARWIL N. LLASOS, O.P. is a commissioned lay preacher, Catholic apologist and Mariologist. He is a member of the COMPANY OF ST. DOMINIC, a Dominican secular institute of consecrated life in the Archdiocese of Manila where he serves as Council Member and Formator. As Formator of the Company of St. Dominic, Bro. Mars is a member of the DOMINICAN FORMATORS CONFERENCE OF THE PHILIPPINES (DFCP). A Marian devotee and knight of Mary, he is an active member various Marian groups and organizations in the Philippines and abroad. A sought-after speaker and preacher, Bro. Mars extensively lectures on Mariology, Marian Apologetics and Marian Spirituality in different parishes, Marian groups and organizations in the country. As Catholic apologist, Bro. Mars is an Associate Member and Resource Person of DEFENSORES FIDEI FOUNDATION.

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Posted in The Catholic Perspective
15 comments on “Conrado de Quiros got it all WRONG on the Mother of God
  1. ebmanalange says:

    De Quiros is a secular columnist may have some special advocacies to rub him a little clean but thats only skin deep.

  2. mimimayhem says:

    Awesome! And happy birthday to her. I stopped reading Conrado de Quiros’ column since months ago. He does say a lot of uncritical things lately.

  3. victorius oxymoron says:

    This is just an example of ignorance covered by layers of flowery speech. Mr. Conrado de Quiros’ statements are eloquent to the point of atheistic lobbying. Most definitely political and albeit diabolical in nature. Happy Birthday Mother Mary!

  4. Clyde says:

    Anathema sit!,,, what a heresy…

  5. Stephanny says:

    Congratulations to all who continue to adhere to teachings of God and the Church…May God forgive those who influence others to believe in things that may appear to be convenient and practical but has no real good purpose to uplify human dignity…

  6. Great systematic demolition of de Quiros! The gall of him to write such an article for September 8! What happened to that guy? I used to really enjoy his articles back in GMA’s era. I guess he’s lost his purpose now that she’s off the presidency. Of late, de Quiros has turned into a loose canon force fitting all these arguments against the Church, pretending to know its doctrine.

  7. Then says:

    I always feel depressed when I get to read one of his articles. It is usually full of hate and one sided.

  8. Jewel says:

    “We may also ask him back if condoms can be eaten by the hungry street kids, or pills could go to the bodies of infants afflicted with dengue, or sex education will improve the quality of education in the classrooms that should enlighten the benighted.”

    If these street kids are eventually taught to WEAR condoms when they get to the age of being sexually active, then they won’t have to have as many (street) kids of their own that they’d struggle to feed. If their parents wore condoms to begin with, then they wouldn’t have to be struggling to feed their growing number of children in the first place.
    Dengue has nothing to do with poverty or overpopulation, so that’s not even a valid argument.
    Moving on, sex ed will be education in itself. These kids, later on in life, need be smart enough to not impregnate or get pregnant before they are ready to even raise a child.

    You completely missed the point of Conrado de Quiros’ article, choosing instead to nitpick on the details about a woman who died years ago and has nothing to do with the current situation regarding the RH bill except that some bishop used her as leeway to push his stance on the RH bill. A stance that shouldn’t even matter as no one in the CBCP have kids of their own and know what it’s like to have to raise one themselves.

    • Vince says:

      If by “the age of being sexually active” you mean their teenage unmarried years, teaching them to wear condoms will only condone, if not encourage immorality. So thanks, but no thanks, to your “education.” Kids should NOT be taught that it’s ok to engage in pre-marital sex as long as you use condoms. By the way, you seemed to miss that portion saying that the Church also teaches responsible parenthood but discriminates between the moral and immoral means of doing so.

      Sex education need not be given too much attention/emphasis that several years of education should be devoted to it. Chances are, such undue attention and length of time would only be an avenue for perversity. The instructors may also teach a different brand of sexual morality that may only confuse the children at such a young age. It’s enough to incorporate the essential scientific aspects of sexuality in the other subjects and allow the parents to teach the values concerning sex.

      The pro-RH people say contraceptives will LIFT people from poverty, but they won’t. They don’t add anything at all to the people’s basic needs nor to their livelihood. People who practice responsible parenthood (whether using natural family planning or the artificial means) achieve economic progress through their work, not through family planning per se. Family planning is only assumed to prevent a family from getting poorer, should it be overwhelmed by the growing needs of its members. Remember that the RH bill targets the people who (the proponents say) cannot afford contraceptives – meaning, the poor people who don’t have relatively adequate means for economic progress. So let me ask, will these people escape poverty if they are showered with contraceptives? If the government is sincere in helping the poor, it should prioritize the budget for programs that would help promote job opportunities (ex. education, infrastructures to the rural areas etc.) rather than spend billions on contraceptives. After all, family planning can be achieved effectively (and way less costly!) through modern natural family planning methods.

      Yes, condoms CANNOT be eaten by the hungry street kids, pills COULD NOT go to the bodies of infants afflicted with dengue, and sex education WILL NOT improve the quality of education in the classrooms that should enlighten the benighted – or would have given them better job opportunities. As these more important needs for which there are no other alternatives are not yet adequately met, don’t you think it’s more just for the government to scrap the idea of wasting billions on contraceptives, promote natural family planning instead, and channel the money to programs worthier of these funds?

      • senpairaiko says:

        The fact, dear sir, is that you can’t exactly expect kids to be morally “teachable” anymore at this day and age. Even if the schools try their best to be disgustingly moral and so pristinely hopeful in attempting to tell their students that premarital sex is bad, there is already too much Western influence in the media and other factors involved in society that the growing students can’t turn their heads from.

        Sooner or later, they’re gonna scrap those moralistic teachings from school that peer pressure would eventually make them consider “lame”, and watch these shows, ads, sitcoms and read this book and that which would involve teenagers having sex, giving references to early love, rebellious angst, and the like. The point IS, you can’t turn a deaf ear or blind eye to all this and expect we can still shield the children from things that make them want to have sex at an early age.

        Now, given that REALISTIC premise, we think that the appropriate preemptive measure the government could take is to provide these contraceptives so that even if these kids get past the already weak “moral barrier against premarital sex”, they still wouldn’t be doing themselves a life-changing (albeit negatively) deed of having children they can’t feed.

        Besides, these contraceptives won’t be imposed. It’s there to offer a CHOICE to people who should be informed and educated to begin with. It’s to make these people aware that hey, if natural family planning doesn’t work for ya, here’s another measure, so you can still live a happy life while pursuing your desires which you, by the way, have the RIGHT to pursue.

        Stop being narrow-minded and so “threatened” by the RH Bill because you’re, uh, “Catholic and therefore holy”. Please. I’m Catholic, too. But atleast I’ve got half a brain to use in situations and disputes like this.

  9. Lance says:

    Who’s missing the point? hmmm

  10. John M. Garingo says:

    Well in the end, It is our own personal belief that counts in heaven and not who we are here on earth… When we all finally meet our creator, God will asks us what good have you done for My brothers? So let’s all live our lives to the fullest and pray for those people who really need enlightenment from the Holy Spirit through the intercession of our Loving Mother Mary- Our Mother of Perpetual Help.

  11. Drei says:

    I really pity De Quiros. I THINK he is just using his talent, no matter what, for stardom… in short, KSP. Look, I think he knows what he really is writing… the consequences… and most importantly, what is really right or wrong…

  12. Mannix Fortz says:

    @ senpairaiko, it’s good that you are a catholic and got half the brain, but i think you should not only be contented on half truth. Upon believing and painting a negative premise and presuming that the youth today can longer reverse immorality, and surrendering that there is nothing else we can do, you concluded that the only option we have is to allow our politicians to decide for us and pass this foreign sponsored RH Bill that forces everyone and their taxes, yours and mine included to purchase those immoral condoms and pills to solve the problem. Is it not a presumption that people are just too weak to be in charge in their own welfare and we need the power of the government to impose the kind of education we deserve and decide the kind of essential medicines women should take whether these are abortifacients or carcinogenic? Are we not going back to Marcos dictatorship in the near future?

  13. BUFFLED says:

    I am still buffled why are you giving so much attention to Mary, when Jesus is the only mediator between men and The Father, nobody else? For everyone fell short of the glory of God”, No one else can please Him.For by single offering He has perfected for all time those who are being saved.

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