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Cardinal Sin and Prostitution

June 14, 1987

Cardinal Jaime Sin of the Philippines is a hypocrite!

Moreover, his denunciation of prostitution in the Philippines as a moral failure of the Aquino government is undermined by his reluctance to acknowledge the major cause of the world's oldest profession.

Blind to the rampant unemployment that daily squeezes hope from so many Filipinos, "his eminence" self-righteously admonishes prostitutes to "look for other employment, another way to work." Yet, he offers nothing concrete concerning the work these poor women might find.

And it is no wonder! Any far-reaching plan to relieve the plight of the unemployed and the poor would only be denounced as "communistic" by Cardinal Sin and his rich friends, both in his own country and in the United States.

Long before Corazon Aquino was elected president of the Philippines, but while Jaime Sin was the major representative of the Catholic Church there, Manila had a notorious reputation as a sexual playground for tired East Asian businessmen. Many a burnt-out executive secured "rest and rehabilitation" in Manila and often at the expense of some teen-aged hooker, a special feature of that "sin city."

Filipino brothels advertised the youth of their prostitutes. In fact, the blatant exposure of teen-age and, even, preadolescent prostitutes on the Manila sexual market is one of the reasons so many Catholic nuns actively opposed the Marcos government. Wasn't it the actions of these outraged nuns that aroused Cardinal Sin to make what protest he did against prostitution in the Philippines?

Now, this exalted prelate expects the Aquino government, handcuffed in every move it makes, to "limit free enterprise," to remedy a problem in 16 months that neither Marcos, the paragon of Filipino patriotism, nor Sin, the paragon of Filipino virtue, could solve in more than two decades!

If the cardinal would only throw his moral weight behind a genuine program of social and economic reforms, perhaps it would be more difficult for Filipino rightists to denounce it as "communistic." Maybe the poor would then have a chance to find "another way to work"; maybe the garbage dumps of Manila would be emptied of all those desperate human scavengers.

I don't know why Mark Fineman's story (June 6) made me so angry. Perhaps it was the accompanying photo, which makes the cardinal look so smug. Maybe, as an ex-Catholic, I still cannot understand how a clergyman can lecture prostitutes while he closes his eyes to the cause of prostitution.

ANTHONY GARAVENTE

Los Angeles

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