What really happened between FR. DARWIN GITGANO and BRO. ELISEO SORIANO? This post will answer that question in detail.
Father Darwin Anober Gitgano is a Catholic Apologist from Bohol, Philippines. In the world of debates, he is very famous for being the only Visayan priest with exceptional apologetics and debate skills. He has debated Brother Ramil Parba of Iglesia ni Cristo in 2017. He also preaches in public areas and in local Catholic Churches in an effort to make the faithful aware and proud of the Catholic faith they received from Jesus and the Apostles.
Brother Eliseo “Eli” Soriano is the founder of Members Church of God International (M.C.G.I.) which goes by a popular name “Ang Dating Daan” which means “The Old Path” in English. Eli Soriano claims to know the Bible and insists that he has an authentic interpretation and that only members of his church deserve heaven. He ignores Peter’s warning “that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation” (2 Peter 1:20). He has criticized the Catholic Church for decades resulting many not-well-informed Catholics to leave the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.
In April 17, 2020, Soriano was seen enraged on TV and which was a live broadcast. The MCGI founder felt he was attacked unfairly via social media by this humble Filipino priest who was only trying to clear the doubts of his flock against the attack and criticism of non-Catholic pastors including Soriano. He dared Gitgano to contact him via the comment section of their live streaming in Facebook any day from Monday to Thursday.
Since then, Filipino Catholics around the world, were intrigued and hoping for a friendly debate between these two pastors who claim to know the Sacred Scriptures by heart.
This is my own timeline version of the clash between Fr. Darwin Gitgano and Bro. Eliseo Soriano. Note that I am including the history of the Church to give a background for my non-Christian friends and to new generation who do not know the history.
AD 33 – Jesus founded a Church through Peter and his Apostles
Most Bible believers do not believe this fact simply because they do not have this rich history and Sacred Tradition (that can be traced back to the time of Jesus and the Apostles) that we Catholics are so blessed with. The truth is that Jesus left one singular Church (not many) through Peter. “And so I say to you, you are Peter (means stone or rock), and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18)
AD 40 – Apostles James (and Paul possibly) Christianized Spain
Paul mentioned in his letter to the Romans that he would be seeing them on his way to Spain (Romans 15:24, 28). Whether this was realized or not, it does not matter the important thing is that Spain is one of the target region of evangelization of the apostles. James, as per history and Sacred Tradition, through the help of the Blessed Virgin Mary as Our Lady of the Pillar, christianized Spain. In the year AD 40, He died as martyr and was buried in Santiago de Compostela Cathedral in Galicia, Spain. His tomb is still in the Catholic Cathedral at the present time.
AD 1521 – Spain Christianized the Philippines
Birth year of Christianity in the Philippines. First expedition from Spain, via Mexico, reached the shores of Samar Islands in the Philippines. “Philippines” was the name given to the newly discovered country in honor of King Philip the ruler of Spain that time. Christianization began since then. Catholic Churches and schools were build by Spanish missionaries. The Catholic Church flourished in the entire archipelago for centuries.
AD 1910’s – Felix Manalo leaves the Catholic Church and founded Iglesia ni Cristo, attacks the Catholic Church for a century
Felix Manalo, from a humble poor family, without a real understanding of the Catholic teachings, rejected Catholicism at a very young age. He questioned basic Catholic doctrines and went through his own journey of discovering what suits him best and became a part of the many Christian groups such as: the Methodist Church, Presbyterian Church, Christian Mission, and Seventh-day Adventist Church in 1911. SDA got rid of him in 1913 after a long quarrel over SDA doctrines. In 1914, he founded his own church called Iglesia ni Cristo.
AD 1980 – From Iglesia ni Cristo, Soriano founded M.C.G.I., attacks the Catholic Church for decades
Nicholas Perez, one of the Iglesia ni Cristo member, started his own church in the 1970’s. He named his newfound religion Iglesia ng Dios (Haligi’t Suhay) and made Eli Soriano his successor. Soriano separated from Perez’ group and founded his own church in 1980. It took 24 years before the approval of its now official name “Members Church of God International”. Same tactics as the Iglesia ni Cristo, they attack those not-so-learned believers to gain membership.
March 31, 2020 – Fr. Darwin’s Punto por Punto program started in Facebook, YouTube
Towards the end of March, Fr. Darwin and his wingman started “Punto por Punto“, an apologetics program attracting audience in YouTube and Facebook. It aims to debunk the lies of many Catholic attackers. For example, Fr. Darwin answered Soriano’s attack on TV about the praying of the Holy Rosary that it is vain repetition. (See my own post in defense against “vain repetition”.) As a proof that Soriano did attack Catholics, a capture of the video with him preaching this lie was shown in “Punto por Punto”. Then Fr. Darwin would explain as to why Soriano is wrong.
April 17, 2020 – Brother Eli Soriano seen enraged on TV against “Punto por Punto“, against the priest
The pastor, on TV in front of all his audience, went extremely angry with the the Catholic priest for doing such thing. He said it was unfair for “Punto por Punto” to cut a piece of his preaching and the priest would talk for minutes about what he said. He called Gitgano names like “liar”, “thick-faced”, “bisaya”, etc. He then dared the clergyman to get in touch with him via their live-streaming’s comments section. Seriously? How can he see Fr. Darwin’s comment among the thousands of comments from Soriano’s members. A live debate via Zoom or Skype would be better! In any case, this was the start of the future (hopefully) debate. Soriano said he would answer Punto por Punto‘s episodes to tell the world that the priest is wrong.
April 18, 2020 – Fr. Darwin heard Bro. Eli’s rage and accepted the challenge
Early in the morning, excited to share the news, the apologist informed his followers (that’s including me, laugh!) in Facebook about the pastor’s reaction. He thanked God that their efforts have resulted to an awareness of the Catholic faith to many people and it has reached even to one of the main persecutors of the Church. He then said in his post that Catholics are not angry with the pastor even though he keeps on attacking the Catholic Church. “God bless you (Soriano) and Mama Mary loves you”, the priest said.
Apr 20, 2020 – Fr. Darwin on Facebook Live for three hours waiting for Soriano to fulfill his words, but nothing
The Facebook Live coverage started at 07:03 PM and ended 10:14 PM. No sign of Soriano’s response about Punto por Punto or about the young priest. Fr. Darwin waited patiently for more than three hours in the hope he could have an open communication with Soriano. I can see his thirst of proving the world that Soriano’s preaching is wrong. He claimed to have sent around 10 messages in the comments section in Facebook but they were either deleted or responded by Soriano’s members only. His live coverage gained at least 43k views, 19k comments, 4k reactions, and almost 2k shares.
Apr 23, 2020 – MCGI folks informed Fr. Darwin a friendly talk with Soriano possible on Fridays only, MCGI agent will call the priest on 24th April evening
Thursday. Around 9pm, Fr. Darwin announced in his page that he was was invited for MCGI’s Q&A on Fridays. He said he is excited to talk to Soriano on Friday and he asked his Facebook followers to follow his live coverage on Friday April 24, 2020 07:30 PM with a hashtag #ProudCatholic #ProudTeamMaria. He said he called and spoke to an MCGI agent who promised a call on the next day.
April 24, 2020 – Fr. Darwin on Facebook Live exhausted all means to contact MCGI, lines busy or no agent available for 3 hours
Friday. Fr. Darwin Gitgano’s live post started around 07:40 PM. No calls received from MCGI. Fr. Darwin’s team called the Ang Dating Daan three hotline numbers multiple times but the lines are busy or no agents available. The priest made use of his time, with thousands of watchers, to expose some of the lies of Brother Soriano.
- 1. Soriano claimed Catholics consider Mary as “God of Mercy” or “Dios ng Awa” in a Catholic Marian prayer book of Mary (page 63). Turned out that the prayer book has 18 pages only. Also, “God of Mercy” it mentions is the “God who gave life to Mary’s parents” and not Mary herself.
- 2. Per Soriano, the statues and images in the Catholic Church started at the Council of Trent (held between 1545 and 1563). He referred to a book “Faith of our Fathers” page 164. Which clearly says that images or Christ and Mary should be retained. Retained means it has existed even before the said council. The same book (p162) states that the images started in the “early Christian Church” depicting images of Christ’s passion.
09:31 PM, A call from MCGI member Brother Ben Sanchez who referred the Catholic Team to try Skype instead of phone calls (an alibi?).
May 01, 2020 – Fr. Darwin received a call from MCGI. Bro. Eli Soriano will answer questions related to Punto por Punto episodes in few hours
07:00 PM. Fr. Darwin posted a special announcement. He said, “I hope this is true. Ang Dating Daan called us informing us that Bro. Eli Soriano will face us tonight in order to address simple questions about Punto por Punto episodes from 1-7. I am already excited. I hope they honor their words (laughs). The truth that we spread via social media has called their attention. I hope that if this will happen today, it would continue every Friday so we can follow their program to correct the errors of Bro. Eli.”
07:50 P.M. Facebook live started. Fr. Darwin and Bro John Doe played the call audio they received from Bro Mel (MCGI lector) earlier inviting them to join the Ang Dating Daan live via Zoom.
10:00 P.M. After more than two hours of waiting, MCGI never contacted Father Darwin. The priest and his team used the time to answer some of their viewers questions instead.
Rest in peace, Brother Eli! Condolences to the MCGI family! We, Catholics, never condemn anyone to hell. Only God sees what’s in the heart and mind of the person during the last moments of his/her earthly journey. A person can sincerely and truly repent in his/her wrongdoings at any point of his/her life. And if …
Let us serve Christ and the Church in all circumstances!