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 known Catholic apologist from Bohol, Philippines. A debate against Ramil Parba of Iglesia ni Cristo made him even famous for both the attackers and the defenders of the Catholic Church in the Philippines. In addition to apologetics, he is an active exorcist and promoter of the Extraordinary Form of the Holy Mass.
Brother Eliseo Soriano is the founder of Members Church of God International (M.C.G.I.), which goes by the popular name of “Ang Dating Daan”. Soriano claimed to know the Bible well, insisted that he has the authentic interpretation and that only members of his church deserve heaven. He ignores Peter’s warning that “no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of ones own interpretation” (2 Peter 1:20). Like many self-proclaimed apostles, he has criticized the Catholic Church for decades, resulting in many uninformed Catholics to join him.
On April 17, 2020, Soriano was seen enraged during a live broadcast of his show. The MCGI founder felt that he was unjustly criticized via social media by a Filipino priest who was only trying to unlock some doubts about the attacks by non-Catholic pastors, including Soriano. He challenged the priest to contact him during their live sessions to prove to the world the priest was wrong. Since then, Filipino Catholics around the world have been intrigued and awaited a friendly debate between these two pastors.
Sharing here the notes I took down in case you were wondering what happened between the two pastors:
- March 31, 2020 – Fr. Darwin and his team started “Punto por Punto,” an apologetics program that attracts a good number of audience on YouTube and Facebook. Its aim is to discredit the lies of many anti-Catholics. For example, Father Darwin responded to Soriano’s attack on the Holy Rosary. Like many other sects, Soriano said that the Rosary is something of the devil because the Bible prohibits vain repetition. The Catholic priest responded to this statement in defense.
- April 17, 2020 – Brother Eli Soriano, live on television and on broadcast sites, became very angry with the Catholic priest for doing such a thing. He said it was unfair for him to show just a splice of his video preaching instead of the entire video. He called Gitgano a “liar” and a “thick-faced” priest. He then challenged Gitgano to engage with him through the comment section of his livestream in Facebook at any of his future live programs.
- April 18, 2020 – Fr. Darwin heard the news and accepted the challenge. He thanked God that his team’s efforts have resulted in an awareness of the Catholic faith for many people and have even reached one of the main persecutors of the Church. He later said in his post that Catholics are not angry with the pastor even though he continues to attack the Catholic Church. “God bless you (Soriano) and Mama María loves you,” the priest posted.
- April 20, 2020 – Fr Darwin waited patiently for more than three hours in the hope that the pastor would honor his words. He posted many messages in the Facebook comment section but they were either deleted or only answered by Soriano fanatics.
- April 23, 2020 – The priest announced on his Facebook page that he was invited by an MCGI member to call and participate in their Q&A session on Friday, April 24, 2020. Gitgano said he called and spoke with an MCGI member who promised a phone call the next day.
- April 24, 2020 – Father Darwin and his team called MCGI’s Ang Dating Daan three hotline numbers multiple times, but they were either busy or no agents available. The priest took advantage of his time, with thousands of followers, to expose some of the other lies of Brother Eliseo Soriano. For example, Soriano claims that it is wrong for Catholics to treat Mary as “God of mercy” or “Diyos ng Awa” in a Marian Catholic prayer book for Mary (page 63). It turned out that the prayer book is only 18 pages long. Also, the words “God of mercy” in the prayer book refers to the God who gave life to Mary’s parents and not Mary herself.
- Morning of May 1, 2020 – Fr Darwin posted a special announcement: (translated) “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 he will honor his words. 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.”
- Evening of May 1, 2020 – Fr. Darwin and his team played the audio of a call they received from a Brother Mel (MCGI) inviting them to join Ang Dating Daan live via Zoom. After more than two hours of waiting, MCGI never contacted the priest for the Zoom meeting info. It is obviously undeniable that Soriano hesitated to have a discussion with a learned priest because he knew he would be refuted so easily as was done by the priest to the INC national debater Ramil Parba.
There has been no further news about their most anticipated debate until Soriano’s death on February 10, 2021. Soriano died in Brazil where he lived for many years after the death threats he received from rival sects in the Philippines and to avoid numerous libel cases that were filed against him. May he rest in peace and May God have mercy on his soul!