Defense of the Stand of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines on the House Bill 4244 (Reproductive Health Bill)

Bishop of Antipolo defends the CBCP.

 

One of the main reasons, if not the main reason, why the Catholic Church is against the House Bill 4244 (Reproductive Health Bill or Responsible Parenthood Bill) is that the bill directs the government to promote contraception and to give free contraceptives to people. According to Father Bernas, SJ (Sounding Board, Philippine Daily Inquirer, May 23, 2011), this opposition of the Church is against religious freedom. He says that, because of religious freedom, “the state should not prevent people from practicing responsible parenthood according to their beliefs nor may churchmen compel President Aquino, by whatever means, to prevent people from acting according to their religious belief.”

First of all, by opposing the RH Bill, the Catholic Church is not moving for the ban of contraceptives (the non-abortifacient ones), although she would be happy if these contraceptives were banned. At present, in the Philippines, anyone can buy contraceptives from drugstores and even from some “convenience stores”. What the Church is against, I repeat, is that government should promote contraception and provide free contraceptives to people. Therefore it is wrong to say that the Church wants the government to “prevent people from practicing responsible parenthood according to their religious belief” and that the Catholic churchmen are compelling “President Aquino, by whatever means, to prevent people from acting according to their religious beliefs.” What the church does is to try to convince President Aquino and our senators and congressmen not to enact a law that directs the government to promote contraception and provide free contraceptives to people.

It is also good to point out that the church teaching regarding contraceptives is not based on Faith or revelation, although it is confirmed by our Faith. This church teaching is based on natural law, which we know through natural reason. By studying through correct reasoning the nature of the human person, we arrive at this teaching regarding contraception. All human beings, Catholic or not, are obliged to act according to right reason. By the efforts of the Church to go against the RH Bill, the Church is not imposing her religious beliefs on others. She is trying to stop a bill which is against natural law, a law which all human beings, Catholic or not, should follow. The RH Bill, judged from the principles of natural law, is against the good of the human person and the common good. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in its “Doctrinal Note regarding the Participation of Catholics in Political Life” tells us that all citizens, including Catholics, have the right “to base their contribution to society and political life – through the legitimate means available to everyone in a democracy – on their particular understanding of the human person and the common good.” In a democracy, any group of citizens has the right to campaign and lobby so that what they consider to be good for the country are enacted into law and what they deem to be harmful for the country are not enacted into law.

Father Bernas says further in his column that we live in a pluralist society. This is true and, therefore, we should respect the beliefs and opinions of others. But there is a limit to this pluralism. We cannot accept an “ethical pluralism “which ignores the principles of natural ethics and yield to ephemeral cultural and moral trends, as if every outlook on life were of equal value.” (Doctrinal Note on the Participation of Catholics in Political Life)

Father Bernas also quotes the “Compendum on the Social Teaching of the Catholic Church: “Because of its historical and cultural ties to a nation, a religious community might be given special recognition on the part of the State. Such recognition must in no way create discrimination within the civil or social order for other religious groups” and “Those responsible for government are required to interpret the common good of their country not only according to the guidelines of the majority but also according to the effective good of all the members of the community, including the minority.” The Church, by opposing the HB 4244, is “interpreting the common good of the country not only according to the guidelines of the majority but also according to the effective good of all the members of the community, including the minority.” In opposing the bill the Church is interpreting the common good according to the guidelines of natural law, which is valid for all, the minority as well as the majority. Benedict XVI says that natural law must be the foundation of democracy, so that those in power are not given the chance to determine what is good or evil [Zenit.org. Vatican City, Oct. 5, 2007].

Regarding freedom, Benedict XVI said in his Address to the International Congress on Natural Law: “…yet taking into account that human freedom is always a freedom shared with others, it is clear that the harmony of freedom can be found only in what is common to all: the truth of the human being, the fundamental message of being itself, exactly the “lex naturalis.”

 

GABRIEL V. REYES, D.D.
Bishop of Antipolo

 

  • HERP DERP

    TL;DR

  • carl marx

    Hindi naman isasaksak sa bunganga niyo mga contraceptives eh, ano bang problema ninyo? Bat ba, ayaw na ayaw niyo magka “option” ang tao to have access to the same education and means ng may kaya para planuhin pamiliya nila? You keep saying that you are not forcing your beliefs down people’s throats, pero here you are… defining “natural law” based on YOUR beliefs, expecting the MAJORITY who are in FOR THIS BILL to bow down to your dogmas. Pabigat lang kayo eh, eto kayo nagrereklamo, nagbabayad rin ba kayo ng tamang bwis? Anak ng tinapa, wala rin naman kayong suggestion na alternatibo para makaahon sa kahirapan, hanggang prayer rally lang naman alam niyo eh.

  • ncells

    Bishop Gabriel. your thesis rests upon a concept that you did not define, “Natural Law”. We have to come up with an agreement as to what this concept refers to. Can you please clue me on what this ‘natural law’ thing is all about?

  • ashleybulls

    If the Philippine Catholic church is trying to stop this bill then it’s trying to stop a constitutional process. This bill must undergo a constitutionally mandated deliberation, discussions and amendment process in Philippine Congress. Voting should follow. Why are you or are you stopping this constitutional process???

  • Enrico D. Bella

    nn”One of the main reasons, if not the main reason, why the Catholic Church is against the House Bill 4244 (Reproductive Health Bill or Responsible Parenthood Bill) is that the bill directs the government to promote contraception and to give free contraceptives to people. “The bill does not direct the government to PROMOTE contraception. The bill enjoins the government to promote responsible parenthood whether through natural or artifical means, leaving it to a couple’s intelligent choice to adopt the best and most acceptable option that suits their particular state of life. To further assert that the the bill promotes the distribution of free contraceptives to people is a half-truth and is utterly misleading. The bill emphasizes the responsibility of the state to EDUCATE and ASSIST its citizens in understanding the use of the wide range of available family planning methods so that married couples may be able to intelligently decide, based on their informed judgment and good conscience, what will be best suited for them. This is especially crucial when the State, in fulfilment of its duty, needs to provide support and assistance to the poor and marginalized who have, in good conscience, opted for artificial methods of birth control but suffer from the lack of means for its proper and effective use.”…by opposing the RH Bill, the Catholic Church is not moving for the ban of contraceptives (the non-abortifacient ones), although she would be happy if these contraceptives were banned.”The problem with that statement is that the Catholic Church views most, if not ALL, forms of contraceptives as abortifacients — even condoms and IUD devices which clearly prevent conception are considered abortifacients. One high ranking bishop even declared, quite shamelessly, that the use of such devices in fact constitute acts of ATTEMPTED MURDER.”Therefore it is wrong to say that the Church wants the government to u201cprevent people from practicing responsible parenthood according to their religious beliefu201d and that the Catholic churchmen are compelling u201cPresident Aquino, by whatever means, to prevent people from acting according to their religious beliefs.u201d What the church does is to try to convince President Aquino and our senators and congressmen not to enact a law that directs the government to promote contraception and provide free contraceptives to people.” If this is an honest assertion, then why are recent efforts of the Catholic Church focused on sowing fear and intimidation among the ranks of the faithful who are threatened from the pulpits, on dissenting academics who are slapped with the ancient spectre of heresy and possible removal from their teaching duties, against priests and religious who express independent opinions and refuse to tow the unrelentingly orthodox ecclesiastical line, on free thinkers, independent minded Catholics, journalists and writers, students, etc.? Shouldn’t the Church heirarchy take the road of courageous dialogue and debate with the President and our legislators instead? Why threaten the President at one point with excommunication and our legislators with electoral boycott for following the dictates of conscience? Why all the blackmail, intimidation and scare tactics unrelentingly unleashed on Juan and Juana Catolica? “It is also good to point out that the Church teaching regarding contraceptives is not based on Faith or revelation, although it is confirmed by our Faith. This church teaching is based on natural law, which we know through natural reason. By studying through correct reasoning the nature of the human person, we arrive at this teaching regarding contraception. All human beings, Catholic or not, are obliged to act according to right reason. By the efforts of the Church to go against the RH Bill, the Church is not imposing her religious beliefs on others. She is trying to stop a bill which is against natural law, a law which all human beings, Catholic or not, should follow.” I am comforted by this honest admission that the Church teaching on contraceptives isNOT based on Faith nor Revelation. I am prepared to admit that the teaching is based onnatural law, “which we know through natural reason”. But that, by your own admission, your Grace, you arrived at this teaching regarding contraception through the hierarchy’s exclusive efforts (“By studying through correct reasoning the nature of the human person, WE arrive at this teaching.”). It therefore appears to me that you have taken it as your exclusive right to define natural law as it applies to contraception, arriving at your own conclusions through the use of natural reason as it makes sense to you, as if such reason is UNNATURAL to us, and in the end formulating the church teaching by which we are now adjured to submit in silent obedience, because “all human beings…are obliged to act according to right reason” — reason exclusively studied, defined and imposed by you. And finally, as an ultimate act of hypocritical humility, you exclaim that “By the efforts of the Church to go against the RH Bill, the Church is not imposing her religious beliefs on others”? Really? I am sorry your Grace…but with deep respect and in all charity, I vehemently disagree with you. I am a Catholic and a Catholic I shall remain inspite of your defense. Deus Caritas Est ~ Matthew 11:25 ~

  • Enrico D. Bella

    nn”One of the main reasons, if not the main reason, why the Catholic Church is against the House Bill 4244 (Reproductive Health Bill or Responsible Parenthood Bill) is that the bill directs the government to promote contraception and to give free contraceptives to people.nnn> The bill does not direct the government to PROMOTE contraception. The bill enjoins the government to promote responsible parenthood whether through natural or artifical means, leaving it to a couple’s intelligent choice to adopt the best and most acceptable option that suits their particular state of life. To further assert that the the bill promotes the distribution of free contraceptives to people is a half-truth and is utterly misleading. The bill emphasizes the responsibility of the state to EDUCATE and ASSIST its citizens in understanding the use of the wide range of available family planning methods so that married couples may be able to intelligently decide, based on their informed judgment and good conscience, what will be best suited for them. This is especially crucial when the State, in fulfilment of its duty, needs to provide support and assistance to the poor and marginalized who have, in good conscience, opted for artificial methods of birth control but suffer from the lack of means for its proper and effective use.nnn”…by opposing the RH Bill, the Catholic Church is not moving for the ban of contraceptives (the non-abortifacient ones), although she would be happy if these contraceptives were banned.nnn> The problem with that statement is that the Catholic Church views most, if not ALL, forms of contraceptives as abortifacients — even condoms and IUD devices which clearly prevent conception are considered abortifacients. One high ranking bishop even declared, quite shamelessly, that the use of such devices in fact constitute acts of ATTEMPTED MURDER.nnn”Therefore it is wrong to say that the Church wants the government to u201cprevent people from practicing responsible parenthood according to their religious beliefu201d and that the Catholic churchmen are compelling u201cPresident Aquino, by whatever means, to prevent people from acting according to their religious beliefs.u201d What the church does is to try to convince President Aquino and our senators and congressmen not to enact a law that directs the government to promote contraception and provide free contraceptives to people.nnn> If this is an honest assertion, then why are recent efforts of the Catholic Church focused on sowing fear and intimidation among the ranks of the faithful who are threatened from the pulpits, on dissenting academics who are slapped with the ancient spectre of heresy and possible removal from their teaching duties, against priests and religious who express independent opinions and refuse to tow the unrelentingly orthodox ecclesiastical line, on free thinkers, independent minded Catholics, journalists and writers, students, etc.? Shouldn’t the Church heirarchy take the road of courageous dialogue and debate with the President and our legislators instead? Why threaten the President at one point with excommunication and our legislators with electoral boycott for following the dictates of conscience? Why all the blackmail, intimidation and scare tactics unrelentingly unleashed on Juan and Juana Catolica? nnn”It is also good to point out that the Church teaching regarding contraceptives is not based on Faith or revelation, although it is confirmed by our Faith. This church teaching is based on natural law, which we know through natural reason. By studying through correct reasoning the nature of the human person, we arrive at this teaching regarding contraception. All human beings, Catholic or not, are obliged to act according to right reason. By the efforts of the Church to go against the RH Bill, the Church is not imposing her religious beliefs on others. She is trying to stop a bill which is against natural law, a law which all human beings, Catholic or not, should follow.nnn> I am comforted by this honest admission that the Church teaching on contraceptives is NOT based on Faith nor Revelation. I am prepared to admit that the teaching is based onnatural law, “which we know through natural reason”. But that, by your own admission, your Grace, you arrived at this teaching regarding contraception through the hierarchy’s exclusive efforts (“By studying through correct reasoning the nature of the human person, WE arrive at this teaching.”). It therefore appears to me that you have taken it as your exclusive right to define natural law as it applies to contraception, arriving at your own conclusions through the use of natural reason as it makes sense to you, as if such reason is UNNATURAL to us, and in the end formulating the church teaching by which we are now adjured to submit in silent obedience, because “all human beings…are obliged to act according to right reason” — reason exclusively studied, defined and imposed by you. And finally, as an ultimate act of hypocritical humility, you exclaim that “By the efforts of the Church to go against the RH Bill, the Church is not imposing her religious beliefs on others”? Really? nnnI am sorry your Grace…but with deep respect and in all charity, I vehemently disagree with you. I am a Catholic and a Catholic I shall remain inspite of your defense. Deus Caritas Est nnn~ Matthew 11:25 ~

  • State-paid Philosopher

    If you truly understand the essence of policy-making and how the natural law is the ultimate basis of it, then you would understand how this stand is so hypocritical. Yes, your fervor to express your opinion on this matter is to a certain enxtent respectable, even admirable, but first and foremost, any opinion in the political arena needs to come from proper consultation, analysis and reflection. I think the sheer lack of reference to the other issues at hand: reproductive rights, maternal health, responsible parenting and the like and discarding the RH Bill totally without respect to the provisions that unquestionably promote social well-being because of disagreement to the distribution of contraceptives is unethical. nnYou (the Church) are not the only authority on the natural law. You are enjoined to participate in the public arena to contribute to the understanding of the natural law, but it does not grant you the privilege to speak as if standing on an elevated platform, on a podium, also holding the only microphone in the place while everyone else listens to their monologue. Unlike that top-down dynamic, politics actually requires us to listen, engage and compromise– the playing field should be leveled, bottoms-up. nnAll I’ve heard from the Church is sour whining such as this.

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